I think of my life as a kind of music, not always good music but still having form and melody.

                                                                                    — John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Once you add music to any event, chances are that you will memorize the detail with astonishing clarity. There is no magic behind this fact as academic studies confirm that music has a significant impact on attention performance. Moreover, it is a proven fact as well that music makes an influence on work performance.

The topic though is not straightforward and leaves a lot for interpretation depending on what context we put music into as a subject of discussion.

Why you need music at work🎧

According to the most recent data, the average amount of time spent listening to Spotify by the platform’s subscribers was 25 hours per month. With a number of its monthly users reaching 248 million and an engraved habit of listening to music at work, the idea of streaming music content for the whole day as total does not sound entirely unbelievable. Interestingly, the highest streaming activity comes at 16.00 when, apparently, people need to feel a bit pumped up for completing the mission of office survival.

Regarding such illustrative stats for just one of many streaming services, it is easy to imagine the scale of music presence in the offices in general. With that being said, the question we want to address below is what influence music has on our productivity.

Connecting productivity and the choice of music might seem like a mystery to most of us but not to the experts on neuroscience. The body of research on connection of our performance and music has increased in volume considerably and, overall, confirmed that music makes a direct positive impact on listeners in terms of stimulation emotions, memories and the ability to focus.

While noise as unwanted sound is one of the major productivity killers, music, on the contrary, is listed among well-known mood boosters. In noisy office environments like open office areas as well as areas equipped with industrial machines, music allows workers to chip away and be able to focus.

Therefore, narrowing the topic down to what to listen to acquire  and, most importantly, retain information when performing tasks, whether ambitious or repetitive, we assume that music in the office helps reach three ultimate goals:

  • to take care of psychological well-being and successfully deal with the shortage of privacy imposed on us by open space (read the research published in Harvard Business Review to know more mind-blowing detail on this topic)
  • to focus for producing the work of value by picking the type of music best-suited to the task at hand
  • to eliminate distractions by blocking off the noisy environment.

Overall, when you do monotonous work listening to music can be helpful as the tasks feel less of a burden. As a side note, music will increase productivity in case you listen to something creating a positive mood.

What music you need at work🔊🎼

Before naming the types of music that can be helpful in terms of increased productivity, let us see what kind of music is NOT facilitating the work process and proved to be distracting in case you need to concentrate on the task at hand.

In particular, music with lyrics will be imposing the multi-tasking mode that is not beneficial either for your brain or your productivity.  Music with lyrics literally switches on hearing the words, and it negatively influences on brain wiring to tasks that involve writing or reading.

With excluding this type of music, let us delve deeper into understanding what tempo of music is the best suited to work mode in terms of contributing to productivity spikes.  

bmp: beats per minute

The rule pertaining to tempo has the scientifically grounded foundations. Beats immediately activate motor areas of the brain that make our bodies sync with the rhythm, which is the reason why we perceive the high tempo as dancing kind of music.

To put it into nutshell, the faster the tempo, the more energetic the musical piece sounds because tempo changes the character of music even if the pattern stays the same (hello, club remixes lovers!). To know the exact beat, just click here (keep in mind that music above 120 bmp keeps us wide awake)

Types of music that you can give a try to feel more productive:

Classics

It turns out that familiar sounds never create challenge to our brain so if you want to concentrate and guarantee zero distraction at work, you can choose classical music. Its relaxing nature makes it an easy background. Although Mozart does not make us extra smart (alas, 'the Mozart effect' was not confirmed), it is still inspirational in terms of stimulating our creativity that will be helpful especially when we do tasks involving spatial-temporal reasoning.

Instrumental ambient

Instrumental ambient tracks demonstrate the similar capabilities in regard to creating the 'proper sound' and flowing into the zone. The immersive melodies with good rhythm can be game-changers when it comes to concentration. What is appealing about this type of music is that it highlights a certain emotion  while encompassing distinctive samples of familiar sounds like wind blowing, or waterfall rocking, or classic patterns repeating, which means that, with plenty of resources to choose from, firing up the playlist of ambient music will be an enjoyable mission.  

Dramatic uplifting

Generally speaking, music has great potential when it comes to upping your mood, and, eventually, efficiency. Epic dramatic soundtracks with their clear beats may surprise you with effect of elevating your mind and boosting your creativity. You can find soundtracks of certain length to allocate it as a time for performing tasks, or, you can apply a time tracker to ensure the unbroken workflow and guarantee to get things done while listening to music in the background.                                          

The experts agree that the music genre that might impact your personal and business productivity is often based on personal preference and taste. There is just one step from music being improving your mood just enough to focus on work and absorbing you too much. Thus, you need to cross the music that is under-focusing your attention on the task (you can make some experiments to know how your perception of music of certain tempo or genre affects your productivity, and then create and curate respective playlists).

Well, it looks like your eclectic taste in music might serve your productivity: after all, the more genres of music you enjoy, the more boost your productivity might get.

Binaural Entrainment

Talking of music for work productivity, we could not ignore the domain of brainwave entrainment that includes practice of listening to binaural beats because they create the big industry sector with half a million videos available on YouTube and over 12000 binaural beats sold on Amazon.

It is supposed that while exposing yourself to certain frequencies (Alpha Waves, Beta Waves, Delta Waves, Mu Waves, etc.) you activate your brain for performing some activities with improved efficiency (for example, alpha waves are associated with feeling calm and focused; that is why they are recommended for study and learning).

But there is lack of substantial research to validate the proof of benefits the binaural beats bring to listeners, mainly because the brain states produce the brainwaves and not the other way round. The only proven difference for binaural beats listeners was the soothing effect and reduction of anxiety.      

The Final Note🎵

Voluntary added as an activity, music is an effective antidote to the overload. Listening to music in office environment is somewhat of a perk due to the positive contribution it makes to our psychological well-being. It is also an easy way to deal with distractions and exposure to stress.

Knowing what music intensifies speed of your performance and helps you reach the productivity spikes, you can easily take steps to get more out of this simple hack and reduce the costs  on noisy office environment and distractions. Moreover, the 'right' music can provide you with deeper focus, and a higher level of concentration on any task you have on mind.