We definitely know that focusing leads to better work. But do we really need to block out all noise in order to focus? Couldn’t we just have a bit of background music?
Ironically, there are many indicators pointing to the fact that music might not be such a bad distraction after all.
1) Music can block out distractions
Music can help to drown out other (more distracting) background noises. Music has also been found to engage the area of the brain involved with paying attention. This might help us to focus on the present task and avoid drifting off to other topics.
2) Music may boost our concentration and productivity
Classical music has been cited as a great way to increase concentration and productivity. Some researchers claim that music helps us to organize incoming information. Other researchers cite that music with constant beats help us to march along in a productive fashion. Slow classical music (whose timing is about that of a human heart at rest) is supposed to help one concentrate best of all. Regardless, music without words tends to be recommended.
3) Music may boost our learning
Researcher’s coined the “Mozart Effect” to describe the short-term enhancement of spatial-temporal skills (like those crucial in math and chess) after listening to Mozart’s compositions (which are very sequential). Does this translate into better problem solving skills in the workplace? This appears to be an untested question, but certainly an interesting theory.
Other researchers caution that this so-called “Mozart Effect” is minimal (or non-existent), however, so we should not expect to turn into geniuses by simply tuning into the classics. It is worth noting that Albert Einstein allegedly credited much of his intelligence to having learned to play the violin.
4) Music can inspire creativity
Some proponents argue that music (especially upbeat tunes) helps to clear mental blocks and boost creativity. One author suggested that music occupies the part of our mind that hinders our creative abilities. “Like a soothing lullaby, music puts the worrisome unfocused part of the mind to sleep so the productive side can get to work.” Regardless, music can help to spice up a task.
5) Music helps to improve our mood
It is hard to be truly productive if we are not in a good mood. Music has been shown to improve our mood, resulting in higher levels of dopamine – the ultimate feel-good neurotransmitter. Music has also been found to reduce stress hormone levels by as much as 41%. This alone could help lead to more flow and natural decisions in our day.
Summing it all up: does music help?
As with so many things, the questions still outweigh the answers. And some studies find no positive impact of music on our ability to focus.
Does music help you to focus? This may be a question that only you can answer. If the answer is yes, then by all means tune in.
Ironically, Ann Gomez sat in a coffee shop, humming along to music, while writing this blog.