Some people feel like music could be a distraction when working, while others swear by it. Pro music workers often say that it helps them concentrate better, but is there any merit to that claim?
Well, scientists have been observing the effects of music on concentration, cognitive ability, and productivity for years, and have traced a link between the usage of music and enhanced performance. This could have big repercussions for those who’d like to be more productive at work and could be used as a tool to boost morale in the workplace. Let’s take a look at the findings, and how you can use music to increase your productivity at work.
According to a study that was published in Time magazine, music did improve workers’ creativity and problem-solving skills. But what is said to be causing that effect is that music can elevate the mood, and when people are in an elevated state, they are naturally more productive.
According to the University of Miami’s Associate Professor of Music Therapy and Music Education, Theresa Leisuk, people who listen to music that they like experience a good feeling about 90% of the time, and listening to music tends to produce mild, positive moods which are conducive to work.
But There’s a Catch
However, how much more productive people are when listening to music depends on many factors. While music did elevate some of the workers’ problem-solving skills, things like short term memory seemed to be affected negatively by music. Music with fast tempos was also disruptive. So, it really depends on which music you’re listening to, and what type of work you’re doing.
It was also shown that people who were already familiar with what they did tended to do better than others with music. However, those who were experts at what they did showed an elevated mood, but didn’t get any boost in productivity. Novices also did not show any increase in productivity as they were still learning their skill. So, music seemed to have the best effect on those who were just moderately good at their task.
The Neurological Reasons Behind Music’s Effect
According to Leisuk, music tends to stimulate parts of the brain that are associated with cognition and problem-solving. Music stimulates the brain’s pleasure center, which goes from the limbic brain all the way to the orbital frontal cortex, which is the area responsible for higher thinking. In short, music can help release extra dopamine in the brain, which has a brain-boosting effect and can help with concentration. As a matter of fact, many ADHD drugs trigger a dopamine reaction, which then improves concentration and productivity.
How to Boost Your Productivity with Music
If you want to use music to increase productivity, you first need to know which types of music are helpful. If possible, try to stay away from anything with a fast tempo or with lyrics. Lyrics can really throw you off, especially if you’re trying to do some creative work.
Classical music has been long touted as the best type of music for productivity. Some researchers even called it the “Mozart Effect”. According to the theory, listening to classical music not only improves brain activity, but could even be a catalyst to greater health and wellbeing. Various studies have found that listening to classical composers could help with spatial reasoning and puzzle solving.
Nature music and sounds have also been shown to help with concentration and cognition. However, the type of nature sounds you use will make a difference. For instance, soothing sounds like crashing waves, rainfall, or flowing water will be better while more jarring sounds like birds singing or animal sounds might be disruptive.
One particular study by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that nature sounds worked particularly well when it came to increasing focus and boosting moods. The study was conducted on a group of workers who were exposed to nature music playing in the background. The researchers found that the workers had a much more positive attitude and were more productive. Other genres of music that have been found to have a positive effect on brain function include cinematic music, video game music, and music between 50 to 80 beats per minute.
The way you use music can also have an effect. For instance, some people will not be able to work with music at all. However, research shows that listening to music between tasks could also be beneficial. So, you could use music during breaks to “refresh” your brain when you’re experiencing mental fatigue.
As you can see, music does have a significant impact on how your brain works, as well as your productivity levels. So, make sure you consider adding some music to your work routine, and you’ll be able to reap all of its benefits.
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