Music at Work

I’m often asked variations on: “What’s important to know about designing good software?”

One answer? Good music piped through good headphones!


Know the music that gets your blood moving, but doesn’t act as a distraction and get it into your ears.

Top 10 reasons why you should wire in to music while working:

  1. It will help you manage ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’
  2. It will help you tune out the ‘water cooler talk’ around you
  3. It will get your blood moving, your foot tapping and fingers typing – we are multi-taskers by nature, and for most people having audio in the background helps us actually work faster
  4. It will make you look busier – people will think twice before interrupting you (sometimes I will put the headphones on even without the music for this reason)
  5. It will give you an excuse to try and ignore even the persistent people – “Oh sorry, I didn’t hear you!”
  6. It will help keep you focused longer by giving you something else to concentrate on during short breaks (instead of getting dragged into other tasks, or email)
  7. It’s a lot better than listening to the hum of the fluorescent lights and other high frequencies
  8. Music helps release stress! And who doesn’t have too much of that?
  9. Many of us don’t actually need 10 reasons to listen to good music…
  10. Hrm… hold on, I’m going to listen to some music for a bit and try and come up with a better #10… um, nope – that’s it.

Music has been linked to biological changes, mood control and productivity over and over again… and if that’s not enough, the ‘Mozart effect’ isn’t even limited to humans – one study I saw even pointed out a case where dairy cows produced more milk after listening to classical music!