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Experiment: How Music Affects Our Productivity

by | Jun 7, 2016 | Productivity Experiments

Takeaway: Over the next month I’ll be diving deep into how music affects our productivity.

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minutes, 36s.

MusicThe deeper you look at productivity, the more things you discover that impact how much you get done every day. That includes some weirder things such as what you eat, whether or not you exercise, and even how fast you try to work. This idea is what has made it possible for me to continue exploring how to become more productive after my productivity project finished—while I thought I would have run out of things to explore long ago, so far the well hasn’t dried up.

Music is yet another one of those things.

If you’re anything like me, you may listen to music for much of the day—while doing everything from working, to exercising, to commuting. For me, most days music is so intertwined with my day that I often don’t realize I’m listening to it in the first place.

This observation led me to ask a curious question: how does music affect our productivity, if at all? Do certain songs and genres and tempos lead us to focus better? Does this vary depending on our personality—like whether we’re an introvert or an extravert? Are some songs more conducive to working on certain types of tasks? Is everyone wired differently? Does it depend on how we’re feeling on a given day? What does the science say?

Over the next month, I intend to find out.

For fun, over the next five weeks, in addition to diving deep into the research around music and productivity, I’ll also mix up what I listen to, to not just look at the science, but to explore the idea subjectively as well. For the next month, I plan on listening to only:

  • Instrumental music the first week
  • Slow jams the second week
  • Pop music the third
  • Rock music the fourth
  • and absolutely nothing the fifth

while maintaining a log of how much focus, energy, and motivation I had throughout the day.

I’m excited to see how this one goes!

Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of two books: Hyperfocus and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in 27 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

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