Music: it can make you feel good, it can get stuck in your head, it can make you want to dance. But is it good or is it bad for productivity?
Apparently it can be good, if you choose wisely.
Researchers claim that background music can make you work faster, help you focus, and increase your productivity. In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that many surgeons performed with greater speed and accuracy when listening to music they liked. And that’s the key–for music to make you more productive, you’ve got to be choosy: not just any music will do.
Here are four ways that you can use music to increase productivity in your workplace.
1. Choose music that you most enjoy.
A 2005 study by researchers at the University of Windsor showed that one of the main reasons that music improves productivity is because it put people in a more positive mood and mindset. Basically, it made people feel happier, and because they felt happier, they worked more effectively. So, if you want to take advantage of music’s property to elevate your mood, be sure to pick music that you actually enjoy hearing. While music can make you feel good, listening to the wrong kind of music--music that you hate, or music you find irritating – could have the opposite effect.
2. Use Music to Make Repetitive Tasks Go Faster.
As music critic Ted Gioia writes, there’s a long and storied history of workers using music to pass the time when they’re doing repetitive tasks. Sea shanties, for instance, were songs sung by men doing the repetitive job of rowing a ship or pulling up fish nets. Work songs have been sung by laborers hammering railroad ties or working in mines. Music can help you develop a rhythm while you work, and can help you get through repetitive tasks faster. Got a pile of forms to file? Expense reports to fill out? Data to enter? Turn on some music and add some rhythm to that work.
3. Use Sound Masking to Make Your Office More Productive.
Sound masking doesn’t usually involve music, per se, but it is about creating the optimal sonic environment to enhance productivity. As more and more businesses move toward open-concept office plans, it means that more and more noise is audible in people’s workspaces--and that can be distracting. Sound masking involves using ambient sound or white noise to cover up the din. Recent research published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America has shown that using sounds from the natural world, like rushing streams, can be just as effective as electronic sounds--if not more so--at masking noise and creating a productive environment.