Pavlovian Dave

When I was in high school I taught myself the physics necessary to take the AP physics exam. I did this by taking a physics textbook and doing all of the problems which had solutions in the back of the book. At the time I was doing this, I had just discovered Dire Straits “Brothers in Arms” album and that is ALL that I listened to when I was working on these problems. When I went off to college, I was sitting in my dorm room one day when I put on the Dire Straits and all of the sudden I notice I had this amazing urge to do physics problems. I had trained myself to do physics whenever I heard that one CD. It was as if Pavlov’s dogs had suddenly learned to do physics.

So now I actually use this technique to get work done. I play a single album or a single song over and over again when I’m working on a particular subject. Then, if I ever have a problem getting working on that particular topic, I pull out the appropriate song and whamo, I can’t help myself from getting work done.

Here is this month’s song for conditioning myself to get work done:
Protect Me
Placebo: “Protect me from what I want”

It’s that disease of the age
It’s that disease that we crave
Alone at the end of the rave
We catch the last bus home

Corporate America wakes
Coffee republic and cakes
We open the latch on the gate
Of the hole that we call our home

Protect me from what I want…
Protect me protect me

Maybe we’re victims of fate
Remember when we’d celebrate
We’d drink and get high until late
And now we’re alone

Wedding bells ain’t gonna chime
With both of us guilty of crime
And both of us sentenced to time
And now we’re all alone

Protect me from what I want…
Protect me protect me

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4 Responses to Pavlovian Dave

  1. Joel says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I used to do that when I was studying – play the same CD over and over again. Typically, I’d work for one or two CD cycles, then have a break. One year it was music from “Good News Week”, a TV show which will mean nothing if you’re not an Aussie 🙂 Another year it was barbershop quartet music, where I loved one song so much I always had to stop work to listen to it properly. At least it made me want to finish the CD!

    I used to eat peppermints too. Lots of peppermints. (Those large, powdery mints – you know?) To this day, I associate peppermints with studying. And, of course, my GNW CD!

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  2. mick says:

    Back in the old days when I did debating our team used to listen to “anarchy in the UK” before every debate. It was kinda the last of many mental preperation tools that we used. Now whenever I hear that song I get argumentative and verbose…

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  3. JM Geremia says:

    I have a different problem. During undergrad I used to do all my reading and problem sets lying down on either my bed or the floor. Now, I cannot think unless prone. Kinda sucks.

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  4. aram says:

    I found the three song loop “Body Movin'”, “Funk Soul Brother” and “Renegade Master” so effective, even for 8-10 hour blocks, that now I have to use it sparingly, if at all. The challenge of writing a dissertation in the presence of blogs may make it necessary again, though…

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