Creativity And Music
I alluded to my usage of Spotify on a regular basis in my first post, and I think it’s time to take a further look. A workplace is full of distractions; that’s a given. We all deal with them because we have to. Whether it’s out of annoyance, or the desire to possess a degree of consistency, donning a pair of earbuds and turning up The Black Keys (for example) can provide the kickstart to your work ethic that you were desperately seeking.
The effect of listening to music is multi-faceted, and that is one of the reasons why I always have a pair of ear-buds in. Some people listen to music when they feel they’re losing focus; directing one’s attention to the lyrics, or a bass line can force someone to center their self. Others use music as a way to escape the distractions of–in this case–a busy workplace. Music reflects a part of our personality, and how we respond to different songs is always going to be unique.
In an article published in the New York Times, Dr. Amit Sood, a physician of integrative medicine with the Mayo Clinic, noted “…a wandering mind is unhappy,” mostly directed at “…focusing on the imperfections of life.” According to Dr. Sood, “…melodious sounds help encourage the release of dopamine in the reward area of the brain, as would eating a delicacy, looking at something appealing or smelling a pleasant aroma.”
Listening to music in an office environment can be considered a faux-pas. I’ve found that the general opinion of music in the workplace varies from office-to-office. As a student worker at DePaul University in Chicago, I had free reign to listen to whatever pleased me, so long as I turned the modest PC speakers down low enough. This, however, was in an informal, collegiate (literally) setting. I have encountered workplaces that did not allow workers to listen to music, but that was largely based on the individual perception of the various employees by the boss. Maybe it was because I was the young buck in the office, but I was not permitted to listen to anything but the screaming in adjacent cubicles, and I believe that my productivity suffered because of it.
Neuroscientist and musician, Jamshed Bharucha noted in an article forMedium.com that creative domains, like music, allow humans to connect in a synchronized way, helping us develop a group identity and makes us more likely to work together – which was an immensely important advantage for keeping the human species alive. Recently, our office began playing music in the background. While I spend a good amount of time–shockingly–listening to my own stuff, the office music certainly has furthered the sense of camaraderie that we share. It allows us to bond over our love–or hatred–of a certain band,
To me, one of the most powerful effects that music possesses is association: certain songs hold different meanings. I listen to instrumental rock music at work because I find that it gives a zen-like focus that I don’t get if I’m listening to gangsta rap, which I’m wont to do from time-to-time. In my experience, I found that listening to music devoid of lyrics is more effective than the converse. Finding music that flows between songs creates a sense of calm, conducive with creativity.
When you feel that you are losing focus, and that your level of productivity is dipping, remember that the rut can deepen without a variance. What’s important is to change things up; stop what you’re doing and do something completely different. Throw on your headphones and listen to music; It’s more likely to help you than it is to hurt.
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