Music – The Productivity Booster

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, a late German philosopher, once quoted “without music, life would be a mistake.”  It rings true for most of us.

Music influences our mental performance and ability to get things done. In a stress environment, music plays a significant role to unwind tense situations and boost nerve-racking mood. In Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace 2019 survey conducted by AIA Vitality, it is reported that 50 per cent of Malaysian employees suffered from at least one dimension of work-related stress. Therefore, music can serve as an instant and portable therapy for employees to get them back on track. So, how music does its magic?

How music affects your brain?

Have you ever started crying while listening to a sad ballad or tap your foot along to a happy tune? It is bizarre how music has the intangible ability to stir with your emotion. How it does that anyway?

It all starts with the flow of happy chemicals in the brain, namely dopamine and serotonin when a piece of music is played. The primary function of dopamine is to regulate emotional responses, while serotonin affects mood and social behaviour. These two happy chemicals work simultaneously, and our emotions are determined by the type of music that we listen to at a particular time.

How does music boost work productivity?

In a 2014 survey by Spotify, 60 per cent of respondents acknowledged music as happiness pill and productivity booster at the workplace. Music evaluation and researcher, Dr Anneli Haake from the University of Sheffield UK highlighted the importance of music to relieve stress, enhance concentration and improve the frame of mind.

However, not all music is suitable for all occasions. Dr Haake emphasised music choice and control play contributes to the benefits of playing music at work. Given the different circumstances, a particular type of music works best, such as:

  • Lyric-free music: Best to be played when you are about to learn new skills or information, as lyrics disrupt the ability to retain new information.
  • Pop music: Play it when you want to complete tasks faster.
  • Ambient and classical music: When your task needs high accuracy, this is the best music choice.
  • Familiar songs: If your work requires a deep focus, it is best to choose familiar songs. New music is a distraction from your work.

Music can either be a remedy or a tragedy, depending on its selection and situation. You have to play your playlist smart to make music amplifies your productivity. Eventually, we all have our preferred tunes, but knowing when is the right time to rock and when it is not can help you make the most of it.

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