Which music should you listen to for productivity?

Oftentimes we’ve innumerable distractions at the job competing for our attention. Fortunately, music can help put us back on a more productive track.

Studies out of the University or college of Birmingham, England, show that music is effective in raising efficiency in repetitive work – so if you’re mindlessly checking email or filling out a spreadsheet, adding some tunes will make your task go by that much faster.

But when it comes to tasks that require more brainpower, finding that perfect playlist is not so easy. Luckily, we have science at our disposal to help.

Based on some of what we know about how music affects productivity, you should try funnelling this kind of music through your headphones the next time you’re feeling unproductive:

Songs that include sounds of nature

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently discovered that adding a natural element could boost moods and focus.

Sounds of nature can mask intelligible speech just as well as white noise while also enhancing cognitive functioning, optimising 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.

You could attempt hearing recordings of nature sounds simply, or check out this tranquil vocals that incorporates sounds of water:

Songs you love

Hearing music you prefer can cause you to feel better. Teresa Lesiuk, an assistant teacher in the music treatment method program at the School of Miami, discovered that personal choice in music is important, in those who find themselves moderately skilled at their careers especially.

Generally participants in her studies who paid attention to music they enjoyed completed their duties quicker and developed 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. ”


Tunes you don’t really care about

Different research suggests, however , that music you’re ambivalent about could be best.

Experts from Fu Jen Catholic College or university in Xinzhuang City, Taiwan, studied how listener’s fondness for music afflicted their focus. They found when employees strongly loved or disliked the music they noticed in the backdrop they truly became more sidetracked by it.

Tracks without lyrics

Words are distracting. Relating to analyze from Cambridge Audio Management, noise generally isn’t to blame when it comes to lost productivity – it’s how intelligible the words are that causes us to shift focus from our work to figuring out what someone is saying. Conversation distracts about 48 percent of office workers relating to Cambridge’s 2008 study.

When masking your neighbour’s conversation with music, it follows then that you not do this with music that has lyrics – your focus would simply shift from the conversation to the words in a song.

This playlist of lyric-less music may provide the productivity boost you need:

Songs with a particular tempo

Music tempo can have varying impacts on your arousal. One research by Canadian research workers found topics performed better on IQ lab tests while hearing up-tempo music. If your projects 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, Harbour 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. This playlist offers a nice sampling:

Another study by researchers from BMS College of Engineering in Bangalore, Malaysia, saw subjects report a dramatic reduction in feelings of stress and an increased sense of physical relaxation when they listened to music that played around 60 beats per minute. In classical music terms, you would refer this as ‘larghetto’, which translates to not very fast or somewhat slowly.

If you prefer to feel more relaxed while you work, you could try one of Focus @ Will’s playlists dedicated to concentration:

Tunes played at medium volume

Noise level matters. Experts from the University or college of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University or college of English Columbia, Vancouver, and the University or college of Virginia, Charlottesville, discovered that moderate sound levels are befitting creative thinking just.

While both average and high sound levels have been found to open up people’s thoughts to more abstract thinking, high sound levels reduce the brain’s ability to process information.