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Things To Do While Listening To Music

When listened to actively, music is absorbing. On the surface, it might just possess the ears.

But when allowed to consume us, it possesses our entire minds and bodies.

Music’s ability to invade us is how we get those lumps in our throats, those tears in our eyes, and those shivers that take us by surprise when a note or lyric does that thing.

Even when we’re not actively listening, music often steals our senses away from other things.

That’s its superpower.

It can be hard for us to ignore.

But, for many people, listening to music is a more passive activity (at least sometimes).

We might listen at work, or as we commute, or while we work out.

Some people may not have the time they’d like to devote to active listening, so passive listening becomes a necessity.

If you wish you had more time to actively listen to music, or think you might fit a few more things into your day by combining your music consumption with other things, the trick is to find things that won’t fully occupy your mind.

In your search for what to do while listening to music, here are a few ideas that occupy the hands, eyes, and body, while leaving the mind somewhat free to notice all those key changes and crescendos.

Top Things To Do While Listening To Music

These are some of the best things to do while listening to music, according to us.

1 – Commute.

While there is no definitive estimate for how many commuters listen to music while driving, some studies estimate the number as high as 90% and we can make the safe assumption that the answer is “a lot.”

It makes sense.

Commuting is a boring part of a lot of people’s days and music makes it a little less grueling.

The problem with listening to music while commuting is that driving (or riding a bike) shouldn’t be a passive activity and music affects us in very real ways.

Studies have shown music can make us drive both more erratically (heavy metal) and too relaxed (classical).

All styles of music have been shown to impact our reaction times on the road, with the volume of the music being a major contributing factor.

So, why on Earth is commuting still on our list of things to do while listening to music?

Here’s our big bid.

Have you looked into public transportation?

If you have public transport available in your city, but choose to drive instead, ask yourself if you might actually have more time if you took the subway or bus.

Even if a bus or train takes a little longer to get you to your destination, that time is complete idle time where you don’t have to think at all.

So, might it be worth it to make the switch?

It would certainly benefit the environment and encourage the development of better infrastructure in more places. (Supply and demand and all that).

2 – Chores.

On a daily basis, you probably have a lot of small tasks you should be doing, but don’t really want to do.

Many of these chores are fairly quiet and leave your mind largely unoccupied. (You might have to think a little to not cut yourself while washing the dishes, but it shouldn’t take that much brain power. )

Putting on music while you fold laundry, iron your clothes, or clean gives your mind space, while simultaneously providing welcome distraction from the boring necessities of life.

3 – Make dinner and eat it.

Speaking of boring necessities, even if you don’t have a lot of small tasks to do on a daily basis (lucky you!), you do have to eat, and mealtimes are a great time to put your music on.

If you cook your own meals, you’ll have a little extra time for listening.

If you don’t, you’ll still have the time you’re actively eating, with the bonus that food in mouths keeps everyone quiet.

4 – Exercise.

All gym rats know there is nothing quite like music to get that adrenaline pumping.

But weight lifting takes concentration (or should), so it’s hard to actively listen while doing the bench press.

More passive exercises, however, like walking, leave your mind free to focus on other things.

So if it’s a cardio day, you can probably fit some active listening in.

Just make sure you’re being safe about it.

Getting lost in the music with earbuds in on a treadmill or recreational path is far safer than walking on the side of the road.

And, remember, dancing is also exercise.

5 – Paint, sketch, or color.

We’ll dub this “creative R&R”.

Grab a paintbrush, pencil or box of crayons and just let the mood take you.

This isn’t the time to work on your magnum opus. You don’t want to put that much thought into it.

The point is to pay attention to the music and just relax on everything else.

You can create your Mona Lisa later.

Things To Do Online While Listening To Music

While being on the Internet and listening to music at the same time isn’t ideal (it’s way too easy to get distracted, especially if you’re looking at social media or websites), if you do a lot of your music listening online, you may be looking for a few mindless activities you can do simultaneously.

While there aren’t a whole lot of them (seriously, stay away from MOST social media), here are a few things we think you might be able to get away with while remaining mostly focused on your tunes.

Play online games.

Simple games. Mindless games.

That means no chess or RPGs.

But you can probably handle a few games of Zumba or Mahjong.

Browse Instagram, but don’t read it.

If you’re an Instagram scroller, getting through your feed is one thing you can do while listening to music.

But if you’re a regular caption reader, we don’t recommend it.

Watch the videos, or better yet, the live performances.

If you really want to tune into the music you’re listening to while doing something online, why not completely immerse yourself?

Instead of going straight to streaming, seek out some music you want to listen to in video form. (Try YouTube or Vimeo.)

Then, just watch and listen.

You won’t find everything out there, but you’ll find a lot.

Things To Do On Your Phone While Listening To Music

When it comes to tinkering on your phone while listening to music, you’ll have the same issues you’ll have online.

Basically, your smart phone is designed to be a constant source of distraction.

Notifications from 105 different apps, anyone?

So first of all, turn those notifications right the hell off.

Then, stick to mindless things.

Here are a few.

Play games.

Like on the computer, you have the option of playing games on your phone, which we hold is one of the best options for things to do on your phone while listening to music.

Just stick to games that don’t require any deep thinking or reading (i.e. play Candy Crush, not Stardew Valley or Wordle).

Browse Instagram.

You also still have the option of scrolling through Instagram on your phone.

Just skip the captions and leave those videos minimized and silent.


Our only other recommendation for playing on your phone (iPhones at least) while listening to music is to pull up your Notes app and use the Markup tools to get sketchy.

It’s basically like having a mini-sized drawing tablet, and is perfect for music-inspired doodles.

What Should I Do While Listening To Music?

When it comes down to it, how you should spend your time while listening to music depends on what you want to get out of the music itself.

If you’re okay with passive listening (not being entirely tuned in, missing a few lyrics here and there) there are all kinds of things you can do.

You could work in your garden, clean your house, build a sculpture, play hopscotch, whatever.

But if you want to actively listen (to be totally present with the music), you need to keep things simple.

Focus on basic activities that require zero thought (like walking).

And if you notice you’re tuning out from time to time while you do whatever it is you’re doing, stop doing it and try something else.

Or, better yet, just set your speakers so they aim at each other, lay down with your head between them, and close your eyes.

There is no better way to actively listen to music than to just listen to the music.

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