Pick the best music to help you focus

We may not be whistling while we work, but we’re certainly listening to music more often and headphones are becoming workwear in some offices.

The first chord of your favourite song can immediately transport you to another time on your life. It can excite you, make you melancholy or just put a smile on your face. This ability to transport your mind is one of the reasons so many people like to listen to music as they work. It just makes working more pleasurable.

The science behind this relates to the dopamine effect. Music releases dopamine in your brain. This is the feel-good chemical that is released when you eat delicious food, fall in love, or get heaps of likes on social media. It’s also released when you listen to music you like.

In most instances, after a certain amount of pleasing stimuli, the dopamine effect diminishes. You build up a tolerance known as the law of diminishing returns. But this isn’t so with music. It’s one of the easiest and healthiest ways to get a dopamine fix.

You just need to be careful not to overdo it and start rocking out in your cubicle, instead of doing your work. Here are some tips to choosing the right music for your work tasks.

For mundane and repetitive tasks, such as filing, invoicing, sorting through social media comments or filling in spreadsheets, it’s best to play music you already know and like. Play something familiar that will make you feel happy doing your tasks.

If you’re trying to learn something new or doing a new task with which you are not familiar, or trying to commit some difficult knowledge to memory, it’s best to avoid lyric-driven music. It’s too easy to become distracted singing the lyrics in your head to learn. Try playing instrumental music or something not too wordy.

When you need to be creative or solve a problem, your music selection becomes vital. The secret is to keep the music between 50 and 80 beats per minute. Think Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ or Disney’s ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’, for your reference.

So next time you’re looking for inspiration while you work, don a pair of headphones and run your favourite playlist. At least you’ll be smiling while you earn a dollar.