Ludovico Einaudi, Drake, Foo Fighters and even The Cheeky Girls were quoted when I asked what type of music my colleagues listen to when they need to concentrate at work. Although we regularly listen to the radio in the office, we often end up switching between stations several times a day, as there’s only so much of the ubiquitous The Greatest Showman soundtrack we can handle.

Music is personal; it can bring back cherished memories, alter moods or simply be used as a distraction. My music taste is completely different to some of my colleagues, and it changes depending on my mood or what I’m concentrating on.

When I need to concentrate on a piece of writing, whether it’s a blog, press release or even a proposal, I pop in my earphones and open Spotify to choose a playlist that suits my mood. It’s become a bit of a ritual to get myself in the ‘zone’.

After a quick whip around the office I discovered that around 50% of my colleagues listen to classical or instrumental genres, while the other 50% enjoy pop, rock, jazz or indie music. No-one came back to me and said that they preferred not to listen to anything while working.

The science of music

There have been various studies into the impact of listening to music and its effects on mood, concentration and productivity. This is where it gets scientific. When we listen to music, our brain releases the chemical, dopamine, which helps regulate our body’s movements, attention, learning and emotional responses.

Music has also been proven to reduce stress and anxiety and increase motivation. Mindlab International, a UK based research company, found that one piece of music in particular reduced anxiety by up to 65% in those interviewed. The piece of music titled ‘Weightless’, by Marconi Union, was created alongside a group of sound therapists and deliberately incorporates certain harmonies and rhythms which help to reduce the listener’s anxiety and stress levels.

The benefits

I came across a recent infographic created by WebpageFX, which highlighted the impact of music on workplace productivity. It claimed that 90% of workers interviewed said that they perform better when listening to music, and 88% stated that they produce more accurate work. Asking colleagues, I know that when they are working to a hard and fast deadline, most agree that they are more focused when listening to music on their earphones, compared to listening to music playing aloud on the office radio.

The research also showed that different music genres can benefit workers in different ways, for example, it claimed that listening to classical and pop music can improve written accuracy by up to 14% and dance music can improve proofreading speeds by 20%.

It’s certainly food for thought if you have a deadline approaching.

At davies tanner, we’re big advocates of listening to music and we’ve curated a playlist with our recommended tracks for increasing concentration. If you’re not a fan of our selection, perhaps try one of the following, more generic, Spotify playlists.

Happy listening!