Where are My Earphones? — The Music and Productivity Equation


Music is definitely part of human life. Somehow, music gives us movement without making us leave our seats. It gives us motivation, advice and, most of all, solace when we most need it. We often view music as something that enhances our daily lives. We see it as a sort of escape from people.

Pop those earphones on and shazam! Instant isolation.

However, only a few people view music as more of an inspiration rather than a distraction. Some view music as something that increases their productivity and makes them work harder and better.

You may be listening to the slow strums of Ottis Redding, maybe even threading the waves with Nada Surf but one thing is for sure: subtly, your music pushes you to move, which leads one to think about the correlation of music and productivity.

Music and Your Workplace


UK-based licensing organizations PPL and PRS released results of a study saying 71.2 per cent of business entities which played music in their workplace increased staff morale and performance.

The research was used in order to gather market data and included small to medium enterprises in various industries.

It’s just correct to think that if you get motivated and pushed to sweat your ass of in aerobics, you will surely be motivated by music to do your job as well.

Surprisingly, though, Songza, a music service company, did another research in the US, asking which particular songs made the office staff productive. Half of the respondents said that they got into working when they heard Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger. Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know followed in a preference of 42 per cent.

However, in yet another study conducted in Taiwan, it was found out that while background music increased the productivity of the staff, music with lyrics often had negative effects. The researchers suggested that music without lyrics is preferable.

Why Does Music Affect Your Productivity?


Have you ever wondered why music affects you so much? How does it basically controls your emotions? Well, apparently, it all traces back to one word: arousal.

Yes, you get aroused when you listen to music because a region of your brains called the nucleus accumbens triggers the release of dopamine, otherwise known as the pleasure chemical.

Dopamine is the same chemical that’s released when we eat cheeseburgers, get a follower on Twitter and, most of all, when we have sex.

It really is safe to say that music can give you actual eargasms.

This may be why we get more productive when we listen to music. Basically, music makes us feel good, physically, emotionally and mentally. It makes us relaxed and thus affecting our productivity.

What Genre of Music Is Suited to Boost Your Productivity?


Now, while there were contradicting statements in the field of research about what particular music genre really boosts productivity, there is a sound argument (pun intended) that says classical music is the best genre to listen to.

This involves the Mozart Effect, which says that listening to classical music such as the works of Amadeus Wolfgang Mozart’s directly correlates with a person’s ability to think long-term and create solutions to problems.

Workplace Experts Have Some Say on This.


In a University of Illinois study, researchers discovered the music increases output by 6.3%, notwithstanding any work or job. This is contradicted by another study which involves 56 employees working on basic computer tasks being more productive without music.

To answer the question about the genre, it would be safe to say that “It depends.” Somehow, it differs from person to person and there are a lot of factors to be considered:

  • Your attention span
  • How you control your concentration on music
  • How your workplace is situated

Productive Noise


While we’re still on the subject of sound and its correlation to productivity, I am bringing this topic up.

Have you ever wondered why you seem to work better in coffee shops? Research shows it’s difficult to work in a deafening level of silence. Common office chatter can be pretty devastating to.

What’s the lukewarm of noises?

It’s the regular coffee shop hum, or the campus chatter. This particular brand of noise sits just in the middle of silence and loudness. That means it’s not too silent for you to hear your own heartbeat and not too noisy to get too fed up with listening and stop being productive either.

So why are you productive at the lukewarm of noises?

  • You are in an ideal situation to concentrate on your job and have a small opening for conversation and foot traffic to give you some breathing room.
  • Web design can take a lot of time. Coffee shops provide you the space where you can sit and work with full concentration for hours. Yet, it gives you a sense of urgency because you are in a very tight deadline and the coffee shop has to close.
  • You feel working out of your workplace. Sometimes, your workplace gives you so much burden in your shoulders that often results into multitasking. But, in a coffee shop, you’ll feel casual, like you’re taking a long lunch or something.

But I think the best reason is what Kevin Prudy wrote:

…when we are alone in a public place, we have a fear of “having no purpose”. If we are in a public place and it looks like that we have no business there, it may not seem socially appropriate. In coffee-shops it is okay to be there to drink coffee but loitering is definitely not allowed by coffee-shop owners, so coffee-shops patrons deploy different methods to look “busy”. Being disengaged is our big social fear, especially in public spaces, and people try to cover their “being there” with an acceptable visible activity.

You want to simulate working on a coffee shop? Try Coffitivity.


Truly, noise and music can improve your productivity. Science agrees with that. But, often, it’s still a case-to-case basis. Some designers want to work in absolute silence; some can work even in concerts. Every person has a unique time, place or situation to enter into the creative zone and go extract some creative juices. I guess you have to discover that for yourself. All these are just guides, just to let you know that listening to music MIGHT be productive. Or it might not be.

So, where are your earphones?