Music and focus: how music at work helps to concentrate your mind
03 June 2020
Music has the power to change your mood so quickly. Here's how to use it to change your working mindset and get jobs done faster.
You tried those productivity techniques to help increase your focus, but it doesn't seem to be enough. If you've ever watched a medical drama, you will likely recall surgeons listening to music while they operate. It turns out they might be in on a secret, as music can be brilliant for your concentration and focus. Not only can it motivate you and improve your mood, it can also be a great way to avoid distractions. The key to using music for concentration and focus is in choosing the right music for the right task. Here's how.
Match Music to Tasks
Different types of music suit different types of task, so when you're choosing what to listen to while you work, you need to consider how involved the task is you're trying to complete. For example, writing a new essay demands your full attention, whereas clearing out your inbox is relatively routine and the music you choose should reflect this.
For language heavy tasks such as reading or writing, avoid loud or angry music and songs with lyrics, as words can be distracting and make you less efficient. For repetitive tasks, music with lyrics can be great. And for mundane tasks, a little of what you love goes a long way, so turn up your favourite tunes for a boost of motivation. High-speed tracks with a strong beat are brilliant for exercise and the sounds of nature can help calm the mind to sharpen focus.
Music for Different Tasks
This is the music for concentration and focus. In fact, one study showed that students who listened to classical music during a lecture performed significantly better than those who didn't. There are many reasons why this might be. For example, it helps you to relax, lowers stress levels and improves sleep patterns. Here's a great playlist to get you started.
Research suggests that the soothing sounds of nature can improve concentration in the workplace by triggering feelings of positivity. The best music to concentrate are relaxing sounds such as flowing water, rather than jarring sounds such as bird calls or animal noises. Have a listen to this playlist.
Pop, Rock and Rap Music
High-energy music with a strong rhythm is ideal for working out, whether you're running in the park or lifting weights in the gym. This type of upbeat music boosts physical performance, making you feel strong and motivated while also giving you a great beat you can use to time your reps. Here are several playlists that will actually make you want to work-out.
Science shows that listening to music triggers the release of dopamine, which fuels feelings of happiness, at the same time as lowering your cortisol, which is responsible for stress and anxiety. Coupled with this, you're typically better at problem-solving when you're feeling happy. This means that sometimes there's no better music to help concentrate your mind, than the music you love.
The Latest: Binaural Beats
An exciting area of research into music for concentration and focus is binaural beats. These are an auditory illusion, much like an optical illusion, caused when your left ear hears a slightly different tone from your right ear and perceives a beat that's not actually present in the music you're listening to. While the actual effects depend on the listener, studies suggest they can improve your mood, concentration, creativity and memory, while lowering anxiety. Give it a go with this playlist.
You don't need science to know that music can be therapeutic for the mind and soul. Getting the most out of it means carefully matching your tunes to your tasks. When you get it right, music can be your best workmate, helping to focus and clear your mind for the task ahead.
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