If you’re attempting to work from home, a conundrum has probably presented itself: how can you get anything done in a distracting environment amid unsettled times?
Your streaming service or record collection may hold the answer. Beyond providing background noise, music has been shown to improve both productivity and cognitive performance, especially in adults. Listening to music can help people manage anxiety, become motivated and stay productive. You just need to know how to make the right playlist, reports theguardian.
Kick off the day with a trick from music therapy. The concept is known as the iso principle, which is a technique therapists use to alter the mood of a patient. The therapist will match music to how the patient is feeling, and then gradually alter the songs to achieve the desired mood state.
Researchers have found that a faster track speed can result in increased performance. In one study that examined the relationship between music tempo and productivity, most test subjects performed best while listening to songs paced at around 121bpm. This is about as fast as tracks like Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe, Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance with Somebody, and I Will Survive, by Diana Ross.
Nelson says that the choice to include lyrical tracks in a playlist should depend on individual preference. While research suggests that listening to upbeat, complex music can help workers stay alert and motivated while performing repetitive tasks, narrative lyrics can be distracting to those trying to do cognitive work. The bulk of a work playlist should include songs with innocuous or subtlely performed lyrics, such as those by artists like Grouper, Brian Eno and Jenny Hval. For those who prefer non-lyrical music, music by Dawn of Midi, Steve Reich and John Adams are great places to start.
Creating a work-from-home playlist should never feel like a chore. Rather, it can be something that accretes over time. “If you hear a song and know that it makes you feel good, pop it into a playlist,” says Nelson. As the playlist grows, arrange tracks in the order that makes sense for the way you work. “Allow yourself permission to listen to new music, try out new things, take things out, bring things in,” Nelson says. “Allow yourself that flexibility.” If you don’t feel like listening to your playlist, you don’t have to.
Tracks 1-4 are for transitioning into work. Tracks 5-16 are good tracks for when you’re in the flow. Tracks 17-20 are for transitioning back out.