Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, charm and gaiety to life and to everything. – Plato
We use music in our everyday lives for many purposes, from relaxing at home to dancing with friends. It sets the mood for whatever activity we do and changes our environment, depending on the type of music we play.
Just about everyone I know listens to music, simply because there’s something out there for everyone. You see people listening to music when they’re taking the train to work, when there’s an event going on, or when someone plays music on the street corner for everyone to enjoy.
Music can be playful, powerful, or heart-breaking. Can music make you more productive?
To answer this, let’s take a look at what research has shown so far.
How Music Affects Our Work
Teresa Lesiuk works as an assistant professor at the University of Miami in the music therapy program. Part of her role involves researching the effect of listening to music on work performance. According to her research, people who listen to music generally finish their tasks faster and are better at generating good ideas than people who don’t listen to music.
But that isn’t the full story.
Other studies show that pop music interferes with processing information and reading comprehension. Lyrics, for instance, can be distracting because they force you to listen to the words and interrupt your line of thought.
Overall, though, music can help you become more productive, depending on the type of music you listen to. Here are 5 types of music that will boost your motivation and productivity levels.
1. Classical Music
Think Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel, amongst a number of other classical composers. Classical music isn’t just good for relaxing with a glass of red wine after work. A study involving radiologists working showed that after listening to baroque music, seven out of eight found that their mood levels increased and they were better able to concentrate on their work.
2. Nature Music
Imagine hiking through a peaceful lush forest by a streaming river, or walking along sandy beaches as gentle waves roll in. Nature music is just that – the sounds of the wilderness, with no one to disturb you. People have reported that nature music not only calms the nerves, but listening to it during work can improve cognitive thinking.
Take note, though. While soothing sounds such as flowing water, rainfall, and rustling leaves work well, jarring noises such as birdcalls and animal noises can be distracting. If you want to try a spin on conventional nature music, try listening to nature music accompanied by instrumentals, such as the piano or flute.
3. Epic Music
Listening to epic music is one of my favorite ways of motivating myself while working. It can lift you up and empower your thoughts, while making you feel like you’re doing something important to change the world (even if you’re not). There’s a reason why movie trailers play epic music so often in the background.
So if you’re sitting at your desk and feel uninspired, why not give epic music a shot? It could be the thing you need for that motivational boost.
4. Video Game Music
Regardless of whether or not you play video games, this one may come as a surprise initially. However, video game music is great for working because the compositions are created specifically to help you concentrate on tasks. After all, building that tower or defending your character from attacks requires music that improves your ability to do so, doesn’t it?
And if it’s been awhile since you played video games, if at all, don’t be fooled by the term “video game music”. Many of the repertoires are complex in nature and performed by orchestras. If you don’t have any on your list, try listening to the Bastion soundtrack.
5. Ambient soundtracks
Ambient music is defined as a type of music that places emphasis tone and atmosphere over traditional musical structure. Brian Eno, one of the pioneers of ambient music says: “Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.”
If you’re interested, try listening to his Music for Airports, which was designed to keep people waiting to board an aircraft feeling calm and relaxed. Likewise, it’s just as suitable for those stressful moments when you’re in the office.
See What Works For You
Experiment and try listening to different types of music. One of them may work when you need to boost your energy levels, while another can be better for those times when you just need to cancel out your noisy coworkers.
No matter what your music choices are, getting the most out of work is about designing your surroundings carefully, so that they help you work towards your goal. Choosing to do less can help you achieve more in the end.
Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com
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