In 2007, a research team from Stanford University School of Medicine showed that the areas of the brain involved with updating the event in memory, paying attention and making predictions are engaged when you listen to music. In other words, music helps you focus.
That’s science. Practice confirms it! William Hurst, a writing tutor at Edugeeksclub, says: “Silence is my biggest enemy when I’m trying to focus on a project. When everything is quiet, my thoughts are too loud and confusing. When I play the right music, however, it guides my thoughts into a conscious stream. I’ve recommended many students to listen to instrumental music while working on papers, and it works for most of them.”
How can you turn this finding to your advantage now that you need it the most? When you’re working on the thesis, you have to be more focused than ever. Won’t music be a distraction? What music should you listen to? Do you listen to music while you’re working or before you start? Too many questions, right? Let’s tackle them one by one.
We’ll give you effective tips on how to use music to make yourself more productive when writing a thesis.
1. Choose Instrumental Music
When you’re supposed to choose the music to listen to when writing a thesis, you’ll probably go straight to your favorite bands. No, Coldplay won’t do it. Yes, the music is great, but it will probably get you singing.
You don’t want lyrics in the music you choose since they will distract your attention from the writing process. It’s no wonder why the Stanford Scientists from the research mentioned above used short symphonies by a 18th-century composer.
If you don’t like classical music, you can go for jazz, blues, funk, or electronic music. Choose whatever you like, but make sure it’s purely instrumental.
Why does instrumental music have this effect? We can use the theory of two separate attention networks in the brain to explain that. The conscious attention system enables us to direct the attention towards a precise activity. The unconscious attention system still works, shifting our focus towards the stimuli it picks up from the surroundings. The right kind of music will neutralize the unconscious attention system, so it won’t distract you by trying to detect stimuli. It’s like you’re giving it exactly what it needs, so it won’t bother you with its reactions.
2. Try Nature Sounds, Too!
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute took things further: they showed that a sound masking system influences the effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction of office workers. They showed that the sounds of nature enhanced cognitive functioning and made the workers more focused.
Think about it: how do you feel when you’re high in the mountains or by the sea? There are no artificial sounds. Just nature. If you’re like most people, those sounds make you calm. They reduce the stress levels, and that’s extremely important when you’re trying to work on the thesis project.
3. Pick the Music that Works for You
Not everyone can listen to Beethoven for hours. You can’t force yourself to like the music others say is good for you. Don’t you like it? It’s okay. Pick something you like! Experiment with different natural sounds and genres of instrumental music. Choose the style that works for you. It would be best to keep all tracks in the same vibe, so you won’t get distracted by the changes in dynamics.
4. Create a Long Playlist
You don’t want the music to stop! You’ll get distracted by the change of environment. The last thing you need is a search for a new track in the middle of a paragraph. Create a long playlist that will keep you going. Here are a few suggestions you can try:
Brian Eno – Music for Airports
These ambient sounds are simple, monotonous, and almost boring. This is one of those tunes you like, but don’t care much about. It will relax you without being a distraction.
Pachelbel was a German composer from the 17th century. His music is very calming. Add natural sounds to it, and you have the perfect environment for staying focused.
Slow, calming, and enjoyable – that’s what it is. It’s meant to make people focused, so they can meditate. Writing a thesis is a lot like meditating – you’re focusing your attention on a particular subject and you’re not letting the distractions affect you. That’s the state of mind this music supports.
When you find a track you like, compliment it with others that YouTube suggests. It’s really easy to create a playlist once you have its foundation.
What You Should Expect
The music you choose should help you stay focused. Make an experiment: pick your favorite kind of instrumental music (as long as it’s not too fast and loud) and track your progress with and without it. Are you doing better when you’re listening to the music? If not, change the track. If every music you try makes you more nervous than relaxed, just continue working in silence.
Remember: every student needs a different approach to get focused. This method works for most, so don’t abandon the idea of listening to music while writing the thesis before you try it.
October 27, 2017 at 9:46 am
Hi Antonio, yes silence is also my biggest enemy when I’m trying to focus on a project. The music is the best way to kill this enemy. Really music helps me to focus on my project. Mostly I like to listen to nature sound, because it gives me the stress free environment with freshness. So thanks for sharing your thought with us.