Does Music Really Enhance Creativity in Business?

forms-w600PXh500PXMusic doesn’t have to be yet another addition to your list of distractions. Recent studies at the University of Birmingham suggest music is effective in raising efficiency in repetitive work; in other words, if you have a tedious work load on today, like entering numbers in a spreadsheet or filing papers… First read the rest of this article(!) then you can stick on the type of music that suits you best, to make the job go faster!

So what effect do different types of music have?

iu-emagazine-symphony-nature-reflecting-leaves-green-bright-glorious-light-echo-song-butterfly-dance-natural-friends-gods-will-sweet-jesus-father-my-kingSongs that include sounds of nature have been shown to boost mood and focus. These sounds can mask intelligible speech just as well as white noise, while also enhancing cognitive functioning, optimizing the ability to concentrate, and increasing overall worker satisfaction. A study carried out by the polytechnic institute found mountain stream sounds possessed enough randomness so as not to distract test subjects (although we can’t guarantee they didn’t feel the need to empty their bladder all the time!)

1200-153576633-woman-dancingSongs you enjoy. A research centre in Miami found personal choice is important, especially for individuals who are moderately skilled at their jobs. This is supposed to be because if participants enjoyed the music, they completed tasks more quickly and had better ideas as it was thought their mood was improved.

Songs you don’t care about. Research from Taiwan suggests if someone either strongly likes or dislikes the music played, they get distracted more easily and didn’t concentrate as well.

music_to_calm_down_moul_by_tadakatsukaw-d4qbolnSongs without lyrics. Words are distracting. If you’re trying to write a letter or email and you have music playing in the background that you know every word to, then you’ll likely end up typing the lyrics rather than the email you intended to write in the first place! So it’s not the noise to blame for lost productivity; it’s how intelligible the words are which forces our attention to shift. Speech distracts about 48% of office workers according to Cambridge’s 2008 study.

Songs with a specific tempo. One study by Canadian researchers found subjects performed better on IQ tests while listening to up-tempo music. So if your work requires you to be more upbeat (pun intended) try listening to music which matches this tempo. (Apparently upbeat music worked well for radiologists!) However, another study carried out in Malaysia, saw subjects report a massive reduction in stress and heightened physical relaxation when they listened to slower music with about 60 beats per minute. thumb_14So if you prefer to feel more relaxed at work and need a bit of de-stressing every now and again, try listening to some chilled out or classical music instead.

Songs played at a low to medium volume. Many studies have reported that music that is too loud tends to decrease the brain’s ability to process information, therefore reducing productivity. Moderate noise levels seem to be just right for creative thinking.

So if you don’t like working in eerie silence, try listening to some background music, preferably with no lyrics, at an average to low rate and make sure it’s something you don’t really care about! Oh and if you feel the need to relax in a stressful job; make it low tempo music, and if you are in a more upbeat job; maybe up the tempo a bit! To be honest with you, it all down to personal preference. There have been many studies conducted to establish if music enhances creativity, although more often than not there tends to be mixed results. Our guess is whatever works for you! Just try not to bother the others around you okay?! We won’t be held liable for that!

The key thing to remember here… Is that music is good for you!! The rhythm affects our bodies so our heart rate and breathing follows the same pulse, so it can relax and energise us. It can greatly affect our mood and so on a bad day you can use this knowledge to play something upbeat to lift your spirits. Music is a great tool so use it to your advantage! And a quick head’s up; we’ll be basing one of our blogs in a few weeks time on our experience of Download Festival 2016! Stay tuned!

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