There probably isn’t a single person on Earth that doesn’t like music.
From traditional tribal and indigenous music to modern age EDM, music is so rooted in human nature that our heartbeats and breathing patterns increase to match the music we’re listening to. We can really feel the beat with our hearts!
But popular opinion is slipt when it comes to listening to music for productivity. Some people like to keep calm background music to get through their tasks; others like louder playlists filled with rock and pop music while working; and some don’t enjoy listening to anything at all.
Is there a right answer about the usage of music for productivity? Let’s uncover what science has to say about it and how to (or not to) introduce music as part of your productivity setup.
Learn more: 9 Productivity Principles For Remote Teams
The human brain and music
Music incites strong reactions in our brains. A study published in the NeuroImage journal found that our emotion-mirroring tendencies lead us to mimic the emotions of a song. A happy song will make us happy, and a sad song will make us gloomy.
In fact, music can play a significant part in brain development. The study Music in the Classroom shows that children who study music have a better academic performance as they learn discipline, cooperation, stress management, and how to express their emotions.
When it comes to just listening to music, music therapy has proved to be an efficient approach for patients with mental health illnesses and cognition impairments. For example, a study with depression patients found that those who received standard care plus music therapy had better and faster mood improvements than those who received standard care alone.
It’s clear that our relationship with music goes beyond leisure and entertainment. Our body’s deep connection with it comes with many health benefits, besides having a good time or crying our eyes out under the influence of music.
But does listening to music have any impact on our daily productivity?
The effect of music on productivity
The 2005’s paper The effect of music listening on work performance answered some questions regarding using music as a productivity booster. For this research, software developers were observed while working with and without music.
The study presents that after three weeks of listening to music while working, the fourth week being without music resulted in a drop in quality of work and increased time spent completing tasks. Both quality-of-work and time-on-task variables had better results in weeks 1, 2, 3, and 5, when music was allowed.
Music can indeed make us more productive. It has the power of making any complex or tedious task more manageable, from writing a long work report to washing the dishes.
Here are a few examples of how music can increase our productivity at work:
Increase in work satisfaction
Listening to music can lift your spirits and boost your work satisfaction. When performing repetitive jobs, music can stimulate your brain in a way that causes less fatigue. When you’re happy with work, your attitude towards it improves along with your productivity.
Decrease in stress levels
Music can be a great stress management tool as it provokes emotion-altering reactions in our brains. Relaxing music can lower our pulse rate and breathing patterns, reducing stress-induced cortisol in our system. As a result, a relaxed mind focuses better and has greater memory retention.
Rhythm as distraction escape
Working in a crowded office, hectic coworking space, or a loud home is often the recipe for ongoing distractions. Music can become a focus anchor as we can use its rhythm to pace our work and forget the external world. After some time, you may even forget you’re listening to music at all.
Best music for productivity
Like the musical taste that varies from person to person, the type of music that will enhance your productivity will also be particular to you. Because of that, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all miraculous playlist for productivity.
According to Deep Work’s author, Cal Newport, the effect of music on productivity is much more related to the ritual of setting up a playlist to work and how those sounds will make us feel. If you get in your best work mood while listening to Black Sabbath, nothing can stop you.
However, some scientific consideration of a few musical genres shows that some types of music are more likely to trigger more people’s productivity mode.
1. Classical music
Classical music is the genre that comes to most people’s minds when discussing listening to music while working.
Many researchers point out that the best types of music for productivity are the ones that don’t have lyrics. Classical music fits it perfectly while also presenting relaxing and stress-relieving properties.
It turns out that listening to Mozart can indeed make you smarter, as classical music can improve students’ exam performance significantly, according to a Fordham University study.
2. Nature sounds
Nature sounds, such as pouring rain or crashing waves, can be even more relaxing than classical music. In fact, its commonly used in meditation sessions and even promote better sleep.
But such sounds can also boost cognitive performance and focus. A study by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows that when natural sounds were used as background music, employees’ presented improved mood and productivity.
3. Ambient music
There is a reason why Lo-Fi ambient music playlists and radios became so popular: it has the perfect tempo to keep listeners relaxed and engaged in their activities.
Ambient music can be a great alternative to classical music and nature sounds, as it brings modern and uplifting beats. It can induce a positive attitude and drown out distracting noises.
4. Cinematic and video game music
A surprising genre that also makes the list of music for productivity is cinematic and video game music. This type of music is made to immerse people into the game or movie experience, creating explosive emotional responses in the listener.
While it may not be for everyone, cinematic music can uplift your spirits and take you to a whole new world with each task. It is worth the try to make work more exciting!
Top apps for productivity
Endel uses AI to collect user data and generate custom soundscapes for each user’s needs. With categories ranging from relaxation to concentration, the sounds created by the app are ethereal and minimalistic, offering an escape indeed.
This app uses the science behind the circadian rhythm to provide gradual stimuli changes in the soundscape as the day progresses. The beats couldn’t be further from popular and traditional music, but, after some adaptation, users can enjoy the benefits of tailored productivity-enhancer sounds.
The opposite of Endel, Mubert uses popular music genres to incite productivity. From techno to hip-hop and house music, this can be the perfect app for those who prefer to listen to upbeat music while working and studying.
Unlike an amateur playlist, Mubert creates customizable continuous waves of music with a random pace and scale. With its psychedelic UI background, those who work in a creative atmosphere may benefit even more from Mubert.
While Akiflow is not a music-related app, it can help you improve your productivity by organizing your calendar and schedule with time blocking. This time management technique splits your day into time slots where you can plan one task at a time.
Akiflow captures tasks from several other productivity and communication platforms, such as email and project management tools, centralizing all your work in one view. With the command bar, you can quickly transform a thought into a task and never miss another good idea again.
Optimize your productivity strategy with music and a great task and time management tool such as Akiflow. Click here to start a free trial now.
Music is present in everyone’s lives. While you may not listen to it every day or only enjoy a particular music genre, it has probably been a great companion to you at some point. But as we’ve learned, it can also be an impressive productivity-booster tool.
Here at Akiflow, we are always looking for creative and effective ways to improve our productivity and make work a more enjoyable experience. Find out other out-of-the-box productivity tips here.