In our new-ish work-from-home world, it can be a real challenge to replicate the same levels of productivity and creativity we experienced in the office. Our new offices look a little different, and with them come new challenges to our focus.
We may be spread out at the kitchen table, propped up on the couch, managing a house full of rowdy kids, or maneuvering around roommates. No matter what your new “office” looks like, I think we can all agree that the new nine to five routine is certainly an adjustment.
And for those of us in more collaborative roles, we miss the excitement of brainstorming new ideas together on a whiteboard or breaking through project roadblocks over coffee with the team. Although there are virtual ways to replicate these interactions and many folks are thriving at home, for some of us it just doesn’t feel the same.
So, how can you stay focused at home—and block out that barking dog, crying baby, or roommate who doesn’t seem to know what headphones are? While there are a number of ways to inspire creativity when you’re in a rut, queuing up a solid playlist of your favorite songs may just be one of the easiest.
There’s a huge body of research to show that listening to music while you work can have major benefits. While ultimately it comes down to personal preference, here are some reasons you should consider creating a work-from-home soundtrack to drown out the noise, reignite your productivity, and boost your mood—plus, check out what the U.Group team is tuning into these days.
Boost Your Mood Instantly
Listening to music triggers the release of dopamine and serotonin in our brain—the neurotransmitters that cause you to feel happy and relaxed. This means that when under pressure or stress, music can have a calming effect and boost your mood to make you more patient, cooperative, and collaborative.
Drown Out the Noise
Playing music can cancel out the effects of a noisy environment. Just because you’re not in a busy office space at the moment doesn’t mean your work-from-home setup is automatically quieter. Research shows that listening to music when it’s noisy helps your brain focus. Distracting and loud work environments overwhelm your brain quickly with too many stimuli. All that energy leaves you feeling stressed, irritated, and unfocused. Tuning out the noise by playing music can help your brain re-center on the work in front of you.
Work Faster (and Better)
If complete silence is an option in your home—lucky you—try to consider the type of work you’re doing when picking your playlist. Research shows that when your main focus is on learning something new, it may be better to opt for silence to allow your brain to process all the new information. However, studies show that when you’re performing more repetitive tasks, you’re more likely to work faster and make fewer mistakes when you’re listening to music.
Queue Up Your Favorites
For more productive work, listen to music that you’re familiar with. When you listen to a song for the first time, your brain expends a lot of effort to decide whether you like it. This means your attention shifts away from the task at hand. For maximum music benefits, stick with your tried and true favorites to get you over the finish line.
If you need an energy boost to gear up for a big meeting or finish out the tail-end of a project, try empowering yourself with a soundtrack of upbeat, high-power songs. Research shows that these types of tunes are proven to make us feel more energized and ready to take on challenges. When surrounded by the same four walls day in and day out, a playlist of high-energy beats will definitely come in handy.
For all you gamers out there, try compiling your favorite video game tracks to equip you for the challenge ahead. Most music in video games is strategically designed to increase your levels of focus when completing difficult tasks (like avoiding obstacles and traps). These tracks don’t have to just amp you up to power through a challenging boss fight—they can help you level up your work-from-home game, too.
We asked the U.Group team to share some of their favorite songs and artists on their work-from-home playlists. Genres ranged from jazz to indie, deep house to classical, classic rock to hip hop. One thing’s for sure—the beat makes a big difference when it comes to what to stream.