BrainFM Review: Nootropic Music for Productivity

What is the most commonly used Biohack in the world?
I say it’s emotionally overwhelming music…

When I was younger I would hang out with these very urban young guys and in their cars they would always listen to hyper aggressive, hyper masculine hip hop music at insane volumes that made them feel like men.
In Eastern Europe during the depressing winters, everyone every where listens to obnoxious upbeat American pop music to get through the cold, dark days.
And myself, a perpetually awkward gringo on the dance floor, I like to listen to rhythmical salsa and sexy reggaeton tunes.

You don’t have to listen hard to hear people listening to music to convince themselves that they are something they aren’t.

So if music is a tool for hacking mindset (and it’s hard to argue that it isn’t) what should you listen to while working? There’s a lot of different preferences about this

  • It seems that a lot of people over 40 really like to have the television on in the background (which is insane to me, I can’t stand this!)
  • Hip hop inspires a lot of people to really get into that hustling mindset.
  • Electronica seems to energize many to get stuff done.
  • Some prefer the background din of a cafe.
  • Cognitive psychologists have argued that white noise is a good idea.
  • Some people find that listening to the same album or song on repeat for hours and hours is really conducive to their focus.
  • Many find classical music to be the best for focus.
  • Maybe you even like to listen to my videos and podcasts.

And some people seem to prefer to listen to nothing at all.

When I really need to focus and get creative I listen to Brain.FM and I suggest you do the same! Listen here for free (no signup required) here.
As a focus promoter it’s not quiet as potent as say Modafinil or Oxiracetam but it’s quiet effective; after 10–15 minutes you’ll really find yourself devoting 100% of your attention to whatever is the task at hand.

It’s so effective that I actually paid for a Brain.FM lifetime membership, here’s why…
As I’ve discussed elsewhere I’m an informationaholic, my vice of choice is just binging on information.
Left to my own devices this is what my day looks like…

  • Waking up I check Twitter.
  • I take my Nootropics and walk to work usually while listening to Stefan Molyneux’s philosophy podcasts.
  • In late mornings or early afternoons I listen to audio disaster porn about terrible things happening somewhere in the world. Alex Jones’s seems to be pretty good for this!
  • In the afternoons I really like educational content so I’ll listen to shows about science, health or entrepreneurship like Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Radio.
  • As the day wanes I’ll usually listen to something that’s more feel good or inspirational like Real Social Dynamics videos or the Art of Charm podcast.
  • In the Hour 2 period of the day I’ll listen to something humorous or entertaining like the Joe Rogan podcast or a history program.
  • Before bed I will read a book on my Kindle for 30–60 minutes in a darkened room.
  • Finally, before sleep, in bed I’ll listen to a podcast or audio book.

Notwithstanding time I spend socializing I would spend about 20 minutes total daily NOT binging on information.

The real problem with all this information consumption is that it prevents me from really getting focused enough to reach a truly productive state. My business requires that I spend about a third of my day doing creative work and with all this information consumption pulling my attention every which way I’m just not going to be creative enough to produce good stuff. Deep work does require persistent focus and while all this information consumption probably makes me a more interesting dinner party guest it’s an insidiously sneaky bad habit that prevents me from really getting the important things done. Here’s why, about…
80% of my labor is rote work that dosen’t require 100% of my focus. I can do passive information consumption simultaneously without really hurting the quality of this work.
20% is work that really does require my whole attention, presence and creative energies. Listening to podcasts, audiobooks or the news is going to have a totally detrimental effect on this work.
This is why informationaholism is so insidious; the 20% is where really important stuff that actually moves me towards my goals gets done yet I could easily spend 100% of my time on the 80% of less important stuff. I could work hard and be totally busy all the time yet still fail to really get ahead because I’m indulging my vice.
This is why I spent the money on a Brain.FM lifetime membership. When I’m doing that 20% of my work I listen to Brain.FM. The cost of the lifetime membership is tiny in comparison to the long term cost of not doing my most important work. Having spent the money, I’m way more motivated to consistently use Brain.FM.

Some minimalists or low information diet advocates would say:
Just turn off all that information!
However, when you read biographies of really successful people they are often informationaholics; it really does pay off being very informed about the world. I’d like to have the advantages of being within the top 5% of most informed people without the significant downsides;

  • Fractured attention
  • Chronic stress
  • Rigid autonomic nervous system
  • Heightened cortisol levels

Sometimes I watch or listen to these conservative radio personalities who are so fat and angry at the world and I think; this guy is over consuming information and doesn’t have the healthy habits to handle digesting it!
If I didn’t do meditation, brain training, tantric self cultivation and adaptogenic herbs daily to offset the stress load I would dial my information consumption way down.

One feature I like is that Brain.FM has 4 different settings for session length
30 minutes
1 hour
2 hours
These work as nice arbitrary time limits for projects. Let’s say I have a project that should take me 90 minutes. If I let myself get distracted by Twitter, Youtube or figuring out where I’m going to eat dinner a 90 minute project can easily consume a whole work day but a lot of times I can actually knock it out in a 60 minute Brain.FM session. Those who like the Pomodoro technique will see the utility in this.

I’ll suggest that you actually make the Brain.FM app your browser homepage. What is your homepage now?
The Google homepage with it’s search box just tempting you start searching for whatever you’re curious about at the moment.
Your Gmail inbox? With hundreds of messages demanding your attention.
Links to your favorite social media sites and flashing, popping up notifications.
Youtube homepage curated with viral videos just for you.
Or perhaps worst of all, a newsfeed of terrible events happening somewhere in the world.
How much more productive would you be if first thing upon opening your browser you got into a completely distraction free Brain.FM session?

What really seems to work is to use it after I do my first state reset of the day; which is usually meditation or brain training that I do for about 10–20 minutes after lunch.

It’s fairly bandwidth intensive; sometimes I’ll find myself in a country or city with really spotty Wifi and I’ll find that the Brain.FM doesn’t stream very well. Which brings me to a joke…
This guy and this girl are having sex and during the middle of their passionate lovemaking he just stops and doesn’t move at all. The girl asks: What’s the matter? Why did you stop?
The guy responds: I’m trying this move I saw… It’s called buffering!
That’s how Brain.FM is on a bad Wifi connection.
My lifehack for getting around this is that I recorded a 30 minute focus session and if I don’t have sufficient Wifi I will just play that. Which I’ll share with you in my videoblog review below.

Originally published at

Like what you read? Give Jonathan Roseland a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.