Lots of developers use headphones and music at work, though I think corporate life in cubes encourages this, just to block out the distractions. When the walls of your office stop at the 5 foot level, you might need all the privacy you can get from a large set of speakers attached to your head.
I heard a few programmers debating this recently. One of them mentioned that he often uses music, a soothing melody that helps to block out distractions. Another said that white noise is a help. A few others actually mentioned that a private office and silence was more important for them. I know that in the past I've often tried to pick more mellow tunes, often jazz or classical music without a vocal component, when I needed to concentrate.
Another person mentioned that there has been work that shows music is distracting to people, and it can perhaps occupy a portion of your brain and make you less efficient. You might notice less patterns, or consider things differently with music playing. I found that plausible, and decided to ask the question this Friday.
Would you prefer silence, music, or some other background noise when you are working?
I often go to a Starbucks or a bookstore and write on my laptop, just to have the white noise of people in the background. I think I get some level of energy from having other people around, but not interacting with me. I might listen to some music, but often I just sit there and focus on my work.
When I used to work in a corporate environment, I found that I used music, but it was really to block out the distractions of other people nearby. Being in my own world often helped me get into the zone, and having large blocks of time were essential.
So let us know what works for you, why, and if you've tried anything else. If you have good arguments to present to management for achieving your ideal work environment, let us know as well.
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