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Brainwaves and Song Craves: Is Music the Answer to Higher Work Output?

It’s 3:00 in the afternoon, it’s beautifully sunny outside and you promised yourself you would work for two more hours before calling it quits for the day. You’ve already written your daily blog post, read a few updates from your favorite gurus, created a new graphic design for your favorite website and now you’re about to get down and dirty with your new ebook. But something is missing.

You open up your favorite text editor with every intention to punch out three or four more pages. But getting that first line started is nearly impossible. You keep fidgeting in your chair, looking out the window, clicking your pen and surreptitiously clicking on the Facebook tab on your browser. You know you should be working, but mustering up the energy and creativity to do so is something that you’re just not up to at the moment.

So what do you do? You already took a break a few minutes ago; taking another one would probably just detract all the more from getting back to work. Should you flip through your new self help book? Watch a YouTube video describing how to use the newest iPhone? You’re running out of ideas, and the clock has never been slower.

Will Listening to Music Really Help?

Before you put your hands up in disgust and exclaim, “I’ve already tried listening to music and it doesn’t help!” let me explain myself. The debate on whether listening to music while you’re working hasn’t been solved with a “yes, it does” or “no, it doesn’t” resolution. In fact, according to experts, the situation actually depends on a lot of variables.

First, you have your work environment to consider. Are you trying to cover up the noise of other employees (when you work for someone else) or your wife and the kids in the kitchen (when you work at home)? Are you trying to fill that deafening silence that keeps your brain at a standstill? And last but not least, what types of music have you tried?

It probably doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that listening to ear-piercing scream metal or heart – attack – on – a – speaker club music isn’t the answer. So if you’re shuffling Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson or David Guetta’s best remixes, don’t be surprised if you don’t get much done.

On the other hand, listening to music that’s too soft and quiet (or just too boring) won’t get you too far either. The trick is to listen to music with a certain BPM (beats per minute) that keep your brain revved up without significantly slowing down or speeding up your heart rate.

Does it take a little trial and error? Sure. But since personal preferences have a lot to do with how much productivity you end up with, I can’t really give you a “listen to this artist and succeed” answer. However, I would recommend starting off with music that is played under your normal listening level and without many lyrics. That way, the distraction factor is greatly reduced.

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About Sean Donahoe

Sean is one of the most recognized industry leaders in business and marketing. As a popular speaker, author, consultant he has helped over 50,000 students world wide find success in their businesses and has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and businesses of every size grow and thrive...


  1. So true. It's a topic I have always wondered what's best. Ambient or Classic music is best IMO.

  2. I would have thought it would be a case of how a particular type of music affect your mood, as mood has a direct effect on focus.

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