How to work faster is not always the best question – how to be more productive is usually a better ask, but in going along with the most prevalent line of questioning, let us assume that you have productivity nailed and are now looking to improve your focus and work faster.
Back at the start of the year, we published an article on Medium about how to focus, looking at meditation as a route to achieving a higher state of focus and how reducing the noise in our lives helps us to concentrate on a single task in front of us and how successful multi-tasking is a myth.
We are far more productive when we concentrate on one task for a sustained period of time.
We even published an article on how to drive focus and deliver your resolutions:
Break down resolutions into achievable smaller tasks that begin with a verb.
Work out what is a minimum essential amount of ‘doing’ — so even if you’ve only achieved that, you can sleep better.
Force the ‘Oh Shit’ moment by self-imposing deadlines. Block out time in the diary, see through your minimum task to completion first thing in the morning before you start the rest of your day.From How to drive focus and deliver your resolutions on Medium.com
Taking that one step further, we wrote (loads) on how to write an effective to-do list to drive your productivity.
So let’s assume you’ve meditated, you’ve GTD’d and written your effective to-do list, and now you’re ready to start work. The document is full screen to avoid any further distractions, and we are good to go.
Enter the music.
Working faster using music
Rule number one is quite simple – get rid of the lyrics. Don’t listen to songs with a singer as your brain naturally focuses on the words, processes them to understand the language and uses valuable brain computing power to hear-process-and then not listen. It’s exhausting.
Rule 1. Instrumental only
Next up we need to look at whether you actually need to work faster or just concentrate more deeply.
If it’s deeper concentration you need then pick something like a film soundtrack (without lyrics) or some ambient music. SoundCloud has some fantastic music in the their ambient music chart.
If it’s deep concentration and you are up against an impending deadline then here is the real trick: pick music where the beats per minute are faster than your heartbeat.
It might sound daft to some people or it might sound obvious to you, but you may all recognise the feeling of feeling sleepy listening to slow classical music or feeling energised and jumpy from listening to drum and bass or EDM playing at full volume. (Note, we do not recommend damaging your eardrums form listening to music at full volume).
Think about your resting heart rate – it probably sits around 60-70 beats per minute. When you are exercising or doing something quickly then that heart rate rises to something more like 80-140 beats per minute.
Rule 2: Pick music where BPM > your resting heart rate
It really is as simple as that. Pick some music that raises your heart rate and doesn’t include lyrics to distract you. Something like dubstep, EDM, film-score classical – there is a variety of music that fits the bill.
Oh, and stop reading articles about productivity. Be productive instead.