For the last few months, I’ve started listening to music more because I’m mostly working from my basement. Here are my informal conclusions on whether listening to music helps or hurts your productivity.
First, it depends on what kind of work you are doing. For some kinds of work, it doesn’t hinder your productivity at all and makes it more pleasant. Obviously.
Second (and this is the important point), I’ve found that for intensive work that requires focus and great concentration, listening to music keeps me from getting into the zone and thus causes my work to take a lot longer. Further, there are some breakthroughs that probably don’t happen because of the fact that you aren’t able to concentrate fully — thus decreasing the quality of your work.
This happens in spite of intentions, and you largely have no control over it. In other words, even if you have high energy and are ready to get into the zone, music will often prevent it from happening.
This applies only to music with words, and there are of course some exceptions. But in the main, I’ve found that if I need to get dialed in and concentrate, music with words is a big stumbling block.
That’s what I’ve found. What have you found?