Ultimate work playlist for productivity
Staying productive at work can be a challenge, but add a worldwide pandemic and workplace disruption and the temptation for distraction only grows.
A DocuSign survey of 2000 Australian office workers now working from home shows although 80 per cent believe they work as hard or harder while remote, 44 per cent are struggling with "maintaining motivation".
Lifestyle medicine physician and author of Thriving Mind Jenny Brockis says being productive at work is important for both an individual's sense of achievement and for a business' bottom line.
Experts share their top productivity hacks:
FIND YOUR PURPOSE
Brockis says humans crave acceptance, to make a difference and to create genuine change. "(Meaningful work) increases productivity because we choose to work longer and take less time off for sick leave," she says.
"Seeing progress increases job satisfaction."
Brockis says workers who align their job with their core values and goals feel rewarded and this triggers the release of 'feel-good neurotransmitters' including dopamine, which is a powerful motivator to repeat the behaviour.
"It also reduces cortisol, lowering stress, enhancing wellbeing and focuses our attention on others," she says.
"Purpose builds trust and strengthens relationships through the release of oxytocin.
"Stronger social ties and empathy improve performance and effective teamwork."
USE THE RIGHT TECH
The shift towards working from home has sped up innovation at software companies that are rolling out updates and new programs to help people work collaboratively.
Online platform Microsoft Teams is introducing new video call feature Together Mode to make remote meetings more productive and less draining.
In this mode, call participants are ecut out of their backgrounds and superimposed into a single virtual space, as though everyone is sitting in a theatre together.
People slightly overlap, giving the feeling of physical proximity and allowing them to interact with virtual handshakes and high fives.
Microsoft Research scientist and 'father of virtual reality' Jaron Lanier says Together Mode creates a more natural image for our brains to process.
"Everybody sees everybody else in the same place as everyone else does, and so you can assess how people are reacting to each other - it's what we call the spatial social web of perception," he says.
"If you logged the amount of time that people spend negotiating who is to talk at a given time, it's lower in this mode and that is a direct measure of the ease of social co-operation."
Lanier says early research also shows people using Together Mode have reduced fatigue from frequent video calls, a better sense of connection with others, and more effective meetings.
"(We) observe them being able to recall the content of meetings, what was said and also who was present," he says.
NAIL THE PLAYLIST
Macquarie University Music, Sound and Performance Lab director and psychology professor
Bill Thompson says people underestimate the affect music has on the way they think and feel.
He helped create SEEK and Spotify's SEEK Sleepmix, designed to ease the minds of career insomniacs. seeksleepmix.withspotify.com
"Music affects two systems that boost productivity: mood and physiological arousal," he says.
"If we are in a positive mood, it can help us think creatively and keep an open mind and solve problems.
"For energy levels (physiological arousal) … it increases the speed and accuracy of our work, a bit like having a cup of coffee."
Whether it is a good idea to listen to music while working depends on a worker's personality.
Thompson says introverted people tend to prefer working in silence or with ambient music whereas extroverted people are more likely to thrive with more complex music.
He shares his advice for the ultimate work playlist:
THE BEST SONGS TO LISTEN TO …
WHILE WORKING/BLOCKING OUT NOISE
Listen to something upbeat and fairly predictable such as new age dance music.
Rufus Du Sol's Take Me is appealing and you can attend to it in a gentle way without being completely swept away.
There are other good songs by Kylie Minogue or INXS or Flume.
TO MOTIVATE A TEAM
Choose music that most people will like.
Get a feel for the room. Is this a room where people are going to like Matt Corby?
His song Resolution is uplifting and a little bit inspirational.
Alternatively, it could be something from INXS or Paul Kelly.
It depends on the crowd and type of people you are working with.
TO REDUCE ANXIETY ABOUT WORK
Try calm, meditative music that allows you to gain perspective - something uplifting with not much musical tension.
It shouldn't be overly energetic and shouldn't be your favourite pop song with a catchy tune. Think beautiful songs like Gurrumul's Child of the Rainbow, Guy Sebastian's Standing with You or some calming songs from Bjork, James Blake or Sigur Ros.
BEFORE A JOB INTERVIEW
Play music that says something about your own values and is empowering to you.
It might be music you enjoyed when you were 14 and you have always loved it since and it speaks to who you are as a person.
It can be Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell or Neil Young or death metal, as long as it's empowering and makes you feel confident.
Originally published as Ultimate work playlist for productivity