Listening to music has been a normal activity that follows us on a day to day basis. While some of us see this as a recreational thing, others believe that it helps them to be more productive. Thus, a lot of us tend to include listening to music while we’re studying and/or working. This sort of makes sense, considering music has an effect to boost our mood.
In light of this, experts weigh in on this with further study and research on the effects of music to our productivity when it comes to work. Interestingly, up until now, the opinion on the matter is still debatable with each rationale of reasonings. Some experts second the opinion that music could help to concentrate, while others contradict the claim by saying that it can be distracting.
The Evidence of Music Effect to Productivity
First thing first, music has a profound effect on our mood, blood pressure, and heart rate. Listening to music has been shown to cause the release of dopamine, meaning that it is a pleasurable, rewarding experience which can relax an individual. With a calm and relaxed state of mind, it’s safe to assume that people can deal as well as handle pressure better.
When it comes to effects of music to our work or study productivity, it has been discovered that any ambient sound or background noise — such as talkers, sneezers, traffic — can be a great distraction. The test indicates that people who work in environments with background music were found to get better results than those who work against background noise.
The most famous theory linking music and cognitive performance is the ‘Mozart effect’, the popular idea that listening to Mozart makes you smarter. The research itself was interested in the relation between Mozart and ‘spatial-temporal reasoning’, or knowing how to fit things into other things, basically.
Dr. Masha Godkin, a professor in the Department of Marriage and Family Sciences at Northcentral University, weigh in on the matter and linking it to brain activity. She explained that music has the potential to take someone from the Beta brainwave state to a deeper Alpha, and then Theta brainwave states. Furthermore, she also says,
“Music activates both the left and right brain at the same time, and the activation of both hemispheres can maximize learning and improve memory.”
How Can Music be Distracting?
While it’s true that music can lift our mood and gives us a relaxed focus, it may also decrease performance on cognitively demanding tasks. Contradicting to the latter, there are opinions that believed listening to music while working can be distracting — unless when doing activities that are repetitive or routine tasks. Moreover, singing along to the music may further increase the distraction.
In an acticle from Time.com, Annie Murphy Paul, book author and journalist, stated that music can improve performance when a well-practised expert needs to achieve the relaxed focus necessary to execute a job he’s done many times before. For example, surgeons often listen to music while they’re performing surgeries and they’re more effective.
Music to Help Us Focus?
Despite the differences of opinion, evidence has been found in a study that people perform worse when listening to their preferred, rather than neutral, music. In a sense, there are significant factors that may be impairing when trying to be productive, such as the style, volume, rhythm and ‘state’ of the music. It has been proven that listening to music which is constant, has a steady and repetitive pulse, as well as not too loud is better for concentration.
With that being said, there’s a list of options in terms of music choice that is complementary to focus on working or studying. On a short list of consideration, here are some genres and tips that can be your companion to boost productivity.
- Go classical — the soothing sounds of classical orchestra music seem to increase mood and productivity, which makes it great for studying.
- Consider music tempo — music with 60-70 beats per minute like Beethoven’s Fur Elise appears to help students study longer and retain more information.
- Ambient & nature sounds — ambient music like in spa places, as well as the sound of nature (like birds, wind and rain) are very calming and can help to relax.
- Music without lyrics — an alternative for those who don’t like classical, electronic music like New Age and ambient EDM music which has little to no lyrics would be best.