The page is blank, and so, it seems, is your brain. The deadline is looming, and you need something, anything, to help you boost your productivity. Music, is it a yay or a nay for helping you work better?
Some say that music is a great way of helping us enjoy repetitive tasks. For example, if you are working on an assembly line, doing the same thing, hour after hour, it has been proven that the presence of music would make you feel happier and therefore more productive. That said if the job required more brain power, would music help?
If you are part of a big team, in a noisy office, you will know that sound is inescapable, and you may find yourself easily distracted by your colleague’s conversations. In that instance, having a pair of headphones in may help you focus. Again, the research shows that your overall mood is improved and that helps to increase productivity and focus. It seems that your mood, caused by music in this example, is the real culprit.
For creative work, music may be useful, but it should be more of a background ambient noise, than a full-on party session. If you are singing along to your favorite album, bass pounding, you are probably not able to concentrate all that much. Writing, while rapping, isn’t ideal and chances are you will muddle your words in a way that could get you in big trouble!
Lyrics are fine for repetitive, physical tasks or those that require low-immersion, but anything word-based is not ideal, in the same way, that have a conversation, while writing simultaneously is not as productive as one would have hoped.
In terms of creative, but not word-based, tasks there is research to suggest that lyrics are not an issue – perhaps this depends on the person, the task and the music.
Furthermore, the best music to listen to, for focusing, is anything you are very familiar with. This allows you to concentrate less on the music and more on the task at hand, while still enjoying the benefits and mood-boosting properties of music.
There doesn’t seem to be a fail-safe genre of music that works better than others, it is all down to personal choice, and focusing on ambiance and what will be best for the type of task you are doing, rather than you favorite artist or a brand new album.
If you are a little lost as to what to choose, why not check out Spotify or Youtube for specifically curated playlists of songs for working/writing/programming. Give a few different ones a try (and maybe even silence and white noise too) being aware of how much work you produce and the quality, and hopefully, this will help you narrow down what works best for you. Happy working!