Can music be used as a tool for productivity and motivation through association?


Again, I really need to stop with these fancy titles, but I just can’t help myself.

So recently, I have been a little stressed (which explains the lack of blog posting – although I have no idea what excuse my co-blogger will have!). Having started the journey down postgraduate study, my life now consists of literature reading, trying to understand many difficult concepts all in on go and shadowing the resident PhD-ers to get some answers to the ever-growing list of questions.

Today was a particularly stressful day, albeit, the stress is completely self-inflicted. I like to work by deadlines. Deadlines are what push me to get stuff done and force me to manage my time better. Today happened to be the day before my self-imposed deadline where I had to have all of my chemistry reading and methodology done so that I have something to show in my supervisory meeting tomorrow. I came home from shadowing in the labs and was feeling downright unmotivated. I watched TV, cooked dinner and lounged about on the internet knowing full well that I had not done any of the chemistry reading I was supposed to. So what did I do? I turned on my Spotify web player and I started playing Alt-J’s new album ‘This is All Yours’. This album has recently become my go to album when I am doing work or trying to be productive. And would you believe it, a couple of hours later I am finished with all my reading and not once was there a lack of motivation, or a thought of procrastination crossed my mind. I was astounded. Just a few hours earlier, I was determined to be the most unproductive person ever, and now I have checked off all the things on my to-do list.

This brings me back to the title. I can’t quite explain why it is that when I am listening to the mellow tones of Alt-J that I suddenly focus on my work. Maybe it’s a Pavlovian response that when I hear those particular songs, I am more focused on work. Again, I am sure there is literature out there investigating this kind of effect, but I’m done reading papers for now.