The New York Times highlights a study where respondents who listened to music as they worked were more productive, and actually more persistent, than those who didn’t. The reason: music improves our moods, allows us to stay in the moment longer, and helps us focus a bit more. The New York Times Web editor Amisha Padnani writes:

Dr. Lesiuk’s research focuses on how music affects workplace performance. In one study involving information technology specialists, she found that those who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t, because the music improved their mood.

The piece later goes on to say that having the individual select the type of music is an important factor in the process, and that instrumental music (without vocals) allowed respondents to work most effectively.

  • Alberto Conte

    I don’t care to be more productive. I want to be more happy.

    • Josh

      And more happy = more productive

      • TheDaveCollins

        And more productive = more happy. Really.

  • Shrunken Designer

    For me, it depends on what I’m working on at that time. If I am in an ‘idea generating’ state, I listen to instrumental music, film scores and some classical. Having music like this playing doesn’t interfere with the idea generating process for me and can help it in some instances.

    When it comes to actually producing the work, being in the ‘closed state,’ I can stick on rock, metal or any kind of music really. I also can listen to a podcast or have a film playing in the background. This helps me from over thinking what I’m working on and lets me approach the design or illustration in a more intuitive manner.

    Sometimes, I need silence but, most of the time, I need something playing.

  • Bob Tabor

    For me, it’s not the genre or content of the music. It’s how well my brain already knows it. I have a set of about 12 albums (?) that I’ve listened to (guessing) a thousand times over the past 18 years. It’s rare something works its way into the rotation. I might be OCD, but If I have to process new music AND think critically or be creative then I’m fighting an uphill battle on two fronts.

  • jacobthejones

    A lot of the time, listening to familiar music can be counter-productive. As least with creative jobs, listening to slightly different music can be enough to get you out of your comfort zone. It’s like working in a coffee shop. That slight amount of distraction helps you to avoid getting stuck in the same patterns of thought.

  • Jason Vanzin

    Depends. I listen to Rock when I want to bang through tasks, and I listen to classical when I need to be creative.

  • Sheri Maple

    I listen to classical and jazz during work, cleaning, or cooking a meal. It does puts into the moment and helps me focus. I find it better listen to instrumental or vocal because if I am listening to vocal than I want to sing, so that a good idea if I don’t something that requires detailed worked.

  • Justin Price

    I seem to need pure music when writing or working on concepts at starting point. vocals can really throw my concentration out, especially with known songs. Once a plan is in order though I tend to move on to faster paced and more involved compositions but really depends on what mood I am in, and where I want to be.

    Without that aural inspiration I know for certain my work would suffer.

  • markwguay

    I love some dub-step w/o lyrics. But, sometimes, I stop writing and just start dancin’.

  • Kris Hadfield

    If I’m having to pump out pages and pages of work in a short period of time I need high bpm music (French Hip Hop and such), but if the work is at a leisurely, creative stage then the music I choose is more mellow and ambient.

  • Nina

    Deep house music works best!

  • Carlos PFA

    I did that in college… not in class though 😀

    Still do it when I need to concentrate… Obviously rock music works best

    Unless you like something else, then obviously that works best.

  • Dave Mthembu

    Metal helps me to be focused and really productive… Bands like Amon Amarth are great cause they sing about medieval wars, conquering briefs with the best possible way of winning!

  • Rod Collins

    I am a big Metal music fan but when it comes to productivity Mozart works best for me.

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