Update 23rd Jul 2021

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We all have that one colleague at work who swears by working with their headphones on when they’re at their desk. But maybe they’re just relaxing that bit too much when they should have their head firmly in their work?

Well, to get to the bottom of things once and for all we’re going to take a look at the science behind this rather tuneful working habit and see if the results really are music to your ears…

Music Relaxes the Mind

Perhaps the key reason why your rather musical colleague seems so relaxed and at ease is that the rhythm of their tunes reduces stress and anxiety. This is great for a multitude of different reasons. The issue with stress and anxiety is that your subconscious is working overdrive in the background and you’ll find it much harder to be creative or to stay focused. When you let an idea settle in your mind and then a spark of inspiration pops into your head seemingly out of nowhere later on that’s your subconscious mind helping you out. If your mind is often elsewhere worrying about deadlines, unanswered emails, or the traffic on the road then you’ll struggle to ignite the world with your creativity.

You Need the Right Music

The importance of finding the right music can’t be understated, and it’s not something we can be too prescriptive with because everyone’s tastes are different. The secret is to be able to read your own mood and then get your playlist in action accordingly. If you’re feeling drowsy and in need of an injection of energy then something fast paced and exhilarating should lift your spirits. If you’re feeling a bit blue on a Monday morning then how about something with a bit of soul that will remind you of what makes you happy and full of life? And if you’re feeling stressed why not put on something a little more gentle and relaxing. Perfect for dropping your blood pressure and getting your head back in the game.

Keep Yourself Accessible

The number one complaint people have about their colleagues listening to music is that they play it too loud and it leaks out of their headphones; make sure you’re not that annoying person in the corner. The other thing that you’ll hear time and time again is people saying that it’s really anti social to work with your headphones on all day. To be fair this a well founded criticism so it’s important to get the balance right. In-ear headphones are a great compromise because they are unobtrusive and you can easily hear your music with only one bud in. Leave the other one out, preferably on the same side that your neighbouring colleague is sitting. This will allow you to stay open and accessible to the rest of your team so that they can easily ask you for some key input when they need to.

As with anything it’s all about striking the right balance. Experiment with different playlists throughout your day, and be sure to have a break where you’re not listening to anything so that you stay approachable to your colleagues and you don’t overload your ears. 

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