Music is one of the most impactful mediums out there.
Nearly everyone is familiar with its ability to bring joy or tears, and send you down memory lane with just a few notes. However, fewer people understand another effect that music can have: improving one’s ability to focus and succeed in a professional setting.
Recently, there has been a great deal of interest in the impact of music on a worker’s mind, even its ability to shape business skills from an early age. In fact, business executives and philanthropists like Robert F. Smith and Tom Chavez have both publicly supported music education due to its impact on children’s future professional skills.
This could be the missing link in your efficiency and output in the office. If you are looking to boost your productivity and focus during your day, consider listening to music. Here are all the ways music can help you.
1. Improves concentration
Studies show that listening to music can vastly improve overall concentration by blocking out distractions like outside noise, talkative coworkers, and even intrusive thoughts.
It does this not just by covering your ears with headphones to block out the commotion, but also by training your brain to pay more attention to small details. If you are focused, you are better equipped to concentrate on the task at hand, finish it more efficiently, and ultimately improve your overall productivity.
2. Releases dopamine
Anytime you experience a “goosebumps” moment or feeling of sincere emotion during a song, you are receiving a dopamine boost from the music.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and excitement. This hormonal response from music mimics the impact of caffeine on your body, helping wake you up and give you a jolt of energy.
The extra energy can help you power through periods of low interest and allow you to finish projects faster.
3. Increases morale
The majority of small business owners believe music boosts employee morale, and this is likely due to two reasons.
First, the ability to listen to music that resonates with emotions like joy and nostalgia helps employees approach work in a good mood and feel more excited about their projects. Second, the freedom to listen to music while working helps employees feel more trusted and valued, which makes them happier.
If you are a worker who is excited about the projects you’re assigned to and the organizations you are a part of, you likely feel more connected to and invested in the success of your work. This ultimately means you are more likely to increase your output overall.
4. Boosts memory
Research shows that music stimulates memory activity in the hippocampus, making it easier to recall information and facts. So, listening to your favorite playlist can also make it easier to remember things, whether they are brainstormed ideas, project guidelines, or relevant data that will help you complete your task.
This added memory can make it easier to shorten the time it takes to complete tasks and boost overall productivity.
5. The science behind it
So, how exactly does music have this many effects on listeners? Quite simply, the way the brain processes music helps begin other reactions that can change the way you think or feel.
Luckily, this field has been extensively researched, so let’s take a look at the neuroscience behind it all by diving deeper into each segment of the brain and the way it is impacted by song.
Frontal lobe: This area of the brain is used for cognitive planning and decision-making. It is what helps differentiate humans from other animals, and music has been proven to enhance its capabilities and performance.
If you are enjoying a particular song, you are more likely to be able to think critically and analytically about different problems.
Broca’s area: This region helps us speak and analyze music. Therefore, playing an instrument, singing, and even simply listening to music can help your communication skills develop, allowing you to work more effectively with others.
Amygdala: Ever felt goosebumps during a particularly moving song? Music can trigger a response from the amygdala, the emotional center of the mind. This means listening to a song that makes you feel confident or excited or thoughtful can have a direct impact on your work and your feeling toward it.
Cerebellum: Your cerebellum helps coordinate your physical movements. It may be surprising, but research conducted on Alzheimer’s patients has shown that connecting music to a particular movement can help you recall that movement when listening to the same music later on. This means music can make it easier for you to perform tasks at work that rely heavily on muscle memory or efficiency.
Nucleus accumbens: This section of the brain controls your pleasure centers. Music can provoke the nucleus accumbens to release dopamine and boost energy and excitement, helping you feel fulfilled in your work or even more confident for interviews or presentations.
Hypothalamus. Certain music can help lower your stress levels; this is due to a response to the song by the hypothalamus, which controls your endocrine system.
This means that when triggered, the hypothalamus can reduce heart rate and blood pressure, bringing your body’s natural stress response down. It can help you stay level-headed and focused during busy times in the office.
Music in action at work
Most customer-focused organizations play some sort of ambient music in their lobby, waiting room, or elevator to use these mental impacts to their advantage.
They want clients to be calm, relaxed, and comfortable before meeting with them, so they’ll play slower, more instrument-focused songs. However, employees should be reaping these benefits as well, if for different outcomes.
While some more traditional organizations don’t allow employees to listen to music, there are more modern offices that encourage their staff to do so.
For example, AMX, a remote control design company, believes it is important that employees are comfortable and have high morale, so they encourage them to listen to music throughout their day. Additionally, modern giants like Google allow employees to listen to music to block out distractions and feel more motivated all day long.
If your organization doesn’t allow headphones, consider asking for soft ambient music to be played throughout the office. Or, put together a survey for employees to discuss what obstacles distract them throughout the day and the specific roadblocks that interrupt their productivity.
Can you connect these through a common thread? Perhaps the office is noisy which distracts them from tasks at hand, or they don’t feel excited about their work.
Listening to music could help assuage these negative experiences. Create a presentation for your HR team covering your findings alongside the benefits of music to prove the potential impact on the company’s bottom line.
How to choose the right tunes
The truth is, there is no “one size fits all” music genre or song that will be the perfect productivity boost for every worker.
Although researchers used to believe that classical music had the biggest impact on the brain, after more studies, this turned out to not be true. In fact, research shows that the best type of music to listen to while working is the music that you enjoy the most.
However, there is one important point that science agrees on; you should avoid listening to lyric-heavy songs if possible. The voice and words can distract you from your work and negatively impact your performance. Instead, focus on instrumental music that you enjoy to quiet your outside thoughts and increase your concentration.
For your reference, we are sharing some of our favorite working playlists. For those who like upbeat tunes, check this one out. Or, if you like more mellow music, try this playlist. Lastly, if you like the classical genre, listen to this one.
Poke around until you determine which style best suits your work style for the best productivity!
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.