How Music Increases Your Productivity

By on Oct 22, 2015

There are some tools and processes I use that help me accomplish my goals and get things done. Whether I am creating a new presentation, writing an article or creating a course, being able to concentrate on the task at hand is essential to getting it done promptly with high quality.

Being in an environment that helps you focus is essential. Moreover, this can be hard, especially in an open office environment.

Because of my travel schedule, I often need to work in unusual places. Many times my “office” is an airline club, a coffee shop or a restaurant (Panera is my favorite). What is interesting is I find working in a coffee shop or a restaurant like Panera allows me to concentrate more and thus be more productive.

One tool I have been using for about a year is a website service call Focus at Will. This service just plays background music designed to help you focus and concentrate.

However, it is much more than just a streaming music service. You see, there is quite a bit of science behind what type of music is played. This service dissects the science to help you be as productive as possible.

The problem with being able to concentrate is that our senses are constantly inundated with information. The light streaming in the windows, the sight of people passing by on the street, the smells of a cafe, the sounds of conversations, and the pressure of the hardwood table on your elbows.

Each time you notice something in your environment, you are paying attention to it. The ability to focus your attention on something while ignoring competing stimuli is called selective attention by psychologists, and we would never get anything done without it.

Can you imagine how distracting it would be to notice every little detail in your environment at all times?

The question many people want answered is how they can maximize focus so that their environment becomes less distracting. Neuroscience and psychology give us clues to help respond to this question. You can read a full description of the science behind the service on their site.

Doesn’t it seem funny that although cafes are full of noises of all sorts, many people (including myself) find it easier to work in the loud cafe than a quiet library? Some theorists say this phenomenon is the result of cognitive load; your brain only has so much processing power for any given sensory modality at a time.

The overloading of your auditory senses with stimuli results in a process wherein over a short period of time, usually about 20 minutes or so, you get used to the noise. This process is called habituation, and because of it you can free up your mind for the task at hand.

You will probably still notice when something unexpected pops up, but the neurons in your brain responsible for helping you sense the stuff in your environment quiet down and let you focus. This is also what happens within your brain when you are at a cocktail party and try to listen selectively to one person instead of the sounds of the entire room.

So, it seems part of the trick is occupying your brain just enough to let you work. In this vein, it has been shown that listening to music while you work can do the trick.

Focus at Will creates a selection of music that is “tuned” to help you get to a productive state of mind quickly and help you stay in that state for as long as possible.

Focus at Will

Focus at Will has a limited free trial so you can check it out. The paid service is $70 per year for an individual user with multi-year and lifetime subscription also available.

A business plan is also available so you can provide it to the entire office.

Listening to the right music does help me get more done.

What tools do you use to maximize your productivity? Let me know in the comment section below.

One Comment

  1. Hello Steve,

    It was good to see you again this week at AppliedNet!

    I also like to listen to music while I work to increase productivity. I use Spotify (free w/ ads), which has preset playlists for different “moods”. The “mood” I usually listen to at work is called Focus. There are probably 20 or so individual playlists in that “mood”.

    -Matt

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