I've touched on this before but the importance of it has only become evident to me in the last few days. As I find myself sitting at my desk for hours at a time or even sitting on my bed writing or doodling, I always have a little tunage rolling in the background, earphones have become an essential part of my day.
When working in a studio environment, you'll soon notice that many different people work in many different ways. Some people work away with their earphones in, some like to chat to people as they draw, others are happy to do their work in silence. Me, I'm a big fan of chatting away to someone as I work, as long as it's not something that requires any legitimate thought. I find it helps prevent me from getting too precious or immersed in what I'm doing. But when I'm trying to keep ideas flowing or work out things, I need to have my head in the right place. For this I absolutely need my earphones, big hi fi ones if I can get my hands on them. Acoustic music is recommended, or something you can tap your foot to, I've heard jazz is nice too. I don't advise listening to anything too lively or heavy, in the studio or at home. Animation is something that can only be done while stationary and any heavy music will just make you want to get up and jump around and dance so I fully endorse acoustic albums or film scores (The Social Network is excellent to work to). And remember, there's nothing wrong with bopping away to music while you're in a studio full of people, you're in an expressive business. Nobody is going to begrudge you a little dancing.
When it finally comes to animating, I can kinda switch off mentally and allow my hands and eyes to do their own thing. This is when I mix things up a bit and try to get something slightly more mentally stimulating than music. Podcasts and blu ray commentaries are excellent for this. I stress commentaries and not the actual film as it's so easy to just start watching the screen instead of what you're actually doing. I find that sometimes listening to someone enthusiastically talk about how they made a film or television show can be, dare I say, inspirational to me in my own work. It might also be a good idea to try and stick with more light hearted or humorous podcasts, you're going to be animating for hours, you want to keep your spirits up.
So if you're heading out to the studio or just about to sit down at home to doodle, make sure you've got a pair of earphones and some music. The earphones are particularly important because they not only spare your classmates/colleagues from your musical taste but they also deter your classmates from talking to you (hence the more obvious hi fi headphones). They're like personal "Do Not Disturb" signs. Don't forget that a little bit of studio chat is healthy and I highly recommend it, but when crunch time hits and you need to produce work, throw the headphones in and find a nice acoustic playlist on YouTube.