One of humanity’s greatest achievements is music. Is it true, nevertheless, that listening to music inspires creative solutions?
This is an important query to ponder, given the pervasive presence of music in today’s offices. As art embellishes physical space, music also embellishes the passage of time.
Music has become integral to our daily lives, helping us “optimize the boring” as we stare at screens for long periods (like at work).
Let’s look at the studies linking music and productivity to grasp this topic better.
What Science Says About Music and Productivity
To say that music increases productivity is to oversimplify the scientific relationship between the two. Numerous studies suggest music may indirectly enhance productivity, although in different ways.
Music may lift your spirits.
Research published in Trends in Cognitive Science shows that listening to music is more effective than anti-anxiety medicine for reducing stress and anxiety. Participants in the trial were given either an anti-anxiety medication or instructions to listen to music hours before surgery.
Trial participants who listened to music reported lower levels of the stress-induced hormone cortisol at the end of the study, suggesting that they had experienced less stress during the study.
Even if it has nothing to do with productivity per se, it is common knowledge that one can produce superior results when free of worry, tension, and anger. If listening to music at your office desk makes you feel better, you might theoretically leverage that to your advantage in the workplace.
Music may make mundane tasks more tolerable.
Another research published by the JAMA Network revealed that surgeons completing repeated activities in the lab (apart from surgery) while listening to music exhibited enhanced performance.
Researchers determined that individuals performed better because listening to music alleviated some of the monotony associated with doing repetitive activities.
Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music, concurs with the conclusions of this study. He claimed in his book that music might make repetitious jobs more pleasurable and make concentration easier while performing them.
Listening to music in between tasks has been shown to increase productivity.
Should you limit your listening to music during your breaks? Maybe!
According to research published in the journal Psychology of Music, listening to music between tasks has been shown to improve students’ ability to focus for longer periods and overall academic performance.
However, the available research on music’s effects on productivity does not provide a solid argument for creating a special playlist for the office. Some research suggests that listening to music might decrease productivity.
Several studies have found that playing instrumental music in the background while working in your office chair increases productivity. However, studies showed lyrical music to be a major productivity killer since it constantly distracted employees.
Your personality matters, too.
According to one intriguing study, introverts may prefer working in quiet rather than with music.
This 1997 study, published in the Applied Cognitive Psychology Journal, found that extroverts who listened to music while taking a memory test had improved short- and long-term recall. On the other hand, introverts did much worse on memory tasks when they listened to music instead of doing them quietly.
What’s Our Takeaway?
- Science shows music may promote or hinder productivity. So choose music that won’t bother you, such as instrumentals without words. If you must have lyrics, choose music in a language you don’t speak or old tunes you can tune out.
- Consider your project. If you need to concentrate, work without music. Instead, play music during breaks.
- How loudly you play music might impact your job, according to scientists. Even if your music is disruptive, blasting it loud enough to block out office background noise may help. University of Illinois researchers found that listening to music quietly can aid with concentrated work, but blasting it can improve creativity.
- Choose music without lyrics to boost your focus. Alternately, play the music you know word-for-word, beat-for-beat, pause-for-pause. If your brain expects the music, it won’t be a distraction.
Music or silence? Ultimately, there is no definitive solution to this dilemma. Evidence is mounting, both for and against the usefulness of music in the workplace.
You are aware of who you are and how you function best. Try out different environments by working with or without music. Get your feet wet in a variety of genres to explore what works best for you and how it affects the work you produce.
Try out different music as you work, but don’t feel obligated to stick with it if you find it merely a source of distraction. There is no single approach that is appropriate for all professional tasks.