Music has been an essential facet of human expression and understanding since we first learned to speak. Looking back through history, almost every civilization has its own songs and sounds. It stirs up something deep within the soul, something at the core of our humanity.
Maybe we’re waxing poetic a bit too much, but you have to admit that there’s a grain of truth to what we’re saying here. Music can stir up emotions, memories, and emotions like virtually nothing else. The right song can make us laugh, cry, rage, and anything in between.
As noted by Chad Grills, CEO of business and tech podcast network The Mission, studies on the impact of music on our brains date back to the 1950s. Inevitably, they have all come to the same conclusion – that music has a powerful therapeutic effect on the mind. It can help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. It can help elderly patients struggling with confusion and dementia.
And it can help you cut out distractions and focus on your work more effectively. But there are some stipulations to that. First, it has to be music you enjoy – music that makes you feel more capable, energized, and focused.
Second, not everyone reacts to song in the same way. On the contrary, the effect of the same song will likely be very different from person to person. One person might find that the song helps them work, while another might be distracted, frustrated, and stressed out.
“For many, music can help someone focus, get more done and feel motivated,” added mental health expert Will Tottle. “However, there are some people who find music very distracting, and their focus drops drastically when listening to music and trying to complete a task.”
Now that we’ve driven home the connection between music and productivity, let’s talk about how you can put that into action. How can you find music that helps you relax and focus? According to Tottle, there are a few genres you should start with.
Tottle favors both classical and ambient music, primarily because there are no lyrics and a much lower potential for distraction; he also believes funk music, video game soundtracks, and movie soundtracks can help boost productivity. Those are all excellent genres, of course – but we believe his list isn’t quite complete. Acoustic songs can be excellent mood boosters, while instrumental electronica and jazz are also good options.
It’s also worth noting that not everyone finds lyrics distracting. Particularly if you’re listening to a song you’ve heard hundreds of times, the words tend to fade into the background with everything else. Plus, for repetitive tasks, there’s evidence that lyrics actually help with focus.
At the end of the day, music isn’t a holy grail that’s guaranteed to make you better at your job. But if you find the right songs and sounds to accompany your workday? It certainly cannot hurt.
Just make sure you bring a pair of headphones. After all, not everyone enjoys your music the same way you do.