Freelancing can get awfully quiet sometimes. Listening to your music while working can be a great stress release and a concentration booster. But could you be unwittingly slowing your own productivity by listening to the wrong stuff?
Of course, music is all a matter of preference, but studies have shown that certain genres are better than others at stimulating your brain for working.
So what should you be listening to while you work? Here are a few tips on making your music and your productivity play nice.
Choose the music you love for repetitive tasks
When it comes to boring, straightforward tasks (like answering emails or sorting accounts), listen to the music that makes you feel good. This triggers the release of dopamine, the chemical associated with the human body’s reward system (designed to reinforce successful behaviour patterns by giving you a good feeling when you carry them out).
The dopamine raises your mood, allowing you to better engage with the more tedious tasks on your list. If you’re using Spotify, you might want to start a radio channel based on one of your favourite artists – more dopamine is released when you hear a new song you like versus an old song you’ve heard many times before.
Choose ambient music for creative work
For tasks that require more creative input, choose simple, non-intrusive tracks. Ambient music has been shown to be beneficial for working creatively, putting you in a relaxed mood while also providing a subtle level of stimulation for your brain.
Choose classical for great productivity
Slower Baroque-period classical pieces have been shown to create the same combo de-stressing/stimulating effect as ambient music, helping you stay upbeat and get more done in the day. Studies suggest that classical music may also help for improving your spelling and mathematical accuracy.
If you want to concentrate while you’re working, it’s best to queue up some instrumental tracks. Just as you’d find it distracting to work with someone talking words at you, listening to music with vocals will draw your attention away from work as each lyric registers in the back of your brain.
With purely instrumental tracks, there’s no meaning for your brain to get hung up on and you’ll be less distracted from work as a result.
Set up your music before work
With the huge choice of music that comes with MP3 players and streaming services, selecting the tracks you want to listen to can become a major distraction.
There’s always the temptation to skip through tracks, or be spontaneous and select a song you haven’t heard in a while, and suddenly you’re flipping back and forth between your music and your work every couple of minutes.
Instead, prepare a playlist before work, or go old school and stick a pile of albums next to your CD player. Listen to each and every track, without skipping! If you fancy a change, load up some different music in your lunch break.
Ultimately, the music you listen to (and how you listen to it) is up to you, but it has to work for you!