How to Choose Music for Optimal Productivity

How to Choose Music for Optimal Productivity

Music has such an incredible ability to bind your soul to whatever it is that you are doing.

The right song can turn everyday life into an experience. Music inspires memories and awakens our hearts. As important as music can be to paint the pictures of our lives, there is one very important thing music can enhance: productivity. Now, keep in mind: there is science behind the music that is most beneficial to productivity. It’s not as simple as throwing on the latest Taylor Swift album, and dancing your way through your day like I often do. There are some very specific elements to the perfect productivity playlist.

1. Music You Like

As obvious as this one seems, I mention it only because there are a lot of people that tollerate certain styles of music, but do not truly enjoy them. The reasoning here is that music you enjoy makes you happier. Teresa Lesiuk, an assistant professor in the music therapy program at the University of Miami has done several studies where people were allowed to listen to their own music when working on a task versus people who didn’t. The people that listened to music they preferred out-performed the others, according to Lesiuk, because they were in a better mood. “When you’re stressed, you might make a decision more hastily; you have a very narrow focus of attention. When you’re in a positive mood, you’re able to take in more options,” she says.

2. Meaningless Songs

There is a paradox of sorts when it comes to music that you like and the potential productivity benefits. Research has shown that people who listened to songs that they truly loved were actually more easily distracted. This makes sense if you think about it, because if you have strong connections to a song your mind is more likely to wander off to those memories, or more likely to make you sing along.

3. Instrumental/Lyricless Music

A recent study done by Cambridge Sound Management found that speech was responsible for the distraction of 48% of the participants. Song lyrics work the same way that an overheard conversation of a co-worker does when it comes to taking your mind off-task. For optimum productivity, it might be time to break out the techno music.

4. Specific Tempos

Tempo is a very important aspect of music as it pertains to productivity. The more upbeat the tempo is – the more upbeat you tend to be. Believe it or not, there was actually a study done by the University of Maryland in Baltimore, Harbor Hospital in Baltimore, and the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia on the effects of Baroque music on their radiology techs. Apparently Baroque is great for improving productivity. Tempo can have the opposite effect, too. Another study showed that music that had a tempo of less than 60 beats per minute gave participants a feeling of relaxation and reduction of stress.

5. Mind the Volume

Now that you have some ideas of what you should listen to, it’s time to think about how you listen. As easy as it is to plug those ear buds in and drown out the world, research from several universities has shown that medium volume is actually ideal. In fact, loud music actually impairs your brain’s ability to process information.

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