In 7th grade, I had a math teacher who told the class homework should be done in complete silence. That meant no TVs on in the background, no headphones in our ears, and no friends to talk to nearby.
So I took his advice, and began to sit down at my desk trying to work as if I was in a monastery. This was the beginning of a struggle and dislike of math that lasted for the next three years, and only ended when I began to relax my extremely harsh “no distractions” rule.
From this, I have learned that if I remove all elements of joy from the context in which I do my schoolwork, it ceases to be enjoyable itself. When I finally decided to plug headphones in again, math was transformed from drudgery to something extremely natural and beautiful—just like the music that accompanied it.
In fact, this is a significant part of why I decided to major in computer science. I found that programming is paired excellently with music, and could picture myself in college happily passing the hours with Pandora minimized below a project I chipped away at in NetBeans.
Now, everyone learns differently, and I certainly do not want to detract from those who do need silence to work. The takeaway for everyone reading this article, however, is there is more to work than the work itself. The context you place a project in can completely transform your experience with it, and to better enjoy your work you can consider how to optimize the environment you do it in. For me, this means that a new playlist can often do as much good as the perfect answer on Stack Overflow.