Is it a good idea to listen to music while working? Here's what the research says

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"Mozart makes you smarter, but then you are often avoided at parties. It's a choice."

2 min read

When the office blues or case of the Mondays hit you hard, music can come to the rescue and give you the much-needed relief on the job. And while this short line may have got a big bright smile, you should hold your Melody horse, and understand when your precious playlist can be a stimulant for your efficiency and creative juices, and when it will only be an utter distraction for your work.


Does your work require complete attention and a need to remember or learn things? Bring the music down!
Learning requires your brain to focus to be able to analyze and remember instructions or facts. When you listen to music while learning new processes or acquiring complex skills, because of multitasking, the brain can interpret the instructions and facts improperly or incompletely. So, if you have to learn something new at work, it's best to turn off your music, especially if you're learning verbally or through reading.

Plug in those earphones when your workplace is a madhouse.
Noisy workplaces can actually spike stress and anxiety levels in individuals, as the brain tries to handle all the individual pieces of data in the noise. All the energy that your brain uses in processing that data, you otherwise could use to focus on your job. Thus noisy workplaces can be a hindrance for productivity, even if doing your required task doesn't require you to learn.

In this case, listening to music can actually help, because it blocks out the other excessive input that could overwhelm you and keeps you calm.

Mat Jacobson, CEO and Founder of DÅ«cere listens to opera while working. He says,  "I love it because it completely soaks up all those errant thoughts that normally distract me, but also has the right momentum and melody to push me along."


Repetitive Job? Let the music play!
According to various studies, people who listened to music while they worked on repetitive tasks performed faster and made fewer errors. This is because music you like triggers the release of feel-good chemicals in your brain such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, which help you feel relaxed and happy and, therefore, you are able to focus better. This is true even when the task you're doing is complex. Surgeons routinely listen to music in the operating room specifically because it relieves the stress that could compromise their focus and performance.

An improved mood from music also affects how you interact with your co-workers. If you feel better, you usually are more respectful, patient, and cooperative, which can lead to better teamwork.

The Last Song
Music can lift your mood and make a huge difference in your workday. Ideally, though, make your playlists out of songs you already know, or focus on lyric-free options. Lastly, if you have something to learn, get your rush of dopamine with music before you get started.


Which song keeps you humming along at work? Share them with us

Nayan Khemani