Pump Up the Jams and Work Productivity

Posted December 8, 2021 by Alison Conklin

Alright stop, collaborate and listen, BC is back with a new productivity edition. Before you slip on your noise-cancelling headphones or tell Alexa to turn up the tunes, have you ever thought about what music might be doing for your work productivity?

As it turns out, there are a ton of studies that explore what and how specific types of music can impact your productivity levels. I’m not sure where my Christmas music falls into all of this, but here are some songs to consider adding to your next playlist.

Make it Classy

One of the most studied music genres for productivity is classical music. The “Mozart Effect” states that listening to Mozart for even a brief period of time each day can boost “abstract reasoning and ability”. Now, I don’t blame you if you don’t have Mozart on your top Spotify Wrapped list for the year, but hear me out. 

The study took 36 students from California-Irvine and divided them into three groups: the first group listened to a Mozart selection, the second group listened to a relaxation tape, and the third group sat in silence. After 10 minutes of listening, or not listening (poor group three), to music, all 36 students were issued the same test. The Mozart group averaged an eight-to-nine point increase in their IQs compared to the remaining groups. Another study found that even elementary-school-aged children who participated in music composition education outperformed students in a control group on reading comprehension. 

So maybe it’s worth changing it up to classical music for those deep work sessions. I suggest jumping in with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata; it helped me through many Political Science cram sessions in college.

Video Game Soundtracks

So, there are mixed results when studying the productivity of video game soundtracks, but think about it: playing video games requires a lot of focus. Whether you are working to pass a level, avoiding traps and obstacles or discovering tools to help you succeed, you are in a zone of total focus. 

My skills are pretty rusty when it comes to video gaming, but I can still beat the best in Nintendo 64’s Mario Kart. You can learn more about the strategy and focus behind video game soundtracks here

Pump Up the Jams

Fun Fact: Jasmyne and I went to high school together and played basketball and volleyball on the same team. It was a game day ritual to have a dance off in the locker to pump up the team. Did this actually boost our productivity? I would say so!

A 2020 study found that listening to high-temp music (170-190 bpm) makes exercise feel easier, and ultimately boosted performance. Another study from 2003 found that listening to upbeat music while cycling on a stationary bike boosted participants’ intensity; the faster the music, the faster they pedaled. So could pump up songs in the locker room transfer over to your office? Only one way to find out! (Plugs Christmas music for all to hear)

From White Christmas to White Noise

This is where those noise cancelling headphones come in handy. Whether you are working at home, back in the office with colleagues or setting up in a coffee shop, it can be tricky to be productive with outside noises creeping in. Neutral, non-verbal background sounds like white noise (which is not the same as nature sounds, although that too can be very productive) can help block out distractions.

There are studies with white, pink and brown noises that can help you feel distraction-free during work time. Start out with this playlist from Spotify to get in the zen zone to knock out your work.

Did you enjoy listening to me rant about music? You can learn all kinds of productivity and work tricks on our blog! 

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