Using Music to focus

I have recently been mulling over Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans book. It’s a collection of notes he’s summarized after interviewing many world class athletes, billionaires, and celebrities. The main goal of the book is to find the consistent things these people do on a daily basis that we can emulate to reach similar levels.

But this article isn’t about his whole book, but a simple idea found there. One of the things Tim points out is that many of these top performers have a way to get focused.

Listen to the same song on repeat.

At first this sounds trivial. Listen to the same song over and over again? How could this help me with game design, or life in general?

I thought about this a bit more and realize I’d already done this a little during my college years. I stumbled upon this study music track. For some reason this track really helps me focus more than any other track I’ve found.

Now to apply this to my current project. Sure I could pop that study music back on, but I use it for everything. What if we take this little experiment a step further?

Here’s my brilliant hypothesis: Listen to specific music on repeat to get focused.

I figure that using a specific track for an activity will help associate that activity with the music. Your workout probably had different music than when your trying to relax.

If you’re familiar with my blog you’ll know that I’m a fan of the Fallout series of games. My current project is creating a Fallout conversion for the ICRPG system.

When working on my Fallout project I opened up YouTube and threw on the radio soundtrack. Having those old tunes playing in the background really got me right into the Fallout mood. This helped get me started a lot quicker than just starting from scratch.

This really makes perfect sense when you think about it. The only time I ever listen to this old music is in game. Fallout is the only thing I associate with these songs. Even if I hear one of these songs outside of the game my mind instantly jumps to Fallout.

The next time you’re looking to really focus on something find a track that really resonates with what you’re trying to do.

Working on a fantasy game? How about a little Skyrim soundtrack? Working on a action packed game? Maybe some Street Fighter. Video game music is especially effective because it’s main purpose in a game is to evoke a specific feeling.

Even a specific genre or time period can really set the tone for the game as we see with the Fallout music. It doesn’t have to be all environmental music to really hit home.


  • I usually find it easier to work to music tracks that don’t have words or I’ll get caught up singing the song’s
  • If you listen on YouTube on a computer you can right click the video and select ‘Loop’ which will repeat the video when it finishes

Thanks for reading,