Kids Health

The Pros And Cons Of Listening To Music While You Work


By Paige McBride/Aug. 24, 2021 3:22 pm EDT

Music is more than a preferential pastime. In fact, opinions on whether or not music is helpful in the workplace seem to be almost untouchable. As for whose opinion is correct, it often depends on a variety of factors. Between the type of job in question, the genre of music and the individual, there are a lot of variables that can impact how music interacts with productivity.

In the case for music at work, the BBC notes that following along with various tunes can help people focus better and simultaneously improve their cognition. Historically, music and work have always been intertwined,” Karen Landay, a former professional violinist and graduate student at the University of Alabama, tells the outlet. “Think about romantic visions of peasants singing as they harvest, or sea chanteys sung by sailors as they work on their ships. And since most people enjoy listening to music of some kind in at least some contexts, it’s perfectly natural to feel that music must have some sort of positive impact on our work.”

The outlet goes on to cite the “Mozart Effect” in which people who listened to the famous composer for 10 minutes performed better at small tasks. If you’re looking to concentrate and work better, finding instrumental harmonies can give you the extra support you need. Furthermore, different tunes can liven up monotonous work and keep you feeling upbeat. However, music with lyrics may distract you from more intense projects, so you’ll need to choose your music and your timing wisely.

Music has varying effects on memory

While some studies show that music positively affects the memory stores of the brain, others find the opposite. Healthline reports that listening to different tunes can slow your working memory. This aspect of the brain handles sequential data and remembering various lists. Most people can only remember a few details at a time and listening to music may take up valuable space. Indeed, some research links a reduction in working memory capacity to listening to music while you perform tasks.

In addition to impacting your working memory and reducing your ability to concentrate, listening to music also may lower your reading comprehension, the outlet notes. We all know the feeling of reading something but having no recollection of what we just perused — and music can often create that feeling. Limiting your ability to dive deep into the task in front of you, playing your favorite song could be more detrimental than you think.

Just like you’ve probably noticed already, you may have to turn down your playlist when you get to more in-depth items on your to-do list. On the other hand, menial tasks that don’t require your full attention can pair well with music that keeps you moving and feeling uplifted. Since songs can improve your mood, it may be wise to play a happy playlist in the morning to set you up for the day ahead but turn it off when it’s time to focus. 

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