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Can Listening to Music Boost Your Productivity?

23 March 2022

We all have our go-to playlists for boosting our energy during a workout or getting us pumped for a night out. We know that music can brighten our mood when we feel down.

Many of us use background music to help us fall asleep, so we recognise music’s ability to soothe us and calm anxiety, as well as energise us.

Did you also know that listening to music can boost your productivity and improve cognitive performance? Music can soothe the mind, increase motivation and encourage us to think creatively.

Given that music can bring calm, energy, positivity, motivation and clarity of thought, it seems that background music certainly has a place in the workplace.

However, there is an art to productivity-boosting music selection.

The Question of the Selector

Enforced office-wide music may increase worker productivity (as many studies have shown), however it can also be a recipe for office arguments and disgruntlement.

The element of choice can be useful here. Allowing employees to choose their own music (and wear headphones when they listen to it) allows for personalisation and cordial office relations!

Equally a music rota, or simply getting someone who does not work in the office to select the playlist, can help deter arguments.

Once the question of the selector has been answered, now comes the hard part - creating an effective playlist for productivity.

Here are some tips to get you started:

#1 Start Slow

Any work playlist should be constructed with the order of the working day in mind.

Starting off with 3-4 tracks which will help you to settle into work are a great way to begin.

Good transition music might be mood boosting, calming or stimulating.

Avoiding pop chart hits, musical numbers and anything high-intensity is advisable at this stage.

#2 When to Play Your Power Songs

As your working day kicks off, you might want to increase the tempo to boost your mood and productivity.

Songs paced at around 121bpm have proven to increase productivity, so think empowering, upbeat pop or punchy rock.

Music which activates the mind, boosts confidence and helps to motivate us can be useful especially near the start of the day, before important meetings, at transition points, and at the end of the day.

#3 Concentration Boost

As powerful as power pop can be, you don’t want a solid 6 hours of exhilarating anthems.

When deep concentration is needed, like when reading, your musical needs will change - and so should your playlist.

Classical music, nature soundscapes and instrumental music all offer mind-boosting background sound that is uncluttered by distracting lyrics. They also flow imperceivabley from one track to the next.

If you do opt for lyrics, ensure they are repetitive, simple or subtle. Think acoustic folk - the more stripped back, the better.

#4 Beat the Monotony

Repetitive tasks also require their own music style.

When we complete monotonous tasks our moods need a boost and our minds need some distraction. This might be dull paperwork, assembly line-type tasks or organisational tasks like stacking shelves. Whatever tasks you complete which make your mind feel slow and uninterested are the ones that need special attention.

This is really where personalisation is important. To beat the monotony, you need songs that you love, that never fail to boost your mood, and can occupy your mind.

You might go old school and listen to songs from your childhood, or perhaps revisit your love of musicals. You might listen to your favourite movie soundtracks or summery pop hits from across the decades.

Whatever you choose, if it makes you want to sing along and bop around the supply room you have chosen well.

#5 Upbeat Ending

End the working day on a high!

Choose something upbeat to get you through the last tasks of the day. Selecting music which complements your evening or weekend plans can help you whizz through to clocking-off time.

Perhaps you will be seeing a show, planning to watch a beloved film, or seeing a friend. Music can help you to recall positive memories and look forward to future experiences.

Silence Can Be Golden

While music has so many benefits which can help to boost productivity in the workplace, there are undoubtedly also moments that require silence.

Beyond the obvious ones like in board meetings and during important video calls, there are some tasks that require undivided attention and are not suited to musical accompaniment.

Anything that requires so much brain attention that your mind feels wrung out might benefit from silence. Once your brain is free again, you might then reach for a mood booster or relaxing soundscape.

Spending your breaks talking to your colleagues can also be as beneficial as listening to music. Equally, team-based tasks often get off to a better start without music so as not to deter necessary communication.

Find the music to suit every moment and mood of your working day and you will see your playlist-making efforts rewarded with productivity and cognitive performance benefits.