I have long since been a proponent of watching movies while working. Like... since high school. Now, not everyone understands or agrees with this approach. In fact, many will criticize it, as my bosses have throughout the years. I strongly believe that we're of a different generation, where our ADD needs to be occupied and fueled for productive output.
I don't always watch movies while working - writing emails while a movie is playing is hard for me, not because of the movie, but because of the audio. I can't listen to music and craft an email at the same time either. If you're the type who has considered watching movies while working, I have some tips:
- Choose a movie you've seen several times. If you can quote this movie extensively or practically play it in your head, that's the kind of movie you should choose. Otherwise, you'll be paying direct attention to it and the idea is to have it as a background feature.
- Choose a movie that's not too heavy on action. For instance, if I try to have Mission Impossible 3 playing in the background, it quickly becomes apparent that it wasn't the right choice. That movie (while awesome) offers hardly any times between totally amazing action scenes.
- Be prepared to put it on mute or pause it... a lot. Any time I have to get on a conference call, write an email or read something to fully comprehend it, I have to mute the audio at the very least. In fact, I paused the video I've been watching 4 times since starting this article. I can be in a coffee shop, library, airport, etc. and not be bothered by the background noise, probably because most of it I can't make out. When the audio is blasting into my ears, I have to shut it down to focus. Your mileage may vary. Given this, don't be surprised if it takes an entire day to play a 2 hour movie (I started this hour and 20 minute movie at 3pm and it's now 7pm and I still have 10 minutes left of it).
- Know when to cut your losses. As I explained with the MI:3 example above, not all movies work well for this kind of activity. Furthermore, some days just prove to not be the kind of day where having a movie playing is the right choice. Know when to realize that you're not getting anything done and just turn the thing off.
I realize this kind of activity just fuels the prediction of Idiocracy (a great choice for playing in the background if you've already seen it once or twice). People could blame this on ADD, but I think we've just grown up in an environment where we're constantly inundated with media. For us to conform to an environment that strips that all away makes things incredibly difficult.
Not all jobs are conducive to this. If you're a coder, like me, then you're off to a good start. If you swing a hammer for a living, I would stick to listening to the radio blasting from that fancy DeWalt boombox that also charges batteries.