Cover image for TV while coding? Distraction or Motivation?

TV while coding? Distraction or Motivation?

andrewbrown profile image Andrew Brown πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ ・1 min read

When I'm coding I like complete silence but not all work is the same.
When I'm doing something I've done a hundred times I can safely have Star Trek playing in the background.

Also, not all show the same, I can safely put Star Trek in the background because I've watched it hundreds of times.

A distraction-free is harder to come by these days. I have to tolerate elmo sing-a-long in the background.

Vote and Comment

Tell me your preference with your reaction:

πŸ’– TV motivates me while coding

πŸ¦„ TV distracts me while coding


Editor guide

Distraction. I like to have something on while I work, but I go for instrumental music of some sort (video games music, Vitamin String Quartet, those lofi hip hop beat channels on youtube, etc...) . I can't even have music with lyrics because it takes my attention away from my work.


If I had video game music playing would likely be NES music. eg. BlasterMaster, Ninja Gaiden, TMNT2, River City Ransom


Nice! My go-tos are usually things like Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, Animal Crossing (that music is so relaxing, particularly when people put rain sounds behind it on youtube), and, like, random tracks from various other games.


You are right, music with lyrics will distract you because your brain will try to understand the lyrics as well. Listening to music with foreign language lyric that you don't understand will also distract you although not as much as lyric with language you understand. The best music to hear in my opinion is game's bgm, why? Because game's bgm composed without expectation of what the player will do, so I can just listen and code without expecting the music's climax or something.


I hadn't thought of that aspect of game music where there often isn't a climax. That's useful. I find that if I'm listening to electronic music, a steady beat is important. It's fine if the DJ mixes in tracks as long as the underlying tempo remains steady.


I'm the same. TV is a distraction. I'll typically play one of those meditation/relaxation/lofi channels on YouTube. You mentioned a Vitamin String Quartet (haven't heard of that), but my favorite is cello music. I really get into a zone when I listen to cello. I usually listen to David Darling on Google Play Music.

I also have to use headphones. That helps with immersing myself in the music and blocking as much outside sound as possible. I typically use earbuds that seal really well, since the fancier over-the-ear headphones make my head hot and hurt after a while from pushing on my glasses around my ears.


Share some Youtube channels for example if you can. Would love a listen.

Honestly, I typically just do a search for "binaural", "meditation", "deep house" or "lofi" and go from there.

For studying or intense concentration, search for "binaural", "meditation" or "lofi". Personally, I find "binaural" to be the most effective. I don't subscribe to all the new age hoodoo that typically surrounds that, but I have to admit that binaural/alpha wave stuff works for me. I also like some lofi hip hop/coffee shop music.

For focus on programming, I tend to move more toward Deep House music since I want my brain to get into a cycle. This will sound odd and I'm not sure of a better way to explain it, but it puts my brain into a positive feedback loop. Since I'm high-functioning autistic (Aspergers), getting my thought patterns stuck in a loop is actually a problem. It prevents me from progressing in a task. Somehow (again, I refer back to the "new age hoodoo" comment) Deep House helps me control that in positive ways. But the key is a steady, heavy beat. The catch here is that a lot of house music has vocals because they're remixes of pop songs. So it can't be full-on lyrics. But if it's a repetitive voice sample, that's fine. Also, I minimize the window (or switch to a different tab) because a lot of house music on YouTube has visuals.


For some reason, the kids' show Arthur at a very low volume gets me into super-focused ultra-productive tryhard mode.

I think it makes for good white noise, with the downside that I now associate the theme song with crunch time or trying to deliver a feature with a looming insane deadline πŸ˜…


I recently discovered that the show is still going on which to me is insane.
Almost how insane I used to go as my twin sister would not stop watching that show.


I usually just use music, as I can zone that out super easily but it's not complete silence.

Though I can definitely code with something like a hockey or basketball game in the background (or, like today, with a Raptors Parade in the background [#WeTheNorth]). Full out shows - not so much.


That parade had the GoTrain parking so full that people were risking parking in all available spots of the nearby business's parking lots to they could commute into Toronto to see the parade


Mannnnn that could lead to some annoyed business people. Hopefully they also took the day off to go so they wouldn't be that mad (though probably still mad).


Depending on my context, I really like this flow. If I am working on a particularly hairy logical problem or working on any crunchtime deadlines it's a distraction.

If I'm kind of setting up scaffolding or marching through unit tests, it's a nice relaxing presence.


I don't have the cable. I consume my medias mainly through streaming. But it is too much of a distraction. I usually listen to instrumental songs either lofi/hip-hop or metal genre. When I need some boost I crank some heavy stuff (wth lyrics) like Cannibal Corpse, Slipknot, Gojira and the likes.


Amazon Prime has been trying to disguise cable packages into their service so anything that looks good prompts to purchase an additional subscription. It's kind of annoying.

Netflix most Star Trek Series so its all I really need


I like to watch tv while doing some low effort work. For example, writing a post for my blog (depends on the content though) or fiddling around with the JS or styling of my blog. Keeps me in the mood for doing both.

It 100% distracts me if I am trying to do actual work though.


I like is quiet, and prefer no one around. People watching me think I'm having a mental breakdown because I talk to myself and even argue sometimes. Just seems to help me work out problems if I say the out loud.


Something I've tried a handful of times instead of music or podcasts is to stream tv or Netflix in a hidden tab, because it's background noise but not something I can invest in or be emotional about, I'm not discovering a new artist or jamming about. With the tab hidden, pinned or in another window my environment is free from distraction. I just have to stay focused on my narrative while something else parallel to me is ocurring, I think like a podcast it helps me feel a bit less lonely and more attentive to my own situation so I'm less likely to procastinate..


When I was a liberal arts student, nothing was better writing background noise than WWE. Steady white-noise, enough storyline to glance up and get absorbed in something when I needed a break, not enough of a distract to keep me pulled out of a project. Curious if this will work in coding, too. But I could rewatch most favorites without getting distracted.


My internet connection deep in the boonies is not fast enough ATM to stream something on TV and also have web browsers open on my laptop. I get easily distracted by sounds, so I am able to focus more when I have either silence or headphones on. Most times I like to passively listen to NHK so I can count it towards Japanese study time and get two birds stoned at once.


Something that your used to always feels like you’ll be less distracted. I’m more of a music guy that’ll never distract me


Sometimes if I have time to play with a little project I'll watch an old, slower-paced TV show, like original Twilight Zone or Star Trek TOS.
I am mostly self-taught and it took me a while to realize that my output was wayyy higher with the tv off. I usually listen to coding music on coderadio.freecodecamp.org (stuff like Bonobo and nujabes, NO lyrics). Or classical music.
I have also used "coffee shop sounds" from coffitivity.com .


TV no, definitively too distracting for me, but music is fundamental to me. It has always been, since I was in school. I say that is like "cooling fluid" for my brain (I actually feel it in this way).

What kind of music? Mixed stuff, actually, but not classical nor "relaxing & meditation" type (the kind you would expect, I guess).

My preferences are for very rhythmic music: R'n'R, Boogie, surf, ... from the 50-60's, italo disco from 80's, sometimes "regional" genres (e.g., country, pizzica), Italian pop like Ricchi e Poveri, Pupo and RondΓ² Veneziano, liscio (kind of Italian variation on ballroom music) even some modern dance genres (e.g., techno).


I need music to drown out all the noise around me. Moving visuals I can't do though that's a distraction. Sometimes conference talks are ok as the visuals are much slower paced. My brain can't look away.


I get easily distracted, so I try to avoid everything that keeps my attention. Tv is no-no for me. Actually I really do not watch Tv on a regular basis.
However music also keeps me distracted. While work I can only afford to have lyric free music. There are two coding lists on Spotify I like a lot.
These are a bit hard buy keep you motivated.
If there is too much noise around and I need to focus, then I listen to yoga or reiki music.


Total distraction. I love watching TV so it'll definitely pull me away from working and I'll end up binging 6 or 7 episodes.


Super distracting. My partner can watch a whole new show though. I’m envious


I put on a podcast normally joe rogan experience πŸ˜„


I can only concentrate if I have complete silence. Sometimes I'll code in front of the TV if I'm doing some design concepts or straightforward CSS though


Certainly a distraction for me πŸ˜•
However I am fully capable to code and listen to podcasts πŸ˜„


It's both. I agree that putting something you've seen a billion times isn't that distracting. Plus, I've always used tv to fall asleep so I'm sure it works more like a white noise for some.


Visual entertainment is visually distracting. I stick to music; don't care if my ears are distracted, they aren't doing anything important.


Definitely a distraction. Same thing with pretty much any video.

Music doesn't bother me, but complete silence drives me mad.


Depends on the day and the work. It's the same as music. Only if I know clearly what I need to do and how I can tolerate them.


Personally I cannot even listen to podcasts or audio books while working. Would be amazing if I could, but sadly music with lyrics is as far as I can go.


Background noise. Although the tv is usually set to the weather network.

So it’s kind of like listening to music at the grocery store.


Eeek! I came to vote "Distraction" but your vote-bait voting method is a pretty douchebag move -- I will vote with "Report Abuse" I guess


Hi David,

I can see you're a new user on DEV.to.
Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Calling people douchebags is against the code of conduct because it would be classified as being rude or vulgar.
  2. I'm already at 5000+ followers. Reactions aren't worth much to bother 'vote-baiting" unless they are at least I get 500+ reactions and those 500+ reactions need to be new people I'm not already interacting with which is unlikely the case.

When I want more followers I will release full courses for free that I've created or selflessly helps hundred of developers.

and Welcome to DEV.to! 🌈


Ugg, that was definitely a rude reaction on my part.

I appreciate your rather kind response. I apologize and I will endeavor in increase my "Count to N to cool off before replying" limit in hopes of reducing these types of messages going forward.

I didn't expect to see that when I clicked to reply to your post and it really isn't a good practice, whether you need the points or not. Endorsing the behavior is a bad idea and I recommend you consider how your choice to use it enables others.

A few days ago Ben (creator of DEV.to) release an article on a new voting feature.
My constructive criticism of this new feature (which is not Generally Available) was that it may be another feature that is not necessary.

So I hypothesized It may be possible to leverage existing functionality such as reactions as a voting mechanism. This voting behaviour is not uncommon as it is seen in social media sites such as Facebook.

First Attempt

I set out to do an experiment to see if voting based on reactions would work as intended.
My first attempt was to have people react and comment to specific comments I created within the post. The reason I set it up this way was that I thought it would better organize the two votes and I had concern over using the Heart and Unicorn post reactions as I really want to count how many people vote instead of boosting my post.

Comment reactions work differently than post reactions. I know this since I contribute and have through the DEV.to codebase multiple times.

So here you can see the vote on comments method:

The result was not as I hoped since votes were not always under the respective location.

Second Attempt

So this post was an attempt to see how voting based on post reactions would work.
I would say it provided much better insight as I could see early on what was the preferred vote.
However, as more reactions amassed they normalized. So using voting based on post reaction does not work well in the long run.


I didn't take personal offence to being called a douchebag because it's not the first time on DEV.to. Online communicate is fraught with lack of information so I can understand how things can be percieved.

My attitude is give me people the benifit the doubt or ask why before replying.

Also, I'm obligated by 🍁Candian law to be friendly eh.