When you work from home as a blogger or freelance writer, you have a lot more control over your work environment than you would if you worked for an on-site company. That can either be a blessing or a curse – it’s easy to let the lack of structure negatively affect your productivity, but with a little effort, you can reverse that phenomenon and make working at home work for you. One simple part of making that effort is to engage yourself, get focused, and build energy by listening to music.
Researchers have proven the amazing effects of music on the brain. It’s one of the few stimulants that engage both hemispheres of your brain, improving your ability to switch between left-brain and right-brain tasks. Ronald Berk of Johns Hopkins University states that music is an obvious choice in terms of finding a tool to engage both hemispheres of your brain. However, there are also benefits to stimulating just one hemisphere of the brain for specific tasks. The following tips will help you decide what to listen to when you’re using the left, right, or both hemispheres of your brain at work.
Left-Brain Tasks & Music
How do you know which hemisphere of your brain is in control when you’re doing certain tasks? Fortunately, Berk has the answers with some research on hemisphere activity. He writes that the left hemisphere is logical and analytical, making it responsible for processing information sequentially in applications like mathematics, logic, and language. It’s also referred to as the verbal side and is structured, factual, controlled, rational, organized, planned, and objective. So as a writer, when you’re engaged with the structure and function of language, you’re predominantly using the left hemisphere of your brain. Editing, proofreading, studying sentence structure, and analyzing grammar are all examples of left-hemisphere activities.
To improve the function of your left-hemisphere brain activity, Berk recommends that you listen to fast, up-tempo music in major keys. It’s also important to use background music that’s unfamiliar to you. Most people start focusing on music instead of work when they recognize a song or piece, so having a long list of new-to-you classical pieces can help you immeasurably. The easiest way to make this happen is to listen to a classical radio station, which you can easily do online. My personal favorite is theclassicalstation.org, which enables you to listen online, via satellite or cable, on partner stations, or on FM radio. You can also use Pandora to generate music that’s similar to a certain piece of music. For example, you could create a station that’s based entirely on Chopin’s Prelude No. 3 in G Major for some fast-tempo music that’s sure to stimulate the left hemisphere of your brain. The majority of solo piano repertoire composed by Mozart, Handel, and Haydn also fits into this category and is easy to find.
Right-Brain Tasks & Music
Where the left hemisphere of the brain is strictly logical, the right hemisphere is exactly the opposite: nonverbal, creative, spontaneous, emotional, disorganized, experimental, empathetic, subjective, intuitive, and relational. It focuses on art, color, pictures, music, and how different objects and/or ideas might be connected. Studies cited by Berk demonstrate that if you’re reading, studying, reflecting, or engaging in creative pursuits, you can benefit from slow music in minor keys. This produces Alpha brain waves, which put you into a relaxed state of awareness and help you to commit content to memory more effectively. When you’re reading for information or collecting sources, music of this type can be particularly helpful. It can also help you maintain your focus and concentration, especially if you listen to slow Baroque-style music – this has been proven effective in the classroom and should translate well to working from home as a freelance writer or blogger.
When using the right hemisphere of your brain for most tasks, you can make a separate Pandora station for slow music in minor keys or purchase recordings of this type of music. You can also try listening to a classical radio station, but there’s no guarantee that the playlist will include mostly slow pieces, so it’s less likely to give you exactly what you want. Try to find music that’s similar to one or more of the following pieces:
- Chopin’s Nocturne in C Minor, Op. 48 No. 1
- Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 60
- Mompou’s Paisajes: 2. El Largo
- Shostakovich’s 2 Pieces for String Quartet: 1. Elegy
Play this music in the background as you work to create a stimulating and enjoyable environment that will help you get your job done, reduce stress, and energize your brain.