Published: Oct 30, 2020
Each of us has our own way of getting things done and getting through the workday. For many, listening to music is a great way to stay motivated and become more productive.
Listening to music at work should be done responsibly, however. There may be tasks that require your full attention, so you need to be ready to assess whether music would really help you focus or just be a source of distraction.
When done properly, music listening at work can certainly help boost productivity. Here are some tips you can follow to make sure you do the right thing and reap the benefits.
Do: Keep your music to yourself
Invest in a good pair of headphones or earbuds (earbuds may be better - we’ll show you why later) that allow you to listen to your music without you having to turn your volume all the way up. Personal listening devices are also a must if you work in a shared office space so that you don’t disrupt others in their work (and keep them from being productive). Keep in mind to listen to your music at a lower volume so that you can still hear if someone calls you and be aware of what’s happening around you.
Don’t: Listen to music with distracting lyrics
If you need to focus on a particular task, it’s best to stay away from songs that have distracting lyrics (or any lyrics at all). If you don’t feel comfortable with those kinds of music, you may listen to music with lyrics as long as these are songs you are already very familiar with. Familiar music allows you to pay less attention to it (because you already know what lies ahead) so that you’ll be able to focus entirely on what you’re doing.
Do: Listen to music you enjoy
Listening to music that you like releases the hormone dopamine, the main brain chemical that is responsible for making you feel motivated, attentive, and focused. To use music to your advantage, you need to explore and discover what kind of music resonates with you on an emotional level and listen to it before tackling an important task.
Don’t: Compromise workplace safety
If you work in a setting that requires you to listen and pay attention to your surroundings (like a warehouse or a bank), it would be wise to ditch music listening entirely. Keep workplace safety a priority - you can always get your music fix before you start working and during work breaks. Don’t worry, the cognitive effects of the dopamine stays with you even when you don’t currently have music in your ears.
Do: Consider an earbud policy
Here’s why we recommend using earbuds at work instead of headphones, particularly if your job involves interacting with coworkers in person. With the greater acceptance of music listening in the workplace, some companies have instituted earbud policies or earbud codes to indicate a listener’s level of focus and availability. An earbud policy is definitely worthy of consideration.
Here’s how it works. If you do not want to be disturbed (like when there’s a really demanding task in front of you), wear both earbuds. If only one earbud is in your ear, it tells your colleagues to “please ask before you interrupt.” Not wearing earbuds, of course, means you may be interrupted.
An earbud policy is a good way to encourage music listening at work while still maintaining good relations among colleagues. This contributes to a positive working environment that can lead to a boost in overall productivity.
Do you prefer to work in silence or while listening to music? If the latter, you're probably more productive and happier than your non-music-listening colleagues, since listening to music while working is believed to reduce stress, improve memory, and boost motivation.
Whenever I have a hard time focusing on a repetitive work task such as inputting data into an Excel sheet, I find that when I listen to music, particularly upbeat music I know well, I’m able to focus more intently on my work and complete it without too much complaint. It would follow, then, that the music is making me more productive.
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