Music has long been known to boost mental activity. However, there is a lot of debate about whether listening to music while working is a good idea or whether it just serves as a distraction to make you work slower.
Fortunately, there is quite a bit of research to help us separate myth from fact. Overall, the research indicates that the effect that music has on you while you work really depends on the type of music you choose to listen to and the type of work you’re doing.
For instance, if you are performing repetitive tasks such as entering data or filling out spreadsheets, then you can get away with listening to pretty much anything. The bigger challenge is when you need to find the perfect playlist when performing tasks that demand more of your brainpower.
Researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found music that includes sounds of nature to be very good for enhancing your mood and helping you focus. Recordings of nature sounds would, therefore, be very good for work when you need to concentrate.
Sounds of nature can mask intelligible speech just as well as white noise while also enhancing cognitive functioning, optimizing the ability to concentrate, and increasing overall worker satisfaction, the researchers found. The mountain stream sound researchers used in their study also possessed enough randomness that it didn’t distract test subjects. Via Business Insider
If your job requires some level of creativity and you are already pretty good at what you do, songs you enjoy may actually give you that extra boost of creativity. This is because the music you like reduces your stress levels, which in turn gets your creative juices flowing.
The speed of the music may also affect the speed of your work.
One study by Canadian researchers found subjects performed better on IQ tests while listening to up-tempo music. If your work requires you to be more upbeat, you could try listening to music that matches this tempo. Baroque music, for example, is a popular choice for many needing to get work done.
In fact in a small study by researchers at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, Harbor Hospital in Baltimore, and the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia, the radiologists they studied reported an improvement in their work and mood when they listened to baroque music. Via Business Insider
So what is it about the music that can get you distracted?
A major consideration you need to make when choosing music for work is the content of the music and what effect it has on you.
Teresa Lesiuk, an assistant professor in the music therapy program at the University of Miami, found that personal choice in music is important, especially in those who are moderately skilled at their jobs. Generally participants in her studies who listened to music they enjoyed completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t because the music improved their mood.
“When you’re stressed, you might make a decision more hastily; you have a very narrow focus of attention,” she told the New York Times. “When you’re in a positive mood, you’re able to take in more options.” Via Business Insider
For instance, while music you enjoy may help your creativity, it could equally distract you from your work if the lyrics demand attention. According to research, it’s not so much the noise in the music that is distracting, but how intelligible the lyrics are. A Cambridge study showed that speech is a huge distraction for office workers.
In fact, most people use music to block out the noise of conversations going on around them. Drawing from the same reasoning, using music with lots of lyrics creates the very same problem you are trying to avoid. This might explain why instrumental classical music is most often recommended for work purposes.
According to research from Cambridge Sound Management, noise in general isn’t to blame when it comes to lost productivity — it’s how intelligible the words are that forces us to shift focus from our work to figuring out what someone is saying. Speech distracts about 48% of office workers according to Cambridge’s 2008 study.
When masking your neighbor’s conversation with music, it follows then that you not do so with music that has lyrics — your focus would simply shift from the conversation to the words in a song. Via Business Insider
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Drive to work music. 🙁 pic.twitter.com/eLCwMnU26o
— Ed Boon (@noobde) January 11, 2016
How Music Affects Your Productivity
Music is regarded as one of the triumphs of human creativity. But does music itself help one to create?
It’s a question worth asking, since music has increasingly become a part of the modern-day workplace. As Sean Rose noted, music has a strange temporal permanence; as art decorates space, so does music decorate time.
With so much of our time being spent at work, and so much of our work being done at computers, music has become inseparable from our day-to-day tasks—a way to “optimize the boring” while looking at screens. Via Help Scout
The Best Pandora (or Spotify) Stations for Great Music While You Work
Music while you work is one of life’s pleasures, but finding the right music to listen to isn’t easy. You need something you enjoy, but something that won’t distract you or require a ton of management. Let’s make a list of the best Pandora, Spotify, or other radio-style stations for great tunes while you get productive.
There’s no underestimating how much work you can get done when you’re in the zone and listening to music that really helps you stay driven and ready to plow through your work. We all have our favorite Pandora stations, Spotify stations, or artist-generated playlists that help get is in the groove, and keep us there while we work. Let’s share them so we can all benefit! Via LifeHacker
This is the kind of music you should listen to at work
They say that listening to Mozart makes a person smarter, but a new study shows that it’s not only classical music that boosts mental activity.
Nine out of 10 workers perform better when listening to music, according to a new study that found 88pc of participants produced their most accurate test results and 81pc completed their fastest work when music was playing.
“The take-home message is that music is a very powerful management tool if you want to increase not only the efficiency of your workforce but also their mental state, their emotional state – they’re going to become more positive about the work,” said Dr David Lewis, a neuropsychologist and chairman of Mindlab International, the company that conducted the research. Via Telegraph