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How music can help you focus and be more productive


It’s the third week of lockdown here in Nigeria, with most people getting used to the idea of working/studying from home (A new concept for a lot of Nigerians). For some, it’s been business as usual, while others have had a harder time adjusting to the change. It can sometimes seem difficult as there are a lot of interferences from family, friends and the feeling of not being motivated since the environment isn’t what it used to be.

Remaining focused and productive throughout the day is a challenge most of us face while having to work/study from home. It is natural for our attention to diminish, especially when we are feeling tired from our day’s events. Thankfully, there are ways to regain our focus and increase productivity levels. Some of them include coffee, meditation, and, as you may already be aware, music; which is our focus on this article.

Did you know that certain types of music can help you focus? Music isn’t just a means of entertaining ourselves: it can also boost creativity and help us in becoming more productive. Listening to music can also be therapeutic, relieving feelings of stress so you can concentrate better. The fact that listening to music can lead to a release of dopamine (an organic chemical released in the brain, which plays a vital role in how happy we feel). Dopamine also affects movement, memory and focus in our system. The connection between music and dopamine production was backed up by research a long time ago.

Not only will music make us happier, but research has found that certain types of music can be favourable to us while we work. Some examples of music have found to help with learning and improve our ability to process information. Other types can help block out distracting background noise. Still, different sounds can sync with our brain waves and induce “eureka moments.” All you need to do is match the right type of music with the task at hand.
“Music has the potential to take a person from the Beta brainwave state to deeper Alpha, and then Theta brainwave states, depending on the music,”. Dr Masha Godkin, a professor in the Department of Marriage and Family Sciences at Northcentral University.
“Music activates both the left and right brain at the same time, and the activation of both hemispheres can maximize learning and improve memory,”. Dr Masha Godkin
Choosing the right music may be more thought-provoking than you think. It’s natural for us to want to listen to our favourite songs or favourite styles. Still, it’s essential that you choose music that will increase your focus on the task at hand, rather than distract you.
  • Classical Music
    Researchers have long claimed that listening to classical music can help people perform tasks more efficiently. The absence of words in the music may be one factor, as songs that contain lyrics can act as a distraction when you’re trying to focus. And classical music is known for being calming, relaxing and helping in the reduction of stress levels.
  • Nature Music.
    Listening to the sounds of nature has been shown to enhance intellectual function and concentration. Nature sounds work best when they’re soothing sounds, such as flowing water or rainfall. More jarring noises such as bird calls and animal noises could cause a distraction to the brain. Researchers found that calming nature sounds also had a restorative effect on intellectual abilities.
  • Cinematic Music
    Movie sounds can make you feel like you’re doing something inspiring or important, even if you’re only chipping away at your to-do list. Cinematic music can be empowering, lifting your spirits and brightening your mood. So, if you’re feeling tired and drained, try listening to some epic-style cinematic music to give you that extra boost of motivation.
  • Video Game Music
    Video game music is composed in a way that keeps you engaged as you evaluate, navigate and often fight your way through these make-believe worlds. These musical compositions may be just the thing to propel you onward and keep you zooming through your tasks and daily to-do list.
  • Music between 50 and 80 beats per minute
    Some research suggests that it’s not the type of music that is important when helping you stay focused and productive, but more the tempo of that music. Studies have found that music with 50 to 80 beats per minute can enhance and stimulate creativity and learning. When we’re awake, we’re typically in a state of mind known as beta, a heightened state of alertness where our brainwave activity is between 14 and 30 HZ. When our brain slows to between 7 and 14 HZ, we’re in a more relaxed alpha state of mind that allows us to be more receptive and open, and less critical. This state of mind is what scientists associate with activities that involve our imagination, memory and intuition, including our “eureka moments.”
Have you ever listened to music that you’re familiar with, only to find yourself deep in thought and not paying attention to the music at all? If you have, then you have experienced an alpha state induced by music. You’re tuning out while being tuned in.
  • Your favourite music.
    When it comes to tackling projects that you’re not particularly excited about, it can help to put on music you enjoy. Studies have found that putting on your favourite type of music can improve your mood and productivity.

Train yourself to associate certain music with productivity.

Have you ever heard of Pavlov’s dogs? At the turn of the twentieth century, Ivan Pavlov found that his dogs would not only salivate when they saw food but also when they saw the person who would be feeding them. The presence of food wasn’t necessary to trigger this response in the dogs. This behaviour meant the dogs weren’t just salivating because of the smell or sight of food, but because they learned to associate food with the person who fed them.
This phenomenon is called “classical conditioning.” Conditioning means we can train people or animals to react in a certain way when they see or hear a stimulus. In the case of Pavlov’s dogs, the dogs conditioned stimulus with the person the dogs associated with food. You can use the concept of conditioning to train yourself to be more productive through music. You can achieve this conditioning yourself by associating either a specific song, a particular style of music, or a certain playlist with productivity. If you consistently complete tasks while this specific music is playing, you’ll automatically start to feel more productive whenever you hear that music. It will become so habitual that when you press that play button, things get done. Hopefully, these tips will increase your productivity. Next time you’re feeling unmotivated, try turning on a song or a piece of music that will complement whatever it is that you’re doing. Set a goal for yourself, flip on the sound that suits your needs and get working.
You’ll be finished in no time.

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