CRANK UP THE TUNES AND GET TO WORK
Maybe Kanye West’s tune, Stronger, provides that critical push to get you through the last few minutes of spin class, or classic Brahms lets you unwind after a tough day. You might also consider using music at work to increase focus, memory and motivation. “Music activates both the left and right brain at the same time, and the activation of both hemispheres can maximize learning and improve memory,” says Northcentral University Professor Masha Godkin, Ph.D.
Music That Sets the Mood For Productivity
No matter how much you like your job, the day can get long, draining and overwhelming. Music might be one way to regain focus, boost concentration and increase productivity. The trick is to tune in to the right beat.
“Listening to music changes your brain chemistry,” according to neuroscientist, author (and musician), Daniel Levitin, who wrote This is Your Brain on Music
. Fast, stimulating music stimulates the production of adrenaline and other hormones that increase heart rate, pulse and blood pressure. Soothing, relaxing music has the opposite effect.
There are different neurochemical changes associated with different kinds of music, according to Levitin, and the tunes you choose will depend on what you want to accomplish. However, every listener has to decide for herself which tunes are stimulating and which are relaxing. The impact of music is very much in the ear of the beholder.
Focus in and concentrate
When the goal is increased focus, your best bet is anything you enjoy that has a steady, repetitive pulse played loud enough that you can hear it but quiet enough that you could still have a conversation while it’s playing.
For rote tasks, songs with lyrics are usually fine but experts suggest instrumentals for activities that require greater engagement. Some research shows that music with lyrics can actually distract and decrease productivity and performance. Our brains are wired to pick up language and that takes concentration away from the task at hand, especially if the lyrics are unfamiliar or difficult to understand.
Oddly enough, music used in video game soundtracks tends to be a good fit for concentration. That’s probably because it was designed to keep players engaged for hours on end.
Beats that motivate
When it’s more motivation rather than concentration that’s needed choose songs that pump you up with a stronger and more rapid beat, quick tempo and energizing lyrics. One lab study with cyclists found that faster paced music increased the distance covered, pedal cadence and even commitment to the task at hand. The athletes not only pedaled faster with quicker paced music but they consciously chose to exert greater effort.
Experts caution though that motivational music might be best used to set an energetic mood before
starting an intellectually challenging task and to keep energy high during breaks so it doesn’t distract while working.
Music you enjoy can also help reduce stress and anxiety at work and at home. Studies of patients given anti-anxiety drugs or relaxing music pre-surgery had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol when they listened to music than taking the drugs. Music can also be used to help alleviate boredom associated with tedious tasks.
Another interesting twist on using music to boost performance is to create associations between certain songs and productivity. A certain style of music, or even specific songs, played every time you tackle an important piece of work can start to link a state of productivity with that music.
There’s one professional setting where motivating music is guaranteed — the WFF 2020 Leadership Conference
(March 29-April 1 in Dallas). “The music used during general sessions plays a significant role in preparing participants to experience the content and can make or break the mood in the room,” explains David Fisher, President & Creative Director of Twofold Fusion, Inc. that handles production for the annual conference. “Our target is music that is not only uplifting and exciting, but that is consistent with the Conference theme and empowering women.”
Strong female singers are a given at WFF events, as are artists who can trigger a memory, Fisher explains. “We might play something by Beyoncé followed by Stevie Nicks, something modern and then a classic, to evoke different emotional responses.”
Paired with inspiring keynotes, outstanding educational content and extensive networking opportunities, music matched to the mood is one more element that engages Conference participants in breaking through boundaries to embrace limitless opportunities.