Do you like to listen to Music or Noise – but will it help you concentrate?

The majority of the population do not consider listening to music or other noises as a concentration tool. I’m sure your teachers or parents told you off for listening to music when doing your homework. Perhaps they would tell you that you need quiet to concentrate.

Okay, if this is the case, how does this account for all the people who swear by music or noise to help them concentrate? What about the people who say they get their best work done in loud environments such as open offices or coffee shops? Are they really doing their best work, or would they be even more productive and produce better work if they worked in a quiet place?

So if music is thought to be just another distraction by a lot of adults, why am I saying it can help you concentrate.

Let’s look at some research.

To find out who’s right, I had a look at the science, and this seemed to muddy the water even more.  The research revealed that both arguments correct depending on the individual. It then said that there were not just two types in the noise/no noise debate, there are three!

These groups are:

  1. Group 1 who need quiet to concentrate. They cannot get anything done while listening to music or in a loud environment. For them, playing music or working in a loud café would reduce their concentration. Even an open plan office would be a struggle.
  2. Group 2 are just the opposite. It turns out they are in fact much more productive while listening to music or noise than they are in a quiet environment. Some of them even complain that quiet spaces make them sleepy. So, for this group, playing music, listening to the TV in the background, or getting other noise is essential for them to concentrate and stay focused.
  3. Then there is Group 3. These people either are not bothered one way or the other about background noise OR sometimes they are bothered and sometimes they aren’t. So sometimes music or noise may help them and other times it hinders them. Also, it can also depend on what the background noise is. So an example could be that music may be helpful, but a coffee shop may be harmful.

So, what’s the take on this?

If you are one of the people who feel like noise is helpful, you now have scientific proof that you are right. Listen to music or background noise to your heart’s content while working if you need it but get some headphones if you work with others to keep your neighbors and work colleagues happy. An alternative could be – go to a coffee shop or café – whatever works best for you. This means you can write your novel in a café, on a train or in a hospital ER.

If you work in a noisy environment and you can’t concentrate with all that noise, invest in noise-canceling headphones so you can block all the noise out especially if you have a project to finish. This could be useful if you live in a noisy house or your work space is in the same room as the TV.

If you have never tried music or noise as a concentration tool, try it and see what happens. It may be just what you are missing to make you concentrate more and be more productive.

Which one are you?

I’m in the third group. If I am studying or want to concentrate on a project, I need peace and quiet. If I am researching or writing blog posts like now, the classical music is the noise of choice. Always knew I was odd.