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Member Appreciation Month: Find Your Workplace Groove

Let's face it, some work days are just harder to get through than others. Whether due to an overwhelming to-do list or just finding it hard to focus — everyone needs an assist now and then.

Today we're exploring using music in the workplace to improve concentration and productivity. And we'll also check out the flip side, using complete silence to aid performance.

The Power of Music. Music has the power to do for the workday what a white noise machine does for sleep, that is, block out distractions. Studies have shown that melodic music also improves your mood by releasing dopamine in the reward area of your brain, which in turn bring about additional positive outcomes from productivity to creativity.

When deciding if listening to music at work will work for you, consider what type of task you'll be doing and whether music will help or hinder you in that task. New research has shown that music can increase your attention span when working on things that are repetitive but may be a distraction when you're tasked with critical-thinking. Each person is different, though, so find out what is right for you.

Music can be especially helpful for those working in an open office plan where there is little privacy and endless distractions. If this sounds like your situation, try tuning out the office chatter by wearing headphones* to listen to music if your firm permits it.

The Right Kind of Music. Instrumental music is usually seen as a better choice when it comes to music-to-work-to, since lyrics can be distracting especially if you like to sing along. Classical music — especially Baroque-era music like Bach and Vivaldi — is often recommended and will keep you humming, but there are plenty of other good options too.

The most important factor to consider is your own personal taste and what works best for you.

At the ISBA offices, Media Manager Sara Anderson prefers working to Vitamin String Quartet, a group that transforms popular songs into classical arrangements, while Membership Coordinator Ann Boucher uses instrumental scores from movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, to help her stay focused.

Director of Membership and Marketing Alexa Giacomini falls in the 'silence' camp (see below) but every now and then needs the motivation that only an epic soundtrack can provide, and when that happens it's always composer Michael Giacchino's 'Lost' (all seasons).

Listen to Your Beats Before Work or During Breaks. If you find listening to music during the workday too distracting or your firm doesn't allow it, you can still reap the benefits music has on elevating your mood by listening to music 10-15 minutes before you start working. 

Or try listening to music over a break or lunch hour. According to the doctor interviewed in a New York Times article, it takes just 15-30 minutes of music listening to help you regain concentration, setting you up for better productivity.

The Science of Silence. As mentioned above, there's a growing body of research looking into the power of (complete) silence when trying to focus on more intellectual tasks at work. Interestingly, they're discovering that age and personality type (extrovert vs. introvert) also may play a role in how music affects people at work. And that people with ADHD may also need a bit more noise from an external environment to improve their concentration skills.

For those who prefer silence at work, noise-canceling headphones* are a great option for keeping distractions at bay and improving productivity.

Whatever your work preference, it's a good idea to routinely evaluate your work environment and see if it's working for you. Sometimes the smallest tweaks can have the biggest impact.

*Be sure to enter our first-ever Caption Contest for a chance to win a pair of Beats by Dr. Dre Headphones that play music AND are noise cancelling. Find out more here.

Posted on May 24, 2017 by Sara Anderson
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