Answering that question was tough… until I threw on some music. Then I fell right into the research groove.

It’s surprising how many offices opt for silence when music has been shown to improve problem-solving, increase productivity, and boost overall mood. We can summon the same experience at home when we need a little forward momentum. Is it possible that an unprecedented access to an endless variety of music has led us to taking it for granted? We shouldn’t.

Music locks in focus

A controlled study at the British CBT & Counselling Service in London found that students who listened to classical music while they studied earned a full grade higher (12% average) on their math exams. It’s not limited to classical. The key is to keep it lyric-free, as the sound of someone’s voice is distracting for most.

It assists creativity

Emotive music can produce a heightened state of excitement, which can help boost creative performance. It helps if the mood of the music reflects the emotion you’re trying to express.

Beats per minute matter

The music in the aforementioned study (which was sponsored by Spotify) was at 60 – 70 beats per minute. This appears to be a sweet spot. Speeds as slow as around 50 bpm have been shown to have a calming effect on the mind, which primes it for logical thought and is more conducive to remembering new facts.

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It can de-funk your mood

A study from 2013 suggests that our brains separate felt and perceived sadness, leading to a head-scratching yet beneficial side effect. Playing sad music while feeling sad? The sadness you perceive from the art is less painful than the sadness you feel… and it often makes you feel better. Musicologists are hazy on the Why, but whether it’s cathartic or it helps shift your perspective, the result is a less paralyzed and more effective you.

Volume matters

Background noise challenges your brain’s processing skills. Too loud and your brain loses, becoming impaired. A moderate volume however challenges your processing just enough to kick in that problem solving secret weapon: abstract processing.

Layout is huge

The human experience shouldn’t involve wearing headphones for more than a few hours a day. When it’s time to elevate your environment instead of blocking it out, layout is crucial.

Audio is like lighting: You don’t want everything coming from one source. Aside from causing rifts in shared spaces (Whoever is closest to the speakers will always want them turned down), it creates an atmosphere of pockets, few of which are at the volume and clarity conducive for presence of mind.

It pains us to see average speakers haphazardly placed in their environment. Every space has the potential to become an audio oasis.

We, of course, would love to help you create yours.