On or off?

If anyone out there is like me, listening to music while doing mundane tasks can make everything much more tolerable. Whether it be cooking, cleaning, or doing yardwork, listening to a playlist of my favorite songs can even makes chores seem fun (especially if no one is around and I can sing).

So naturally, extensive research has been done to debate whether or not music in the workplace would increase productivity and help with staff motivation. Companies who have traditionally created playlists for restaurants and hotels are now branching out into supplying offices with background music. Their focus is on providing the “right” music which factors in demographics and times of day. When you are concentrating you will want calmer, more relaxing music and at the end of the day you may want something more upbeat. And certainly, type of workplace is a major factor…an ad agency is going to want much different music than a financial institution.

Historically, music and work have always been intertwined. Think about workers in the field or sailors on a ship. Music makes people happy and makes us feel good, so logic would lead you to believe that it must have some sort of positive impact on our work.

And let’s not forget about the “Mozart effect”, the idea that simply by listening to a piano sonata devised by a genius can make you one too. What mother hasn’t played Mozart through headphones attached to her pregnant belly in the hopes of creating her own little genius?!

But, then comes the debate. Perhaps it doesn’t improve our intellectual stimulation at all…it just seems to. And to make matters worse, listening to music may actually make you less productive. The fact may be that you are having so much more fun that you may “feel” productive. Research has shown, that performance on intellectual tasks, such as reading, writing or problem solving, may suffer considerably when listening to music.

Bottom line…a person’s response to music changes based on many factors, such as the type of job, the genre of music, their control over the music and even on their personality. It is safe to say that music can be a mood booster and relax you which may make it easier to focus. Unfortunately, it also takes up some of your attentional capacity which may distract you from the task at hand.

For me, the research appears quite logical…I will continue to turn up the volume on my AirPods when doing mindless tasks, but now as I write…complete silence.

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