Solace In My Headphones


Today was brutal—not in a negative way, just extremely heavy deliverable-wise on the deadlines front.  My project managers like to use the word challenging when describing the labyrinth of obstacles our digital team routinely face when orchestrating client work. Multiple projects converging at various stages of planning, production, and client review.

I have 3 personal prerequisites for contending with these types of days: a great night sleep, a superbly-crafted morning espresso or caffè latte, and a fantastic pair of audiophile grade headphones to get me through the day’s challenges.
In truth, of these 3—push come to shove, I could probably get away with a few bad nights sleep; and I could likely get through the day without caffeine (I’ve hit the caffeine reset button a few times with success in the past). But take away my headphones—take away my music—and I’m not a happy creative camper.

Why am I blogging about this? Because this week I’ve unfortunately been without my beloved Sennheizers due to a loose wire requiring repair. My current headphones are just over 5-years old (older than my son!) and may need to be overhauled in favour of a new pair. While it may sound weird to be blogging about headphones, many creative people I meet have a special connection with their headphones and with their music. I think there’s a strong bond between music and creativity.
Personally speaking, I feel more loose, relaxed and creative when I’m listening to music. I feel ideas and solutions seem to flow into my mind more naturally when I’m immersed in good rhythms and beats.

Mornings are typically ritualistic: email, Twitter, reading Popurls or Design You Trust (recently). I begin with a quick evaluation of priorities for the day and usually a re-shuffling of existing tasks on my plate. At the same time, I usually take a few moments to plan out what I’m going to listen to while working. I’ll choose music to suit my mood or the nature of the client piece I’m working through. Music is the glue that connects all the micro tasks throughout the day.

While planning out each day is a great way keep focused and productive,  the sobering reality is that trying to plan further into the future (2 to 3-weeks) is more like guessing —guessing because digital marketing, like other forms of marketing, is driven by emotion, money, and constant change. In the case of digital, changing platforms and technologies. With so many variables with the capacity to render a project dead in the water or full-steam ahead trying to predict the future seems rather daunting.

Sometimes I imagine how great it would be if I had a crystal ball connected to my headphones allowing me to momentarily see and hear my future. What will I be doing 2, 6, or 24-months down the road?
Changing deadlines, changing budgets, changing methods, changing technologies, changing colleagues. Life is full of changing forces. Each week without fail it seems there is one über-critical, hyper-sensitive changing event or task that flies in out of the blue causing a disruptive snowballing chain of events—a sort of chemical catalyst upon my schedule and my musical and creative mood.

Its 10:30-ish a.m. one of my colleagues walks by, says hello, smiles and says to me “the world is my oyster”. I laugh and think to myself, what an illuminating concept. That’s my creative catalyst for today. Now I’m ready to create something delightful.

3 thoughts on “Solace In My Headphones

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  2. Thanks for the comment Donna. I’m most likely looking at a new pair of Sennheisers —they’re well-made and can take daily abuse. I’m considering the HD 515 or the HD 555.
    If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, I would recommend the Sennheiser eH 250 model —great value and sound for the price. My eH 250 pair (broken cable issue, my fault) have been great, handling nearly 5-years of daily use.
    If you’re looking for more audiophile grade headphones and willing to spend a bit more, check out the Sennheiser HD 600 and 650 or the Grado line.

  3. I agree that there is a special connection with headphones, and the private music they provide you. Listening to music while working helps keep inspiration flowing and keeps at bay the nagging dread of deadlines. Depending on what you listen to, it can calm you down when things are hectic, or it can rock you on.

    My headset broke a few weeks ago and I’m still on the search for a great new set of headphones. Ones that won’t squish my head/hears but big enough to surround me with big sound.

    What are some of the headphones are you are looking at?

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