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Tips on Using Headphones to Improve Productivity

written by: theMallorys•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 6/25/2010

There are several different ways that you can use headphones to improve productivity. The trick is to figure out what to listen to, so you don’t find yourself distracted. Here are some tips to get you started.

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    Benefits of Headphones

    Man wearing headphones 

    Using headphones to improve productivity is good news if you can’t work without them. If you’ve never considered using them before, thinking it would be distracting, give them a try. There are many ways that headphones can be a life-saver for blocking out noise, and to help you focus on the task at hand.

    Headphones create a barrier between you and your surroundings, which is perfect if you have noisy neighbors, family members, barking dogs or anything else that keeps you from peak performance. The trick is to know how to use them to improve productivity.

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    1. Don’t Listen to Educational Podcasts

    You won’t be able to listen to educational podcasts while being productive at the same time. You’ll stop often to catch a major point, or learn something new, which defeats the whole purpose of using headphones to improve productivity. Educational podcasts are great, especially if it can improve your work, business or life in general. However, save those for when you’re doing chores, and not while you’re working.

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    2. Don’t Listen to a New Album

    The same is true for listening to a new album. Music is great for concentration, and you can get a lot of work done with background music. It will help you “tune" into work that requires a lot of concentration. All of that goes out the window though, when you play a new album. Your brain will automatically want to evaluate the new material you’re listening to. Rather than improving productivity, you’ll be using the headphones to entertain yourself while you should be working. Listen to the new album at least three times through, before you put it on as background music. You’re more likely to stop paying close attention to each song then.

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    3. Listen to Talk Shows You Can Drown Out

    Some people do much better with chatter in the background than they do with music. Talk radio with commercials is great for that. Hosts need to fill up air time and will often use monologues to do that. You’ll find yourself tuning them out during those times to work, and checking back in mentally throughout the show. The commercials aren’t often enticing enough to keep listening, especially if you listen to the same radio station or podcast, and hear the same ones over and over again. If there’s a hot issue being discussed, you can take a break and listen in to get the gist of it, but you may have to shut it off if you can’t tear yourself away from the discussion.

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    4. Minimize Interruptions from Others

    Family members and others are less likely to interrupt you when they see that you’re wearing headphones. It’s a visual barrier that indirectly communicates to others that you don’t want to be disturbed. Using headphones in this way is effective, even if you don’t actually listen to anything.

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    Owning a set of good quality headphones can make a difference. If you can afford it, consider buying noise-cancelling headphones to get the best audio quality possible. Once you get started, you’ll find many other ways of using headphones to improve productivity.

    Image Credit:Mario Alberto Magallanes Trejo