How Music Can Help You Focus and Increase Productivity

By Ciara Conlon

Music is a wonderful addition to life and can help you be more productive. It can lift your spirit, comfort you when you feel blue and even help you to focus and get more done. Following are three areas to consider when deciding to use music to help you to focus.

The type of music

The type of music that assists focus depends on the job at hand. If you’re doing a boring and repetitive task, something that doesn’t require much cognitive function, any music you like can help to make the task more pleasant. This is similar to the way you can drive and listen to your favourite tracks without it affecting the quality of driving, unless of course it’s Barry White because you may need to pull over and have a boogie.

When you need to focus intently, for example when you’re studying or writing, disco music is probably not the best choice. Classical music can be a good choice. You can try out different pieces of music to see what effect it has on your ability to focus, or you can use a website with a choice of music that has been specifically chosen to assist focus. Websites such as Brain.fm or Focusatwill.com are definitely worth trying out.

The science behind it

Experts in music for concentration at focus@will have created a library of instrumental music that has been remixed, re-edited and scientifically remastered specifically for focus enhancement. The trick, they say, is to engage your brain’s limbic system, to increase your attention span and general concentration.

The Limbic system is a primitive part of the brain that is responsible for reacting to stimulus. When you are faced with a threat the limbic system reacts to the threat before you are consciously aware of it. In simplistic terms music engages the primitive part of your brain long enough for you to get some focused work done.

Familiarity of the music

The more familiar you are with a type of music, the less likely it is to distract you. When you’re familiar with the beats and rifts, you’re more likely able to focus. Your brain has a filter that alerts you to change. Anything different from the norm is likely to alert you. When the music is habitual and well known, the brain has no reason to disturb you.

Listening to music can not only calm the internal monkey mind, but it will also help to block out the external distractions and interruptions. Oh, and remember to wear the biggest headphones you can find, and hopefully the rest of the office will get the message.