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Musical mind-hacks on Monday mornings

    We all have our own ways to hit high gear and become the most productive versions of ourselves. Stocking up on office snacks, going for a morning jog, or drowning your digestive system with coffee until your heart rate sounds like a race horse’s and your eyes are bursting out of their sockets. Creating the right setting and state of mind is instrumental to finding your Zen before you bust out 50 pages or finish up that report your client’s been asking about. Usually, this includes minimizing the extent of how much of the outside world is coming into our work space. However, research shows that minimizing external stimuli doesn’t necessarily have the effect you’d expect. Music has proven to not only have a positive impact on the quality of work we put out, but also have a different effect on your work depending on what genre of music you listen to.

     Research conducted by neuropsychologists at Mindlab International has shown that ambient music improves the accuracy of data entry in 92% of people, which explains the sudden popularity of genres such as “lo fi” or “deep house” among college students. Dance music improves proofreading speed by about 20% (I still refuse to listen to it). Classical music improves motor function accuracy by 12%, which could explain why so many Olympic athletes vouch by the genre for training purposes. And finally, Pop music was shown to reduce “mistakes” by 14% (someone should’ve told these guys).

     I’m sure most of us would agree that music is great and all, but there are a couple of points to keep in mind when using it as a productivity booster. First off, you must remember that learning new things requires your brain to remember instructions and facts, thus, you must engross yourself in a familiar environment so that your mind can more easily detect and differentiate that which is not familiar, so that it may adopt it. The music you listen to is an element of that aforementioned environment. Another point to keep in mind is that if your job requires linguistic processing and you decided to listen to music, you should probably opt for music without any lyrics due to the fact that listening to songs with lyrics activates the Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, the parts of our brains that process language, which probably should be saved for accomplishing the task at hand rather than processing the words being played in your headphones.

     All in all, music has many different benefits both in and out of the workspace. What else puts you in high gear when you’re at work? 

Mohammad Alakil

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