Build a Playlist That Will Boost Your Design Ability

“Creativity, the ability to produce work that is both novel and appropriate, is adversely affected by stress and certain moods” As designers, that’s a lot of responsibility we place upon our state of mind. So how do we keep it level and maintain high creative productivity (even with a bad case of the Mondays)?

More music, more productivity.

A study done by the Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research found when music causes a positive mood, participants (in this case, computer software developers), tended to perform better on nonmusical tasks (developing software). This led them to believe that creative problem solving increased due to the pleasant mindset music provided. So if we listen to great music, we can produce better content? Sign me up.

But wait, how does one know their best killer playlist that will invoke those creative juices impatiently waiting to be set free? Hopefully this post will help you develop a better understanding of your designer-on-a-mission mix you can always count on.

We all have different music preferences, and no two creatives are alike. What makes us choose the songs we choose, and are they the right ones for productivity during the workday?

Music is related to our past experiences.

A man named Harold E. Fiske studied the state of mood after listening to certain music. He concluded that “mood states following music listening are the result of an individual’s unique past experiences.” First rule of thumb: know yourself. You must know yourself as a music lover and the triggers that influence you negatively and positively. Choosing songs that will invoke negative past experiences are probably ones you want to avoid at work, so perhaps that Adele playlist making you think of a certain break-up should hold off for another occasion.

Social Identity plays a part.

It is said that another “function of music is considered to be defining social identity for oneself and for others.” Your social identity is your sense of who you are, based on your social group memberships. Which music groups (genres) do you associate yourself with specifically, when designing at work? Intense Rock? Complex EDM? Energetic Rap? What makes your pen tool move most gracefully? Keep this in mind before plugging in those headphones to get in the right mindset.

We listen to the music we find comfort in.

Lastly, listening to the music you find comfort in can also maintain a level headed and productive mind at work. According to the study mentioned earlier by the Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research, music may “serve as an anxiety preventative or anxiety reducing measure.” The tested audience of developers had a reduced state of anxiety when music of their preference was present during the given job.

Makes sense – our music preferences are based on our own comfort levels and catalysts for positive thinking. And remember – no two designers are alike. Perhaps Adele brings happy thoughts to one person and sad memories to another. The list of studies over musical benefits during the workday go on and on, and this is just a brief summary of a few. What mix of music will keep you going today?

By Noelle Itin
Published April 12, 2018