How Music Affects Your Productivity – from Sparring Mind

As an ex-professional musician and music teacher, sounds are very important to me. I’ve written a review in the past about Ommwriter which I think is a wonderful writing tool thanks to both its simplicity and the range of ambient sounds it provides. You can just write with that program and do so chilling at the beach, working on a train or whatever kind of mood grabs you.

Today, I’ve read George Ciotti’s superb article at his site Sparring mind where he talks about the use of music to increase your productivity. The psychology of music and how it affects our mood, creativity and even intelligence is a subject I’ve taken a keen interest in for many years and even taught about the impact of music to my students in the past. All psychology research is subject to interpretation and often much criticism of course, so we have to be careful what we proclaim as fact, but Ciotti’s article strikes a nice balance between giving useful, interesting information about current research and actually giving solid practical advice to the writer.

What I particularly like is his copious number of music examples. I would not have believed him when he said listening to the soundtrack of SimCity was a good move had I not played the link he gave. I don’t play that game and I expected a cheesy electronic muzak. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard.

Similarly, as I write this, I’m listening to a storm produced courtesy of – thanks to Ciotti’s suggestion and helpful link – which is now bookmarked permanently in my list of helpful sites for writers. It’s odd but there’s something about working to the sound of rain!

strongly recommend you read this article and make use of at least some of the examples Ciotti provides. It is, quite simply, the best and most practically useful article I’ve read on the web concerning music and productivity. You’re sure to find something there to help you write more fluently and creatively.

Highly recommended.

How music affects your productivity


Music has a way of expressing that which cannot be put into words.

It is for this reason (and many more) that music is regarded as one of the triumphs of human creativitybut does music itself help one to create?

This is an important question to examine, because music has increasingly become apart of the modern-day work session.

The soldiers of yore may have faced insurmountable odds to the sound of trumpets, but we desk jockeys are typically left to fend off our piling inboxes with nothing more than iTunes.

With so much of our work now being done at computers, music has become an important way to “optimize the boring.”

Though it may be a fine way to avoid habituation, the question remains: does music actually make you more productive? More focused? More creative? Or is all that a placebo?

People like me need to know. For nearly all of my work sessions, I have music playing in the background. I once wrote 10,529 words on customer loyalty (how exciting) listening to nothing other than the SimCity 2000 soundtrack… and yes, more on that later.

Am I actively sabotaging myself, or is music spurring me to do better work?

Let’s take a look at the research.


To continue with this article click here

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4 thoughts on “How Music Affects Your Productivity – from Sparring Mind

  1. I agree with you, Ken, very interesting article, even if I find that more and more I need to seek silent sanctuaries. Certain types of music are good for work that doesn’t require complex thoughts but I can’t help remembering that scene from Ben Hur at the galley: “battle speed” – “attack speed” – “ramming speed”!!!![] 😆


    1. Ha ha – yes, oddly for a musician I often find I need silence rather than music. However, when writing stories I always have ambient, non-vocal music playing. Did you try the rain mood link? I can’t get enough of that right now and it’s not music at all but simply sound. I can’t get over how much it’s exciting me to write!


      1. Yes, I get that with the sounds of the seashore, but water and rain works brilliantly too! However that’s not music. If you play Bach in my ears I instinctively stop what I’m doing, close my eyes and …listen! 🙂 Can you imagine all these nature sounds, Bach for example would enjoy without the interference of motors and white noise?


      2. Ah well…we could debate just what is meant by music there Marina! There are arguments in numerous ways both for and against. I do know what you mean – I can’t play Pink Floyd for that reason. I just stop working! But instrumental Indian ragas I can work away to for hours!


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