Did you know that you can use music to boost productivity? Often overlooked, optimizing your sound environment is a great hack for improving productivity and staying focused.
Here are the steps you can take to figure out the best soundscape for you and how you can employ it in your everyday life.
Discover the noise, sound or music best for you
The first step in hacking your soundscape is to understand what it should be. This varies from person to person.
For me, chill, atmospheric, instrumental pieces like Enchantment by Tuatara are best, but you might get in the zone listening to speed metal or Justin Bieber (no judgment). Some people are very self-aware and can figure out their ideal soundscape right away.
However, if you are not one of these people, here’s a couple of methods that can help:
Method 1. Imagine your best work environment
Picture every detail. Do you sit or stand? Is it in an office, a coffee shop, a cabin in the woods, beachside, or elsewhere? Is it light and airy or shadowy and comfortable?
Finally, what do you hear, if anything? The low murmur of a busy office, the wind moving through the trees, waves going in and out, Cuban music wafting through the door, a fire crackling, a light classical piece, or unbroken silence?
Whatever it is, it should be something that you enjoy but don’t need to listen to closely.
Method 2. Try out different soundscapes
Write down a list of the music or backgrounds that you enjoy and think might be good for you.
Next, give them a dry run. Try them out for a short time. At least 30 mins is best, but less is workable. Keep track of your productivity and how it felt for each type. Remember, you aren’t trying to figure out what sounds or music you enjoy the most, but what helps you be the most productive.
Make sure you don’t just consider music or nature sounds. Sometimes, the best option is silence, white noise, or pink noise (white noise’s lesser known cousin). In any case, you now have your Productivity Sound (PS).
The last step is finding out if your PS is good for all tasks. Does it help your productivity with all the different tasks you do? If not, take the time to find your productivity sound for each task category.
Evaluate your workspace soundscape
Is your work environment compatible with the sound you find most productive? This is easy to check. For example, unless your PS is the sound of a noisy office and you work in a noisy office, the answer is no. If you don’t already know the answer to this question, take a second to consider it.
Hack your environment
If you’re a writer, self-employed, or work from home, you probably have the flexibility to choose where you work. In some cases, all you need to change is your work location.
However, if this isn’t possible, there are still a number of possible solutions. Here are some that I’ve discovered:
• White Noise devices or programs
I personally llike pink noise over white noise. If you prefer any of these two, there are a number of devices and programs out there that can generate these and other background noises.
A quick search will turn up plenty of apps, YouTube videos, and tracks to download, any one of which would do the trick.
• Create a work playlist
If your PS is a type of music, do a little searching in that category to create a long playlist. Remember, the goal isn’t to find songs you love, but instead to find songs that help you get work done. This means finding a song that you can listen to a hundred times without getting sick of it.
• Recording your favorite environment yourself
If your PS is someplace you can visit but can’t work at, you can always record it. You can use your cellphone, laptop or tablet to do this. There are plenty of free recording apps or programs out there like Audacity for my laptop.
Once you’ve recorded a good amount like 15 to 30 minutes of sound, you can just set it to play on repeat. Plus, having a recording that repeats helps you keep track of time even when you’re “in the zone” since you know how long each repetition is.
• Get a good pair of noise cancellation headphones or earbuds
For most of these solutions, a good pair of headphones or earbuds is required especially if you work with other people. Also, if silence is your thing, you either need noise cancellation headphones, total control over your workspace, or, if all else fails, a pair of earplugs.
See Also: 10 Productivity Musts for Freelancers
It’s a little-known fact that certain kinds of music can help you accomplish certain tasks, focus, be creative, relax, and meditate. This is known as binaural beats music which uses different tones played in each ear to strengthen brain waves.
The brain waves being strengthened change depending on the difference between the two tones. For example, 200 Hz and 210 Hz tones bolster 10 Hz brain waves.
A quick web search will turn up numerous scientific studies that have proven this effect. Put simply, if you listen to 10-20 mins of the right binaural music when you start a task, it will help you get it done.
Binaural music comes in various ranges. For concentration tasks, the beta range is best (13-40 Hz). For creativity or meditation, alpha is best (7-13 Hz).
For deep relaxation and sleep, delta and theta ranges are best (.5-7 Hz). You can get binaural beats tracks from apps, on YouTube, and various companies that make products that use this brain-hacking sound.
Isochronic tones, on the other hand, are a more powerful alternative to binaural beats. While more effective, they are less popular due to the way they sound.
Isochronic tones are made by turning a tone on and off rapidly, which results in a ‘click’ or ‘buzz’ sound that many people find unpleasant. Personally, I listen to a 35 min advanced concentration isochronic tone whenever I need to focus. Most of this article was written while listening to this.
So, there you have it! The best way to make your sonic environment more conducive to your work, no matter what it is. Just remember to continue to take regular breaks and never listen to anything for too long!
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Author: Erik Holsather
I help people achieve the best version of themselves through scientifically-enhanced music designed for deeper, more effective meditation. Get a free, binaural beats meditation course now at www.meditatemusic.com/binaural-beats-meditation-course/