Tuning out the distractions


Tuning out the distractions- the office playlist

Most people I’ve met in life can easily be filed into one of two camps; those who like music and those who don’t. I’d never go as far as saying one particular group is right or wrong but having grown up around music and having it accompany my thirty something years on the planet, I have no understanding of people who can sit in complete silence.

For me, music can be an inspiration, it can be a distraction from the background commotion and it can be a calming influence when required.

Unless of course it’s music I hate.

I’ve been called a music snob in the past and it’s probably been partly justified. I can’t think of an entire genre I dislike but surely even the most fairweather of music fans can hear there is good and bad music in the world. That bad music has no place in the ears of myself, my friends or colleagues around the studio.

Science says yes.

I’m not basing this all entirely on hearsay. A study published in “Scientific Reports” back in 2014 took 21 young adults with different tastes and backgrounds and played them some classical, country, rock and rap while mapping their brains in an MRI scanner.

The research showed that hearing a preferred song connected the listener to a part of the brain called the default mode network and let’s face it, there’s nowhere better to connect to when you’ve just clocked into the office.With previous studies indicating that music may also encourage productivity and stimulate learning, it’s of no surprise that a steady stream of tunes has become almost ubiquitous in the modern workplace.

Pump up the creativity.

The working environment can have a massive impact on the type of work that’s output. Some of the most sterile web projects I ever took part in creating were at a company where I had to wear a shirt and tie and music in the office was outlawed.

Surrounding yourself with books and cool works of art may be options in some web development studios but with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music being so easily accessible, there’s very little excuse for music not shaping a part of that creative environment.

A few good tunes can even make the most mundane tasks appear more enjoyable. Studies on assembly line workers found signs of increased happiness among the workforce, which correlated with a rise in efficiency and productivity.

Getting away from it all.

Many of us in this industry work in an open office space. This has many pros and cons and can lead to some debate over what makes for good and bad music in the workplace. We’ll come to that a little later but first there are the inherent problems with those wide open spaces we work in.

That background noise can really grind some people’s gears. The weekend catchups, the noisy client meetings, the never-ending stream of phone calls can all build up to that annoying level where without a private room to escape to, a good set of headphones can be the only answer.

Much like the intelligible chatter around the office, sometimes the lyrics of a song can be distracting. More often than not I find myself listening to fairly ambient music with a distinct lack of words. What works for one person won’t always work for another but here are some types of track you might enjoy on your productivity playlist.

What’s on the Pale Blue Dot stereo.

Many of the studies carried out in this field indicate that classical music is one of the default go-to’s for this sort of playlist. I refer you to the beginning of this piece though where we discussed the positive impact of “music you like”. There’s a plethora of great classical tunes available out there and if that’s your thing you’ll not be short of music to fill your day.

The Pale Blue Dot playlist covers a lot of styles and genres. It’s all of a similar BPM and at a fairly ambient level. To paraphrase Radiohead, there are no alarms and no surprises here.

We’ve included some lo-fi indie, a little folk, electronica, ambient dance tunes, dare we say soundscapes? There’s something for everyone in the office to enjoy and we’ve also curated it to a whopping seven hours long.

That means the boss can enjoy a little bit of Britpop on his lunch hour and soothing, ambient, productivity enhancing sounds will fill up the rest of the day.

Of course, you’ll need to loop it for those stressful deadline days with the accompanying late nights but that’s another blog for another day.


Scott Edgar

Scott is a front and backend developer and avid designer. His technical skills include HTML5, CSS3, jQuery, PHP, Bootstrap, Responsive design.

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