Have you ever put headphones on while working? Many people enjoy listening to music while performing repetitive or boring tasks, or in an especially noisy or quiet workplace, because the custom ‘soundtrack’ makes things more lively.
This is the same reason we recommend all businesses use hold music when they place callers on hold.
While some may feel that listening to music at work hampers productivity, the research overwhelmingly reports that under the right circumstances, listening to music can make you more productive. We’ll talk about those circumstances in more detail in this post.
So, how can music make you more productive at work?
It makes you happy
Studies have confirmed that the sound of music appeals to our brains, encouraging the release of dopamine just like eating a favorite food or smelling something pleasant would. Dopamine plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior, so when it’s released, we feel that we’ve been internally (intrinsically) rewarded.
Listening to music means more dopamine is released, and scientists believe that’s part of the reason our productivity rises when we listen to music while performing a task.
It can be an escape
In non-ideal conditions, like a very noisy or distracting workplace, listening to music can make you more productive by effectively removing those distractions and creating a more predictable environment that is conducive to productivity.
Using music at work to ‘escape’ your surroundings shouldn’t be a full-time fix, though. You need to be aware of your immediate surroundings and available to other coworkers and employees, should they need you. It can also be considered rude to use headphones during an entire shift.
It boosts creativity
You might say that productivity is one part creativity and one part tenacity. Listening to music of your own choice–and that part is important if you want to see an increase in productivity–can help boost creativity by providing an ambient, familiar background that stimulates the brain just enough to get the wheels turning.
What kind of music works best?
The presence or absence of lyrics should be key in your music choices at work, at least most of the time. Those working on language-based tasks, like writing or editing, should skip music with lyrics because it provides the same type of distraction that a noisy office does: intelligible chatter, or words you can clearly hear and understand. That takes your brain’s focus away from the task at hand, rendering you less productive.
However, if you’re performing physical or non-language related tasks, lyrics in music can make you more productive. Research showed that workers listening to music with lyrics while performing repetitive tasks that didn’t include language components had a slightly higher increase in productivity than with music without lyrics.
Another important factor of the music you listen to while you work: The volume. Music at a moderate volume has the optimum effect on productivity, but if you cross that line and the music is too loud, productivity takes a sharp decline.
Finally, it’s important that the music be of the listener’s choice and not playing over speakers at the office. The rises in productivity did not occur in groups where music was played for everyone. It’s important for the listener to actually enjoy the music in order to experience the boost in productivity.
Will you try listening to music at work? Do you have any ideas of artists or music styles that would be beneficial to listen to while working?