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During World War II, the BBC broadcasted upbeat music in factories twice a day to see if it might step up the pace of work and get the military what they needed. It worked. One report stated that the output at a factory increased by 12,5-15%.
Since then, music has started to play an important role in productivity.
There are two possible ways music might be beneficial while working:
Some famous composers' work has better cognitive benefits than others. Studies show that Mozart's sonata increased "alpha band" brain waves, which is linked to memory, cognition, and problem-solving.
The "activation theory" is the idea is that people need a certain amount of mental arousal to function effectively.
One 1995 study found that when workers at a large retail organization were allowed to listen to personal stereos for one month, regardless of their choice of music, their performance improved significantly. The reason for improvements in productivity was how relaxed they felt.
Some scientists think that music doesn't help us at all. It's possible that we view the ability to listen to music as a privilege from our employers, and convincing ourselves that we are working harder in turn.
In some contexts, music is actively detrimental, such as problem-solving, while listening to more cognitively demanding music, like jazz. One study found students performed worse in reading-comprehension and maths scores when they did them to music.
One meta-analysis concluded that background music disturbs the reading process and has a small harmful effect on memory, but has a positive impact on emotional reactions and improves achievements in sports.
Music might be beneficial in the workplace, depending on the type of work, the genre of music, your control over the music, and your personality.
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Listening to classical music can help people perform tasks more efficiently.
The absence of words in the music may be one factor, as songs that contain lyrics have been found to ...
This theory suggests that listening to classical composers can enhance brain activity and act as a catalyst for improving health and well-being.
Listening to the sounds of nature (waves crashing or a babbling brook) has been shown to boost moods and focus. They also help mask harsher, more distracting noises, such as people talking or typing
Nature sounds work best when they’re soothing sounds (flowing water or rainfall, while more jarring noises (bird calls and animal noises) can be distracting.
It’s best to listen to music you are familiar with if you need intense focus for a project.
New music is surprising; since you don’t know what to expect, you are inclined to listen closely to see what comes next.
For activities that don’t require concentration, music with lyrics has some benefits. But with immersive tasks, lyrics are especially destructive to our focus.
Trying to engage in language-related tasks ( e.g. writing ) while listening to lyrics would be akin to holding a conversation while another person talks over you… while also strumming a guitar.
When a task is clearly defined and repetitive in nature, music makes it more enjoyable.
It isn’t the music itself, but rather the improved mood your favorite music brings that will give a boost in productivity.
Moderate noise level can get creative juices flowing, but the line is easily crossed; loud noises made it incredibly difficult to concentrate.
Bellowing basses and screeching synths will do you more harm than good when engaging in deep work.