Does Listening to Music Make You More Productive?


Courtesy of Mathew J Maniyamkott... 

Putting up with mundane tasks is all part of working your day job. So, on those occasions that you have to sit staring at an Excel sheet filled with data, take refuge in your music playlist... 

A lot of us are guilty of listening to music while at work, and we would all agree that music is a good antidote to get us through the daily grind. With almost all work being done on a desktop or laptop these days, music has organically found its way into the workplace.

When you listen to music, your brain releases a chemical called dopamine, which is also referred to as the pleasure chemical. Given that we all plead guilty to it, let’s find out if listening to music at work makes us more productive or less.



Repetitive tasks made easier - with music
The effect of music on a listener’s productivity at the workplace depends on the level of involvement that the task he/she is engaged in needs. Copy pasting random nuggets of data from the internet is different from preparing a pitch deck for your startup. Obviously, the latter deserves more attention.

Research suggests that when a task is clear and repetitive in nature, music is extremely helpful. In fact, assembly line workers displayed signs of increased happiness and efficiency while listening to music. Many studies say that it is not just the pleasant distraction that the music brings to work that counts, it is also the familiarity that comes with your favorite music that boosts productivity.



Press pause when you learn something new
If there is a task at hand that requires a lot of focus, into which you need to put the full power of your brain, and there is complicated information to ingest or review, it is advisable to put your music to rest. Your ability to learn new things or to effectively organize information that is intellectually demanding decreases when you are listening to music.

Music works when you are an expert
If you are an expert at something, even a task as complicated as surgery can be completed while listening to music, says a study. Published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, this study concluded that surgeons worked more accurately when their favorite music was played in the background.

When you are really good at something that you do repeatedly as part of your work, listening to music will not only boost your performance it can often make it error-free.



Listen to music if your workplace is noisy
A noisy workplace is a mood and productivity dampener. Open offices are not a new thing, but with the mushrooming of a lot of startups, the trend just got bigger. Yes, open offices encourage collaboration, but the rising noise levels may turn out to be distracting for at least a few employees. These people can improve their productivity by listening to music that soothes the soul and ears. Headphones can be a big plus in these environments.

Do not listen to NEW music while in work-mode
When you listen to new music, your body still releases dopamine, but it also brings in an element of surprise, causing you to feel increased pleasure. Now, the music becomes more appealing to your brain than the task at hand.This will lead to a loss of focus.

This will lead to making compromises on your work. So have a ready playlist with a set of your favorite songs before you sit down to work. If you know the song, and you can hum-along, you're participating in the songs with past experience. It's like your mind is on auto-pilot with the music, and you can maintain optimum focus upon your tasks.




The next time you see your co-worker or your employee pounding on the keyboard with their headphones on, there's no need to secretly wonder if any work is getting done. They are working for the greater good... as long as they're not listening to new music!

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