‘Say no to radio’: How I use music and sounds to work

16 Apr 2019,
By Georgina W., Student at University of Bristol

If you’re anything like me, you can’t work in silence. I sit there with 10 different books open in front of me not actually reading any of them, because the silence is somehow too loud for me to focus. So I look for ways to break the silence.

I tried having the TV on, but it gets a little distracting. I either end up engrossed in the action and not doing any work, or working hard and missing the action. So, I turn to music. Studies have shown that music can help with focus, especially during study sessions.

Here’s how I make sure my music helps, rather than hinders, the process.

Playlists playlists playlists

Don’t just put some music on shuffle and roll the dice. Make a playlist so you know exactly what is going to play and you don’t have to keep stopping every 3-5 minutes to change songs.

Try a different playlist for each module you take and then, before your exam, listen to the playlist again - it might just give your brain a trigger for the information you need.

You can also make the playlists a certain length (say, 50-60 minutes), and then the end of the playlist will remind you to take a break, have a snack, or get up and walk around.

Related: Can music help you study? Here’s what student Kacey thinks

Know your music

If I’m using songs with lyrics in, it’s very easy to get distracted by it. So I make sure I know the music I’m playing inside and out. This way the music can become background noise.

If you are playing songs you don’t know, your brain will be listening and trying to learn the lyrics and rhythm, rather than focusing on your studies.

Say no to radio

You might be tempted to put on the radio or a podcast so you don’t have to spend time choosing what to listen to. But don’t!

Every time the host interjects you will get distracted by what they are saying. It’s much better to spend a little more time choosing your songs. Which leads me to my next point…

Manage your time wisely

Please don’t spend too long choosing what you’re going to listen to. That, my dear friends, is procrastination.

Related: How to stop procrastinating and get your work done

Make friends with classical music

Why not completely skip the lyrics and go for some classical music? If you’ve never listened to it before, maybe you see it as outdated or boring. But I think classical music is a very exciting genre, and it doesn’t hurt that there have been studies suggesting that listening to Mozart makes you smarter.

Try this Relaxing Classical playlist on Spotify to get started.

Use sounds rather than songs

Natural sounds, such as a strong rainfall or gently breaking waves, while not strictly music can be calming and act as white noise. It can be used to ease stress and anxiety, which, as we all know, can be rampant around exam season. It can also improve your concentration.

Here’s a Rain Sounds playlist on Spotify - give it a go.

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By Georgina W.
Student at University of Bristol