AirPods Pro Can Help You Hack Your Brain
How to use Apple’s signature noise-canceling earbuds to drop into a creative flow
I am always looking for hacks that allow me to get into the zone faster, stay there longer, and increase my creative output. Here’s a new trick that has been working for me lately.
You may recall my previous advice on how to trigger flow with coffee. The idea here is the same. Our bodies are programmable, and if we are intentional about the inputs we allow into our system, we can optimize how we experience the world. Sound is a critical ingredient of our mental interface, and using it to your advantage should be a part of your flow-hacking strategy.
For Christmas this year, I got a pair of AirPods Pro. I was expecting them to be an upgrade to my aging first-generation AirPods, but what I experienced was something unexpected. When I first inserted the AirPods Pro in my ears, the sensation was disorienting. I’ve heard other people describe it as adding a soundtrack to your life. Others call them Apple’s first augmented reality device. That’s not what it feels like to me. The closest thing I can compare it to is flow, that euphoric feeling when the world disappears and you are alone with your work. It feels like an altered state. This makes it an ideal tool for flow hacking.
If you doubt my experience, I should probably mention that I am not new to noise-canceling headphones. I have over-the-ear Bose noise-canceling headphones that I use at work. I love them. For me, they are the only thing that makes working in an open office space tolerable. And while my productivity has improved because of the Bose headphones, they don’t automatically trigger flow.
But AirPods Pro are different. The sensation is deeper, almost inside your skull. I especially notice it when I pull the AirPods Pro out of my ears and re-enter the real world. It is like the first steps as you exit an escalator, where the world slows down and it takes you a moment to reorient yourself. Why not use this sensation to your advantage?
Here are four suggestions for how to control flow using AirPods Pro.