How to find your work life soundtrack for more happiness
For as long as I can remember I have listened to music when I did anything like work, study, read or even just doing chores around the house.
Music adds a soundtrack to life. It just seems to make everything… Well, more fun.
When I was a kid, I saw a movie called I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988). It’s a parody film that pokes fun at hero movies of the 70’s. In it, the hero wannabe, Jack Spade, decides to go after the local crime boss, Mr. Big. So, he gets his childhood crime fighting hero, John Slade, to help. When they start walking towards the battle, these musicians suddenly appear behind them.
Jack Spade: [looks at musicians] “Who are these guys?”
John Slade: “They’re my theme music. Every hero’s got to have some.”
The perfect song can make anybody feel like a hero with their own theme music.
Boring repetitive tasks and chores around the house suddenly don’t seem so bad when you’re jamming to some great tunes.
And who doesn’t pump-up the volume when you hit the gym? I may be a mid-40’s Dad, but my gym soundtrack is loaded with Metallica, Motley Crue and various songs from different Rocky movies mixed in. Music sets the mood to workout.
Does Music Hurt Your Productivity While You Work?
What about work? Does music hurt your productivity while you work? Or enhance it? Personally, I believe the right music makes me many times more productive.
I have numerous Spotify playlists that are just for work time. I write content so I’m constantly researching and taking notes. For this I need to focus. I have specific playlists that I can choose for whatever type of work I’m doing. For example, while I’m writing this I’m listening to an instrumental category called Epic Music. It’s a non-vocal, powerful instrumental music genre that’s great for helping me focus and stay productive.
Music with vocals confuses my thought process. Instrumental works great, but only certain types. Old classical tunes put me to sleep.
How did I get hooked on this type of music? Well, a bunch of years ago I started listening to soundtracks to movies that had big battle scenes with instrumental tracks. Like the music from Pirates of the Caribbean and similar films. I’m also a gamer and a big fan of the soundtracks in many of the games that I play.
So, when I stumbled on to epic music on YouTube a few years ago, it was the perfect match. I was looking for music to play while I was gaming on Xbox and most of the artists who make epic music focus on gaming.
My Perfect Work Life Soundtrack
I liked it so much that I decided to listen while I was writing. As soon as I did I realized I had found my perfect work life soundtrack.
Give a listen and see if it works for you. This YouTube video is a Best of Epic Music 2014, one of my favorites.
The sweeping, hard-charging, hyper-aggressive, pump-up soundtrack music that you find in many games today is incredible. Gaming is big business. Many of the soundtracks for more popular franchises like Call of Duty and Halo have entire orchestras that do the soundtracks. It’s awesome stuff.
You can find epic music in many places. One of my favorite non-YouTube work playlists is the Total Dedication gaming playlist on Spotify.
Apparently, I’m not alone in my listening choices for more productive work.
The Relationship Between Music and Productivity
When I started researching this subject, I found an incredible number of studies that have been conducted on the relationship between music and productivity.
These studies verified much of what I had already discovered on my own.
How to Find Your Work Life Soundtrack for More Happiness
#1 Non-vocal music is better for linguist work. Meaning, if you need to type words then don’t listen to music with words. All the studies that I read agreed on this and they are they are spot on. My motivation to switch to non-vocal music happened after I found myself typing the words to songs I was listening to in a whitepaper I was working on. I was tired and the lyrics were getting mixed in with my writing. Non-vocal music is the way to go if you are writing. Or you can just take my advice and go with Epic music.
#2 Music helps people do repetitive work faster and more accurately. If you have something mundane or boring to do that involves repetition, then fire up some music to make it go faster. Highly skilled professionals like surgeons even listen to music in operating rooms to ease stress and help with focus.
#3 Music can also help reduce stress in noisy work environments. According to a 2010 article on noise and concentration in Scientific American Magazine, constant exposure to background noise can cause the release of cortisol in the body. Excess cortisol can impair function in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This is where functions like planning, reasoning, impulse control and even some short-term memories are regulated. Problems with this area of the brain can disrupt a person’s capacity to think clearly and retain memories.
#4 Turn off the music to study. A 2010 study in Applied Cognitive Psychology found that no music or noise is the best choice if you need to learn and retain any kind of knowledge. An interesting side note to this study was the fact that you can improve your mood by listening to your favorite pump-up music before you start studying. Music played while you are reading or studying, however, was a proven distraction in test subjects.
5# What about new music? Unfortunately, it’s almost always a distraction as your brain focuses on the new music instead of tasks or comprehension. In nearly all situations, choosing music that you’ve heard before is generally the best choice for work.
In the old days, whistling while you work might have been sufficient. Today we have many more options available to us.
Hopefully this post has provided some insight into how to find your work life soundtrack for more happiness and productivity.