Put on headphones and become more efficient: How music affects productivity

Not all of us have a separate office, so sometimes you have to work in noisy open spaces and coworkings. Colleagues are talking among themselves and by phone, the equipment “buzzes” - in such conditions it is difficult to focus on your task. Quartz conducted a study and found that in the open space the productivity of workers is 5–15% lower.

Headphones [ our yesterday’s compilation with headphone reviews up to 10 thousand rubles ] and the replacement of the “background sound” can be a way out of the situation About how headphones and music range help to be left alone with their work, let's talk further.

Photo hitesh0141 / CC-BY

Scientists say that work is best done in the so-called flow state. Psychologist Mihaly Chikszentmihai (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) explains : a person cannot perceive more than 110 bits of information per second, and the interlocutor’s speech alone is already 60 bits. Therefore, it is important when you fully focus on the task so that everything else seems to exist.

Before you enter the "stream", you need to go through two stages. The first is a struggle. You are faced with a task, because of which the body produces stress hormones: cortisol and adrenaline. The second is preparation: you are aware of the task, relax, at this moment dopamine and endorphins are produced, you get complete control over the situation. Studies have shown that all this takes about 15 minutes.

Here you are finally in the right state - spend most of the bits at work. And then the colleague needed to clarify something - he “takes away” some of the bits from you, the state of the stream is interrupted. You have to re-concentrate. Time passes, and the work is worth it.

Therefore, headphones can be a good signal - they say I'm busy. In his newsletter, editor Maxim Ilyakhov wrote: "When I have headphones on my head, it means that I am not there, do not distract me." In this case, it is better to work in overhead headphones - it will be seen from afar that you are busy.

With this tactic, another problem may arise: when your colleagues need something from you, they will come up and clap their shoulders. Therefore, the company should develop a rule: if you want to talk, first write in the chat and only then come up.

“In one of my past offices, it was decided that if someone is sitting in headphones, it can only be distracted through Slack. It was impossible to approach the table (with rare exceptions), ” says user tedminston on Hacker News.

What music to listen to

The correct background soundtrack itself increases the efficiency of work (albeit not all - more on that later). In 1980, Soviet scientists conducted an experiment and found that while working with music, people memorize information better and are less tired. For example, at the Perm Telephone Plant, on “music” days, the marriage rate was 5–7% lower than usual.

However, there is no definite music that is guaranteed to give an increase in efficiency to each employee. Genre is an individual thing. Spotify and Figure 1 conducted a survey , according to which 90% of surgeons listen to music during operations. And their preferences are different: they include both rock (49%) and R & B (21%).

Robert Love, a Google developer, opted for jazz, classical and electronic music. And Max Levchin (Max Levchin), co-founder of PayPal, prefers fast rhythms: “Trance or techno - from 130 bpm and higher - and instrumental versions of compositions. If there is a vocal, then only in an unfamiliar language. This music supports in tone, and also creates some kind of tension that does not distract from the brain activity, but only adds care. ”

Scientists also hold the opinion that it is better to listen to music in an unfamiliar language or without words, so as not to pay attention to them. A Cambridge Sound Management study found that 48% of open-space workers are most distracted by other words — and in essence it differs little from the words in a song.

That is why “compositions” were born that do not contain words at all. In truth, they don’t even have music. The song “A a A A A A Very Good Song” is 9:58 minutes of silence performed by Samir Mezrahi. This track hit the top of iTunes and climbed higher than Ed Shiran's “Galway Girl”, Duane's “Welcome Welcome” by Johnson's “The Rock” and Chris Lane's “For Her”.

Quartz is advised to listen to calm music without abrupt transitions, so that the brain is not distracted by them. Our mind is always trying to predict what will happen next - no need to load it with it. A good choice would be jazz, classical music and works of minimalist composers, chill out, ambient, soundtracks from movies and games.

Note that, according to scientists, the volume of music is also important. Its optimal level is 70 dB, which is called moderate in a study at Oxford University. According to the experiment, this volume allows you to better process information and apply abstract thinking. Loud music (85 dB), on the contrary, prevents to perceive information.

Everything has its time

However, neuropsychologist Daniel Levitin (Daniel Levitin) believes that "too much music" can harm performance in certain cases. He says: “You like it so much that it creates the illusion of productivity.”

Scientists from the University of Cardiff conducted a study: they gave a group of subjects the task of memorizing information. They were tested under background music and in silence. In the second case, the results were better. Another experiment was conducted back in 1977: the test subjects were counted in the opposite direction with fast music, quiet music, or no music at all. The best results were shown by those who believed in silence.

It turns out that music is an instrument that needs to be used correctly. Levitin recommends listening to her 10–15 minutes before work and in the breaks to tune in and relax. The scientist makes a reservation: if it is a question of monotonous activity, then music helps to excite the body. If the work does not require special creativity, then it is better to do it with music - so it will be less boring, and you will be less distracted. And when you need to invent something, music only in vain consumes brain resources: one way or another, you are distracted by rhythm, words, change of songs in the playlist.

If you are unable to work effectively with music, but the noise of the office also interferes, you should try to listen to the sounds of nature. Scientists from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have determined that the sound of water in the mountains against the background is beneficial to labor productivity. To work to the sounds of nature, you can contact the services of Brain.fm and Noisly.com .

Another option is to include white noise. Joshua Uziel, a developer at Planet Labs, gives this advice: “When I want silence, or at least just to drown out the surrounding sounds, I put on my closed headphones and turn on the white noise.”

The benefit of white noise is confirmed by the Acoustic Society of America study . According to him, arithmetic tests and tasks for memorizing information are better performed with white noise than with music or someone else's speech.

What headphones to buy for work

We now turn to what headphones should choose. To work in openspaces often buy headphones with active noise cancellation. When music is playing, this function is not particularly needed: the outside sound will still overlap. But if you want to just sit in silence, the noise reduction will not drown out the voices of colleagues completely, but will turn them into an indiscriminate moo and make them less noticeable. Fans of complete silence can use both ear plugs and headphones with active noise cancellation.

“Bose QuietComfort 35 is probably one of my best purchases in life. The sound quality is excellent, and noise reduction drowns out the office noise. I often use them without music, just to be in silence, ” recommends Reddit user with the nickname bigvibesmydude.

User Cheech47 advises Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b headphones : “I've been using them for two years now, taking them with me on a plane and using them in the office to block out the surrounding noise. There were no problems with ear cushions, and the fit is always good. ”

However, it is believed that active noise reduction due to the principle of operation has a detrimental effect on the ears: “Active noise reduction increases the load on the eardrums. This is not very good when it comes to constant use throughout the day. It is better to prefer headphones with sound insulation without active noise cancellation, ” said Stephen Venuto, a Silicon Valley start-up.

The user Reddit under the name masklinn is also pleased with the physical soundproofing: “I have AKG K271 . They are closed, so colleagues do not hear my music, and I do not hear them either. Headphones are not cheap, but they are worth their money: reliable, they look good (albeit slightly bulky) and sound good. ”

Particular attention should be paid to the convenience of headphones - you need to be comfortable for you personally. “I've been using the Sennheiser HD280 for two or three years now, and they are beautiful. They are not music lovers, but give a good sound. They are comfortable - and I hate it when I have something in my ears or pressure on them from above, which greatly limits the choice of headphones. They also block all extraneous noise when playing music at medium volume, ”the masterzora shares on Hacker News.

Let's sum up

As noted above, music and headphones are tools that, when used properly, can help improve productivity and quality of work. Just need to remember a few things:

PS Additional reading on the topic:

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/406291/

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