The Science Behind How Music Affects Productivity

The Science Behind How Music Affects Productivity

February 20, 2018

You love listening to music while you work, clean the house, cook dinner or drive around in your car. Did you realize those tunes actually have the power to make you more productive?
Despite some naysayers, science has shown that music does affect the brain and in a positive way. So, the next time your employer tells you to shut off the music, you’ll have proof that it’s good for the bottom line.
Now, you have more reason than ever to put together a favorite playlist, especially when you need to tackle difficult or boring tasks.

Dealing With Repetition
Repetitive tasks get boring after a while, such as data entry in a spreadsheet. However, studies as far back as the 1970s have shown that background music helps boost efficiency during repetitive tasks. Whether it’s going through mountains of emails or speeding up production on an assembly line, music has the power to make those tasks go a bit faster.

Faster And More Creative
In one study among computer information systems developers, music was found to make the developers far more productive. In fact, they achieved their tasks quicker than the group who worked in a quiet environment.
An even more interesting find was the music helped to boost the employees’ moods, which led to them being more creative and focused.

Music Makes People Happier
You probably already realized this one, but the right kind of music makes you happier. Now, consider how this would affect your productivity. You might hate cleaning the house, so you put it off. If you’re listening to music and feeling good, this task might not seem so bad after all. In fact, you might power through it and actually have fun along the way.
Music causes the brain to release the feel good chemical dopamine. Naturally, this depends on the type of music you listen to. Listening to a sad breakup song right after getting your heart broken isn’t going to make you feel happier or more productive. Psychology Today even says that our brains are wired from day one to process music. This should tell you how important it is to your daily life, including productivity.

Listening To The Right Music
Don’t get to excited just yet. You probably shouldn’t start blasting the latest hits on your favorite top 40 station. To get the most benefits from music, you need to listen to the right type of music.
First of all, listening to music on its own is considered a task. After all, your brain is processing the lyrics and various instruments. This is especially true when you have to fight the urge to start singing along.
Dr. Anneli B. Haake took on a study that stated that listening to music was part of a growing multi-tasking problem that hindered productivity. Haake performed other studies to see whether music was distracting or not and found that the type of music made a difference. According to Haake’s studies, a few things to consider include:

  • Lyrics
  • Complexity of music
  • Noise level, especially if it makes workplace conversations and interactions difficult
  • Task complexity
  • Whether the listener likes the type of music

  • This isn’t the only things to keep in mind when picking the right music to boost productivity. You should also make sure the music you pick fits the following criteria:

  • Boosts your mood – No sad or dark music
  • Choose songs in major mode versus minor
  • Consider instrumental over lyrics, especially when working with others
  • Keep music in the background versus the forefront to avoid distractions
  • Pick music you actually like as you’ll focus more on tasks than your dislike of the music
  • Choose songs that fit the tempo of your tasks
  • It might sound overly complicated, but you know what types of music work best for you. Just remember if you’re working around others, ensure your music isn’t distracting to them. After all, they might want to listen to their own tunes to boost productivity.

    About Author

    Marketing team in the WPS office located in Mountain View.