Music for Productivity

Music for ProductivityWith the rise in digital music, we increasingly wrap ourselves in music through the course of each day.  First with MP3′s and iPods, now with smartphones and streaming music services – we put our headphones on and use the music to block out the world around us… whether at home, at the gym, or at the office.

The problem is that recent research has shown that music does not always make us more productive.  In fact, the wrong music at the wrong time can have a detrimental affect on our productivity.

Classical music or music without lyrics can help – often heightening our thought processes while posing less distraction (no needless language processing).  But even classical music can cause mental interruption with the wrong instrument, the wrong tone, or the wrong tempo.

We are not all cognitive experts with an interest in musical analysis – and we don’t have time to hunt down the research of people that are.  So what’s a person to do?

The solution?  Let somebody else find productivity-enhancing music for us!  Enter [email protected], a new streaming music service (currently in beta) that lets you stream music from various genres that have been screened as productivity enhancers.

The music streamed by [email protected] has all been pre-screened as “soothing” to the limbic system – the portion of your brain responsible for alerting you to food, danger, and the opposite sex.  While useful thousands of years ago, these interruptions are an inconvenience when deadlines loom and distractions abound.  By soothing the limbic system, [email protected] helps us to quiet these mental distractions.

While currently in beta, you can sign up and (in my experience) get quick access to the service.  During beta it is free, but they will likely go subscription-based when they open to the public sometime in 2013.

How well does it work?  During the short time that I played with it, the selection of music it played was never intrusive – I would assume my limbic system likes that.  There were a few glitches where the music stopped playing unexpectedly – but that’s where things got interesting.

Only when I stopped typing to handle another task did I notice that the music was stopped.  THAT surprised me.  After all – don’t we all notice immediately (and grumble) whenever Pandora glitches on us?  Apparently the [email protected] music selection blends so well into the background that even stopping it does not pose an interruption.

Give it a shot and see what you think!  Sign up for beta access here.

[email protected] Says Its Streaming Music Service Will Make You More Productive” via FastCompany

“Does Listening to Music While Working Make You Less Productive?” via Time magazine
“Research Proves That Silence Can Be Golden” via Cardiff Metropolitan University
“Effects of Music on Cardiovascular Reactivity Among Surgeons” via Journal of the American Medical Association

Image Credit: Flickr user Brian Moore

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