Luckily, music can help put us back on a more productive track.
Studies out of the University of Birmingham, England, show that music is effective in raising efficiency in repetitive work — so if you're mindlessly checking email or filling out a spreadsheet, adding some tunes will make your task go by that much faster.
But when it comes to tasks that require more brainpower, finding that perfect playlist is not so easy.
Luckily, we have science at our disposal to help.
Based on some of what we know about how music affects productivity, you should try funneling this kind of music through your headphones the next time you're feeling unproductive:
Songs that include sounds of nature.
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently discovered that adding a natural element could boost moods and focus.
Sounds of nature can mask intelligible speech just as well as white noise while also enhancing cognitive functioning, optimizing the ability to concentrate, and increasing overall worker satisfaction, the researchers found. The mountain stream sound researchers used in their study also possessed enough randomness that it didn't distract test subjects.
You could try simply listeining to recordings of nature sounds, or check out this tranquil background music that incorporates sounds of water:
Songs you enjoy.
Listening to music you like can make you feel better.
Teresa Lesiuk, an assistant professor in the music therapy program at the University of Miami, found that personal choice in music is important, especially in those who are moderately skilled at their jobs. Generally participants in her studies who listened to music they enjoyed completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn't because the music improved their mood.
"When you're stressed, you might make a decision more hastily; you have a very narrow focus of attention," she told the New York Times. "When you're in a positive mood, you're able to take in more options."
Songs you don't really care about.
Different research suggests, however, that music you're ambivalent about could be best.
Researchers from Fu Jen Catholic University in Xinzhuang City, Taiwan, studied how listener's fondness for music affected their concentration. They found when workers strongly liked or disliked the music they heard in the background they became more distracted by it.
Songs without lyrics.
Words are distracting.
According to research from Cambridge Sound Management, noise in general isn't to blame when it comes to lost productivity — it's how intelligible the words are that forces us to shift focus from our work to figuring out what someone is saying. Speech distracts about 48% of office workers according to Cambridge's 2008 study.
When masking your neighbor's conversation with music, it follows then that you not do so with music that has lyrics — your focus would simply shift from the conversation to the words in a song.
This playlist of lyric-less music may provide the productivity boost you need:
Songs with a specific tempo.
Music tempo can have varying affects on your arousal.
One study by Canadian researchers found subjects performed better on IQ tests while listening to up-tempo music. If your work requires you to be more upbeat, you could try listening to music that matches this tempo. Baroque music, for example, is a popular choice for many needing to get work done.
In fact in a small study by researchers at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, Harbor Hospital in Baltimore, and the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia, the radiologists they studied reported an improvement in their work and mood when they listened to baroque music. This playlist offers a nice sampling:
Another study by researchers from BMS College of Engineering in Bangalore, Malaysia, saw subjects report a dramatic reduction in feelings of stress and an increased sense of physical relaxation when they listened to music that played around 60 beats per minute. In classical music terms, you would refer this as "larghetto," which translates to not very fast or somewhat slowly.
If you prefer to feel more relaxed while you work, you could try one of Focus @ Will's playlists dedicated to concentration:
Songs played at medium volume.
Noise level matters.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, found that moderate noise levels are just right for creative thinking.
While both high and moderate noise levels have been found to open people's minds to more abstract thinking, high noise levels decrease the brain's ability to process information.
How to Select Music for Studying : 10 Tips
It is said that to study it’s necessary to have a quiet environment without distractions. However, for some, studying in a quiet environment can backfire. This ‘quiet environment’ can make you end up fighting boredom and succumbing to the allure of sleeping at your desk! This is why the importance of choosing the right music for studying can’t be underestimated.
Although some studies say that listening to music while you study isn’t good, for many people it’s vital. It’s calms them down, which can lead to productive studying. Music can also help elevate your mood and motivate you to study longer.
The real challenge is to select the right music for studying. The wrong type of study music may end up distracting you from your study. So today we are going to offer some tips and ideas on how to pick the best study music for you!
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10 Tips: How to Choose Your Music for Studying
Tip # 1
Classical music is peaceful and harmonious making it one of the best options to listen to when studying.
Tip # 2
It seems that there is evidence that Mozart improves mental performance. They call it the “Mozart Effect.”
Tip # 3
Listen to ambient instrumental music. This type of music is more modern than classical and has a similar effect. I always find that movie soundtracks are quite good.
Tip # 4
Listen to sounds of nature such as rain, waves, jungles or animals while studying. While this is not exactly music it is relaxing and you will feel like you’re in another world.
Tip # 5
You’re studying, not crashing a rave! Listen to your study music at a moderate volume. The lower the better. The louder it is, the more it will distract you. Your main purpose is to study so keep your music in the background. When you’re finished studying then you can crank it up to 11!
Tip # 6
Create a playlist with all your favourite songs in advance to avoid having to search for new songs every 5 minutes. This will save you time, allow you to plan how long your study session will be and help your level of concentration while you study.
Tip # 7
Do not listen to music on the radio when studying. The dialogue of the presenters and ads will distract you. You should have complete control of your best study music.
Tip # 8
Make playlists that last for 40 to 50 minutes. When the playlist ends, this will act as a reminder to take a short break from studying.
Tip # 9
Listen to music before you go to bed or before an exam. This will make you feel relaxed and put you in the right state of mind.
Tip # 10
While choosing the best music to study while studying is important, you should avoid spending hours selecting the songs. At the end of the day, what matters is not choosing the best music in the world but that your study is productive
I hope these study tips are useful. You will know if you’ve made the right music choices if the music fades into the background and your study takes center stage. As soon as the music starts to cloud your study you need to change you study music choices… or just do a quick dance to get it out of your system!
Follow these tips and your choice of study music will improve.
And remember, use these tips while you study with GoConqr will bring you one step closer to achieving exam success. So log in or sign up for free now.
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