Got your headphones?
Grab your headphones or if you’re alone, some background music on the speaker. Today I want to talk to you about music, and more specifically about working to music.
In Canada, 77% of employees who are allowed to listen to music at work say they enjoy working to music. Music at work is quickly becoming a habit, but does it have an impact on our productivity, positive or negative?
Generally speaking, we all listen to music, at home, in the shower, on the bus or in the car. Music often rhymes with relaxation, so is it compatible with productivity at work?
For scientists, the answer is nuanced: it is a question of choice and dosage, but it also depends on personality and habits.
When we are called upon to mobilize our cognitive functions to read, write and communicate with others, music would interfere with the active circuits. Even if we feel we are being productive, we are not concentrating at our best.
Anneli Haake, a music psychology consultant, has developed 5 factors for music to be a source of concentration.
Firstly, the musical structure must be simple, a rhythm and a chill mood so as not to be distracted. In addition, the lyrics are obviously distracting, because they require attention to be understood, so prefer instrumentals or music without words.
These rules vary according to personality, because the more you listen to music while working, the less distracting it is likely to be: habit plays a big role in this case. But also depending on the task, some relatively complex tasks require full attention, where music could be detrimental.
The main factor is the control, if this music is imposed by others, it may strongly disturb us, but if the elements mentioned above are gathered and the music is under our own control, it may help us to concentrate.
Apart from these elements, music from a therapeutic point of view can calm down, slow down the heart rate, lower blood pressure and even reduce stress hormone levels. Also, if you listen to the music you love, it will fill your brain with dopamine.
Personally, I usually work to music whenever possible. Firstly because I listen to it very often, so it doesn’t particularly distract me from my tasks. But also because I find silence oppressive, so music helps me to relax and enjoy the moment. Listening to music while working doesn’t increase concentration, but I think it makes for a less stressed and more enjoyable time, so potentially improves productivity.
So to make a moment of work more pleasant, try a background of “Bob Marley” or “house music” in your ears, you may be surprised!