You likely fall into one of two categories — either you enjoy listening to music as you work, or you find it distracting. Of course, it isn’t that simple or binary, especially when you account for certain factors like the artist, genre, volume and environment where you’re completing the task.
Only after you’ve looked at the larger picture can you answer the question, “Does music improve my concentration?” It’s situational, and you could find that different types of music — at different volumes and in different environments — affect you in different ways. The context is critical.
In truth, music can and can’t boost your focus, but it depends on what you listen to. So what should you listen to if you want to strengthen your concentration and increase your productivity? We’ll answer that question and others like it here, exploring the power of sound.
How Music Can Enhance Focus
Music and noise are beneficial for specific work tasks under the right circumstances. Some researchers designed an experiment that tested the effect of volume on creativity and found that participants were less creative when brainstorming with low noise and more creative when brainstorming with moderate noise.
Beyond music, white noise is also effective for blocking out distractions and maximizing overall focus. Without lyrics or intense musical beats to pull you away from your work, you can relax while centering your attention on the task in front of you. Still, the subject is slightly more complicated than that.
Whether you’re receptive to music while working may also depend on your personality. One study that involved introvert and extrovert participants found that introverts were more likely to suffer in their performance when introduced to background noise. Extroverts were more successful, but still somewhat hindered.
How Music Can Compromise Focus
Research has shown that background music has a positive effect on mood, athletic ability and productivity for completing tasks, but it has downsides in other areas. It has disruptive consequences on reading, and in many situations, quiet is preferable for maintaining focus on a project.
Environmental noises such as city sounds, conversations and background music often lead to a decrease in performance for most people. Of these distractions, intermittent speech is the worst and, unfortunately, one of the most common sources of noise, whether you’re at the office or in a cafe.
Of course, people who live in areas with noise pollution are familiar with its effects, but it doesn’t make them any less vulnerable. Fortunately, you have options for dealing with these types of problems, and you can benefit from a playlist that drowns out some of the noises compromising your focus.
Playlists for Drowning out Distractions
If you’re unable to concentrate during the day because of some of the problems mentioned above — like intermittent speech — check out the following playlists. They’ll help you distance yourself from distractions and eliminate the noises that keep you from doing your best work. Consider the following soothing selections from Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music.
Explore Your Options Today
Whether you enjoy listening to music or prefer silence as you work, you now have a better understanding of both sides. It’s a complex subject, and depending on your job description, choice of music, environment and personality, the results will differ. Even so, you have no reason not to explore your options, and you should try one of the playlists above to see how it affects your performance.