I Tried For A Week: Not Listening To Music


I have music on in the background at almost any given time in the day. I have my earphones in when making a short journey to Tesco and back, the aux on full volume in the car, music on the speakers in the gym and in the shower; I also like to use them when doing work. I find it actually helps me to focus on the task at hand, despite there being several studies outrightly proving that music reduces concentration when doing several types of tasks. Also, I can’t imagine that I look very approachable with my earphones in all the time, so I thought it might help me look slightly less anti-social… here’s how I fared when giving up listening to music for a week.  


I usually listen to music whilst getting ready in the morning, but of course I couldn’t, so I didn’t get my usual Monday morning motivation power ballad session, which was a bummer. I was running slightly late for uni, so I actually saved the time which would’ve otherwise been spent unravelling earphones and picking a song, so that worked out quite well. Bearable no music morning.

Fast forward to 1pm, morning lectures are over, so I tried settling down in media resources to do some work, BUT KEPT GETTING DISTRACTED BY THE EDGE COMMITTEE. So what would’ve otherwise been a productive session, ended up with me having a jolly old catch up with everyone popping in and out because I wasn’t tunnel-visioned into my work, mediated by a good study playlist.

I had badminton in the evening, and then we headed to Stags. 8pm, pitch black, I walked home alone with no earphones in which almost broke me. It was a very, very testing first day.


I walked the 40-ish minutes to and back from work without music again which actually wasn’t too bad… then after work, I got dumped, which was really fun, and I wanted to listen to sad music but in the name of the challenge, I couldn’t. I then went to the gym to blow off some steam and had to endure someone else’s idea of a good workout playlist which unfortunately sucked! Everything is FINE.

Ross Gellert from Friends via YouTube


By this point, my earphones were lost in the abyss of my bag and I missed them so much. I settled down to do some uni work and resorted to listening to some random sports commentators on French radio, in lieu of music, to update my French skills. Luckily I decided NOT to take earplugs to Jesters like a loser taking her challenge too seriously, and had a cathartic singalong.


Death via Absolute 80s on the radio at work all morning, but then someone changed it to Absolute and Zara Larsson came on so that made my morning. Does Thursday Night Karaoke count as self-imposed music? Nah. Still smashing it. Not long to go.


So on Friday I crumbled. I had a literal karaoke hangover and I was craving a good getting ready song. So, to break the ban, I chucked on The Hunna and I almost felt whole again. But I am disappointed in myself for not managing the whole week… I clearly use music as a focusing tool, and the lack of uni work I had done this week just shows how dependent I am on it, so I thought I really needed to quit the act and plug myself in for the sake of my degree as I had a huge weekend of work to do!


Once you get into the habit of it, not having music going in the background for activities like showering/getting dressed/walking isn’t the worst thing in the world, because it forces you to simply get on with it. Whereas for tasks like gym workouts and uni work, it really helps to have something motivating in my ears. I genuinely struggled to do uni work which is why I crumbled prematurely. As a result, I would not recommend quitting all together, but I have certainly learned to appreciate what is going on around me a bit more and being more alert without music, so maybe minimising how much I listen to music is a positive move. It also opens avenues for doing something more educational than listening to music e.g. podcasts, or radio in a language that you’re learning. But I would really not recommend going cold turkey as this sad tale illustrates… And maybe save the challenge for a week when you don’t have too much emotional trauma thrown your way too!


Sub-editor 2017/18. Third year Biology with Linguistics student. Interested particularly in global health, genetics and nutrition. Very disposed towards writing about things that haven't quite been explained yet.

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