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Does listening to music while working increase or decrease your productivity?

over 6 years ago from , Freelance Designer

I prefer to listen to some music to drown out all the other distractions and focus on work at hand. I've heard stories of people playing some movie in the background while working.

I would like to know if any of you do this too or have any other (better) means of concentrating.

25 comments

  • Savelle McThiasSavelle McThias, over 6 years ago

    If I need to get into my 'critical thinking' mode, then I won't listen to music. I don't necessarily need silence or to drown any noise out. It actually helps to have a team around in the background, working on their own problems. Gives me a sense of camaraderie. If I am in my headphones, it separates them and I always want to be available to help.

    If I have everything planned out and I am just doing the production design or development process, then music is great.

    As far as techniques go, I concentrate naturally if I find my own way to become emotionally invested in the project. Finding a reward system helps too, even if the reward is simply creating a list and checking things off. I love the act of placing a pen on paper, so that helps me a ton.

    8 points
  • Stefan ZweifelStefan Zweifel, over 6 years ago

    I'm a developer and I always listen to music. Really helps me getting into and staying in my zone.

    Most of the time it's movie or game soundtracks. Main-playlist has a 40 hours playtime.

    3 points
  • Andy LeverenzAndy Leverenz, over 6 years ago

    I start with music and then switch things up with podcasts(too many to list). If I really need to focus sometimes complete silence works or a new app I discovered is quite nice http://noiz.io/.

    This all also depends on the work being performed. If I'm trying to write a blog post or email then I would prefer silence or http://noiz.io/ and if I'm designing or developing then It's music or podcasts.

    1 point
  • Vasiliy LeytmanVasiliy Leytman, over 6 years ago

    Mode 1 — Make and write down (sketch) the idea. No music, and it definitely decreases productivity. Mode 2 — Make the design. Usually increases, not that much but anyway. If work is a bit more of boring one, like searching some clipart for the project or doing large text layout, its better to go with fast-paced, energetic music, its progressive trance or deep house for me. Mode 3 — If work is more creative. I'd better listen to some classics, or even better — some noise-like sounds. The best ones I've found are http://mynoise.net. It really helps to get into flow state of mind.

    0 points
  • Jeremy WellsJeremy Wells, over 6 years ago

    I love listening to music while working, but it can't have lyrics or I can't think.

    0 points
  • Mike MulveyMike Mulvey, over 6 years ago

    For white/brown/pink noise:

    http://simplynoise.com

    I prefer brown noise. Turn on oscillation and it sounds like the ocean.

    0 points
  • Mike MulveyMike Mulvey, over 6 years ago

    If I have to use my brain, then it's music without lyrics: classic, jazz & electronic. I'll even listen to brown or purple noise (as opposed to white noise.

    If I'm just doing production work, I can listen to anything.

    My top picks for "thinking" music (nothing earth-shattering here):

    • Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
    • Miles Davis, Bitches Brew
    • Boards of Canada, Music Has the Right to Children
    • Glenn Gould, The Goldberg Variations
    • and new to the list: Hans Zimmer's score to the movie Interstellar
    0 points
  • Dan Boland, over 6 years ago

    It depends on the level of critical thinking I have to do. For super-intensive things, I go without music, but if it's something that'll take a while and I know what I want to accomplish, the headphones go on. And I've discovered that the more "into it" I am, the heavier the music becomes. So if I'm listening to death metal, leave me alone!

    0 points
  • Kyle UnzickerKyle Unzicker, over 6 years ago

    Increase, no question. However, what does decrease my productivity is when I go down a rabbit trail of Related Artists or browse a label's collection on Rdio. It's not uncommon for me to spend a good half hour one day a week browsing and curating my collection.

    0 points
  • Bruno MarinhoBruno Marinho, over 6 years ago

    I'd say I use music for 75% of my work done. But for some hard problems I found that I really need to turn everything off and focus to have the necessary attention I need.

    It's not that I need complete silence but since I'm a musician I believe music will always distract me more than someone who's not a musician. Mainly cause to me there's not such a thing like work music or ambient music. I just hear things that I like so...

    I wrote some words about music and work some while ago in case someone is interested in read: https://medium.com/@brunoportnoy/press-play-and-get-it-done-5460dd368a9c

    and also for who's interested my top 10 albums of 2014 - https://medium.com/@brunoportnoy/top-10-albums-of-2014-b042c3703fb1

    happy new year.

    0 points
  • Robbert EsserRobbert Esser, over 6 years ago

    Classic music increase my productivity for sure.

    0 points
  • Mike BusbyMike Busby, over 6 years ago

    If I'm designing ill play anything from electro house to metal music.

    If I'm coding I usually play chillstep channel on di.fm. I can't listen to any "intense" music. I can't concentrate.

    I've found I do quite well while playing movies or TV shows in the background. I thought it would be a huge distraction but I gave it a go and it works well.

    0 points
  • Account deleted over 6 years ago

    For me it's 50-50. I can focus just fine without listening to music however sometimes if the office is chatty or I need to give a lot of concentration to a problem I'm trying to solve I'll put on headphones and listen to music.

    I use Apple's EarPods as they allow me to still hear the outside world and if someone comes up behind me to talk about a project I can still here them.

    I never listen to music with words while working I find it way to distracting. I listen to "Coffee Table Jazz" on Spotify most of the time when working. Here's a link: https://play.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/5O2ERf8kAYARVVdfCKZ9G7?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open

    0 points
  • Bahaa HashemBahaa Hashem, over 6 years ago

    I work remotely so I don't always work directly with the rest of them. Either way I feel for me to really find that 'flow', I need to be listening to music to feel fully immersed in what I'm doing. Usually do my best work when listening to classical piano (Ludovico Einaudi is a boss) and believe it or not, movie soundtracks (Hans Zimmer is also a boss), but my playlists are ridiculously diverse and are decided according to mood, energy, weather, and the project of course ;).

    Never understood a movie playing in the background that's just noise to me.

    0 points
  • Antonio Felaco, over 6 years ago

    Designer & Developer here!

    When I need to design something and I need to brainstorm, research, draw a lot of stuff then I prefer to listen to my playlist here on Spotify with downtempo music and deep bass mostly: http://open.spotify.com/user/1253519107/playlist/2mXxm3Hnx6dLLsBf69FCqf

    Instead if I am coding, I prefer just silence so I put my in-ear headphones with no music and just concentrate on coding.

    Never heard about someone focusing with movie in the background :D That's very curious!

    0 points
  • Colm TuiteColm Tuite, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    If I'm doing anything that requires any sort of critical thinking, I can't concentrate when I'm listening to music. I don't get as distracted when I'm listening to instrumentals but it's still a massive drain on my concentration.

    I also find that listening to music causes me to procrastinate a lot more than usual. For example, I might start wondering who wrote a song, , then Google the songwriter, then check out his/her other work etc.

    I play a lot of instruments and write music, so I'm guessing that's the root of the problem. I often find it difficult to enjoy music (or most things, come to think of it) without analysing the origin and composition of whatever it is I'm supposed to be enjoying.

    turns off music

    0 points
  • Deryck HensonDeryck Henson, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Music is a must. I've noticed that when classical is playing (particularly modern classical and pop song remakes) I'm able to focus an incredible amount of my attention on what I'm reading and/or coding.

    On the other hand, when I'm doing something graphical my thought process is much better assisted by house music or hard rap (yep).

    When the music stops I feel like a void is introduced that must be filled at all costs.

    0 points
  • Pete PetrashPete Petrash, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    If you work in an open office, headphones + music is a must for canceling out the room. I try to stick to instrumentals and its served me well.

    I usually pause the music when I'm reading and really trying to absorb something. It's most effective when my brain is just on auto-pilot, plowing through a task. Experiment and see what works best for you.

    I curate a work instrumental playlist here on Spotify if you're interested: http://open.spotify.com/user/petekp/playlist/3uGuzpdOPd4Oxc4B6I3S4J

    Would be cool to see other people's work playlists too.

    0 points