People, Culture and Inclusion

Music and Motivation.


Music and Motivation.

record player

Whenever I’m about to start a mundane, repetitive, boring yet necessary task, my first instinct is to ‘jack into’ my ultimate playlist and bop along to my favourite tunes. Without them I just don’t feel able to maintain my productivity – I need the music to keep me motivated throughout my day.

While some people may find working while listening to music distracting, it really helps me focus and lifts my mood. I’m always creating playlists for any and all occasions. I’m also that person who, when people say something that is a song lyric, I have to sing it (sorry to those who’ve experienced this!) I can also be known to burst into song with no provocation.  I sometimes make up songs that are just about what I’m doing at that moment (bet my office-mates aren’t missing that!)

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like music (unless I’m singing it). Sure, we don’t all like the same kinds of music – my own taste would be classed as eclectic. But music can affect us all in different ways. It connects us to moments of our past (I can’t listen to Pachelbel’s Canon in D without feeling that rush of joy I felt the first time I heard it at the tender age of 4) and helps us stay grounded in the present (like clockwork I’ll blast out Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince’s Summertime the moment there is even a whiff of sunshine). Music evokes emotions, its how we express ourselves. It’s powerful, beautiful, annoying, inspirational and, yes, motivational.

I’m not just talking about the motivation you want/need when getting yourself pumped to do a workout. But that motivation we need to draw upon to help us be the best we can be in our work.

So, why does music help us feel motivated? Well, the science tells us that listening to the music we love releases dopamine – a motivational neurotransmitter and ‘feel-good’ hormone (put in really simple terms as I’m no scientist!) And these things ring true for me – when I listen to music I feel happier, more productive, less stressed, more able to retain information and sustain my concentration.

I’m listening to music more now that I’m working from home than I ever did while I was in the office. In the office, I was very conscious of those around me and not wanting to be a distraction to them if I could avoid it. I also wanted to make sure I was present and available – just in case someone wanted to grab me. So, as a result, I didn’t listen to music while working as often as I wanted/needed to. Instead I drew upon different strategies to keep me motivated. But now, while working at home, I’m finding music to be a real boon in counteracting those lockdown blues and screen-fatigue. 

And, depending on my mood and environment, the music I use to help me stay motivated changes. I always start my day blasting some 80’s Rock or Disco (don’t judge me!). Sometimes I want a classical playlist if I’m working on something intricate – it helps me concentrate. On occasion I want something more up-beat in the background (Motown or Soft Rock) if I feel my motivation is dipping come the afternoons – this can really help with sparking my creativity. Music’s also helping me get up and moving throughout the day – you just gotta dance when THAT song comes on, don’t’ you?! And I always end my day with some wind-down tunes – annnnddd relax…

But sometimes I just open up Spotify and search a playlist that fits my mood at the time – this is a great way, I’ve found, of expanding my horizons and listening to music I wouldn’t have thought to. It also keeps what I’m listening to varied and fresh – giving me that continued boost.

Below I’ve shared Spotify’s ‘Happy Hits!’ playlist that I’m listening to at the moment. I hope it brings you a little joy, inspiration and motivation to get you ready for the day/week ahead.

Zoe Connell, Organisational and People Development

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