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What Listening to Music at Work Does to Your Brain

Music has influenced human behavior practically since the dawn of time and it continues to influence both our lives and our feelings every day. Some people listen to music to gain inspiration, some listen to it to improve their mood, while some listen to it to channel their inner rage, when reality becomes too harsh to bear. Nevertheless, music helps people in various situations, but the question is why do we find music so appealing?

The main reason is that music affects our brains by stimulating the neurons (nerve cells) to produce dopamine, also known as a “feel good chemical”, which induces the feeling of pleasurable and rewarding stimuli. Simply put, it’s what makes you feel good, happy and motivated. That’s why listening to music in various situations can affect your mood, especially in situations that have a tendency to become quite stressful, such as working. Let’s check out what listening to music while working does to your brain.

Improves motivation and productivity

Listening to music helps people deal with repetitive mundane tasks much easier. Repetitive tasks, such as reading or answering emails, tend to become quite overwhelming even if they’re not complex by nature. As mentioned before, listening to music we like helps produce neurotransmitters that make us feel good. These feelings help people perform tasks more efficiently and with fewer mistakes, while giving them the sense of accomplishment.

source: Pexels

In short, music helps motivate people to complete tasks faster as their brain compensates them with a sense of reward. For example, if you finish your daily tasks faster, you’ll have more free time and your brain will make you feel good with a sense of accomplishment, while listening to music will motivate you to strive towards that feeling. Moreover, studies have shown that music also improves productivity, helping you be more efficient at your work. That’s why you will feel like spending $10 on creating your own playlist on Spotify is a good investment that will help you become more productive.

Escape from a noisy office

Crowded office spaces can get too noisy and therefore too distracting. Trying to eliminate the noise and focus on work can be next to impossible. As a matter of fact, your brain will try to make sense of the coworker chatter and other noises in the office whether you’re aware of it or not. This brain function takes a lot of energy. Not to mention that it increases the levels of cortisol in your brain, which is a stress-inducing hormone, and reduces the levels of dopamine.

source: Pixabay

This will make you less productive and more agitated at work. However, listening to music can help cancel out the noise and, although you might play your favorite YouTube or Deezer playlists in the background, unfortunately it won’t be enough to eliminate the noise completely. You can, however, plug in your in-ear headphones and eliminate the outside noise altogether. That way you can listen to your favorite music and focus on work.

Improves creativity and accuracy

Even if you’re good at something, listening to music can make you even better. As an example, surgeons always listen to music and playlists on Spotify, to help them focus and make them more accurate when performing complex surgeries. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association conducted a study in which they found out that surgeons performed more accurately when they were listening to the music they preferred. Also, the music they didn’t prefer was the second best, while not listening to music was of no help at all.

That means that if you listen to the music you prefer you’ll be more focused, productive and less likely to make a mistake, even though you’re already good at what you’re doing. Furthermore, studies have shown that reasonable noise levels coming from music can inspire creativity during brainstorming and creative sessions. It seems that the ambient music playing in the background is extremely helpful and works best for your creativity, but only if it’s not too low- or too high-pitched noise.

Interferes with the learning process

With all the positive effects music has on our brains, one would think there aren’t any downsides. Sadly, when it comes to learning new information, listening to music can be too distracting and counterproductive. The main reason is that when learning new information, your brain has to process and memorize that new information.

source: Flickr

However, when you add music to the equation, your brains has to process additional auditory information alongside information you’re trying to comprehend and memorize. This multitasking activity in your brain may cause information to be stored inadequately or cause you to have trouble remembering what’s important.  This is especially true if the music you listen to contains lyrics. Therefore, if you’re about to learn something new at work, set aside your music until you learn it.

Music is one of the most creative inventions humanity has ever created. It influences our mood and emotions, while enriching our lives. It even helps us be more efficient, focused and productive at work, where normally some days, people are anything but. So, why not give in to the joy of music? After all, it makes our lives a lot better.

Oscar Waterworth – a digital nomad, writer and senior editor at BizzmarkBlog. By working with product development teams for nearly a decade now, he has gained a great deal of insight on remote team management and project operations in the startup sphere.

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3 Things to be Thankful for During Construction Season

In the Northwest corner of the United States, we have four seasons. We love them all, almost. These are not the seasons you were taught in school. They are fall, winter, spring, and construction season.

That’s right. The fourth season, known in some places as summer, is marked by orange cones, hard-hat wearing shovel leaners, and flashing yellow lights that mean one simple thing: you’re not going anywhere fast.

From “Lane Closed Ahead” to “Flagman Ahead, Expect Delays” the signs decorate the sides of nearly every road. The winters are hard, and the time to repair the damage such a small window, it seems unavoidable. If the roads don’t get fixed, we complain. While they are being fixed, we complain just as much. Here are three things to be thankful for this Construction Season.

Modern Windshields

Okay, yeah. A rock chip in your window sucks, and you will get them during construction season. It is simply a matter of when not if. Carrying glass coverage on your vehicle in our area is like carrying water in the summer: you just have to do it.

Think of it this way though: cars did not always have the best windshields. Early ones would shatter if struck by even a small rock, cutting all the occupants inside. Henry Ford got sued a few times over tragic accidents, and then things changed.


The modern use of laminated glass similar to that of your cell phone screen means windshields are safer than they have ever been and even contribute a great deal to the structural integrity of your car.

So next time you curse a rock chip, just be thankful the whole windshield did not land in your lap and cut your arms to shreds. If you do get a chip or even small crack, find a local glass replacement dealer, and get it fixed. That’s what you pay all that money to your insurance company for.

 Air Conditioning

That same windshield that keeps out the road debris and doesn’t shatter in your lap holds in one important thing: air conditioning. We can control our climate even as we roll down the road at 70 miles an hour, but it becomes even more important when we are whizzing by orange pylons at 15.

It used to be that running your air conditioning when at a standstill was a death sentence for your car’s cooling system. Modern vehicles, if well maintained, can handle this task, although you should still be cautious in extreme temperature climates like Vegas, Phoenix, or the small desert towns in-between.



 Air conditioning also used to be bad for the environment until we started using R-134a instead of R-12. Those systems have gotten better since their introduction, although idling in a construction zone is still not best for the trees around you, and you might want to save them. Otherwise, where will you run hide to use the restroom when you can’t wait any longer and traffic is still not moving.

Despite its limitations, air conditioning is better than rolled down windows and stealing ice from the cooler to put down your shirt (or elsewhere).

Digital Music

Remember when you would get out into the middle of nowhere, and your radio would get crackly and fuzzy? Or when you would reach the part of Wyoming where they had both kinds of music stations, country and western, and that was all? Unless you had an extensive collection of first 8 tracks, then cassettes, then CDs, you were sunk. It was either listen to the kids squabble, actually talk to each other (gasp!), or suffer in silence.

Now, all our music is digital, and we can transport thousands of songs, an actual music library on our phones or other devices. We can connect them to the car radio in several ways, even using an FM transmitter and creating our own radio station of sorts.

This means everyone can have their own device as well. Dad can put his tunes on the radio, and mom and the kids can listen to whatever they want using headphones or other devices in the passenger and back seats without argument.

With all the complaining we do about construction season, we need better roads, and we can also be thankful for those who fix them for us. While we hate the hours of sitting in line with other cars, we can count our blessings that we are not driving cars with dangerous glass (or worse, with none at all), we have air conditioning, and we can take our music with us rather than being at the mercy of local radio.

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History for Sale: The Inspiration of Blue October

Learning to love life by living through loss and mistakes, lessons learned and gradually surfacing, letting go, stripping naked to scream. I am not perfect nor do I strive to be. I am alive in this world of face first falls and public breakdowns. I am a retarded disfigured clown dying to be heard for the simple art of letting this heavy wall finally fall. I am an equal being of no race or color, a hallucination if you will sneaking into the lives of strangers and letting them fall apart to a new rhythm just to feel better.

–“Retarded Disfigured Clown”, Blue October

Home album coverI am not a die-hard fan of very many things. My interests tend to wander and vary with my mood and where I am in life. Yes, I am a fan of Stephen King, but mainly because of his style of writing. Same with Dean Koontz and John Irving. But as far as bands go, I am pretty ambivalent with few exceptions.

Every now and then, though, a band or an artist comes along who touches you. Then, if their journey at all parallels yours, and you just can’t help but follow along. That’s what happened to me with Blue October.

Let me preface this by saying I was somewhat late to the party. I didn’t get introduced to the band formally until they were well into their career. Even though I had distantly heard of them, I didn’t really listen other than their more popular stuff. Then I started to listen to entire albums and learned more about front man Justin Furstenfeld’s story. From depression to addiction to divorce, he has been very open both personally and through his music about his journey. His lyrics are both insightful and unique, and the blend of instruments appeals to me.

So I not only bought albums. I went to concerts. Bought Justin’s book and loved it. When he came out with his Songs from an Open Book album, I loved hearing him articulate his story, and was sorry to miss the live performance. What do his journey and mine have in common though?

Independently Happy

One of the first songs I connected with, I knew deep down I needed to learn this lesson: I needed to make sure my happiness was not linked to someone else’s, but instead was based on my own feelings. To be honest, I am still mastering this. For me, it is a daily struggle.


So Justin’s addictions were much more conventional than mine. I was addicted to work, and often used alcohol as an escape. However, addiction involves the same battle, and I acknowledge that while I am a recovering workaholic, I still struggle. And there are times when I am tempted to use alcohol as an escape.

Quiet Mind

I hide it well, sometimes. But looking back in pictures I can see in my eyes and my face when I was depressed and just unstable. My mind was all over the place. When I couldn’t or didn’t write to get that restlessness out, there were times when I literally felt insane.

I really wanted, more than anything, a quiet mind. So when I heard this song, I nearly broke inside. Finally, I knew someone else felt like I did. It emphasized to me something I am still learning: mental health is as important or more so than physical health, and I need to put it first.

Any Man in America

This whole album. Damn. I was headed for divorce and knew it well before it actually happened. It would be my second one, and truly I felt like there was something wrong with me. Of course, there was. But I didn’t yet know what it was. I just knew I felt torn up and broken, like a failure.

Through this album, I saw glimpses of my own pain, and that what was happening to me also happened to others. In fact, it could happen to Any Man in America.


The source of all my issues, my mental illness, and really the problem with the majority of my relationships that fell apart? Fear. It varies from the writer imposter syndrome and the fear someone will discover any day I am a hack and not really any good at this at all, to the fear that I am inadequate in any number of roles.

This has been fueled by many unhealthy relationships around me where I have faced criticism instead of constructive feedback. I am still learning to be bold, more assertive, and less timid; I am learning to live without fear.

History for Sale

Justin writes music to express his story. I write books. Both of our histories are for sale, in one format or another. Writing, expressing ourselves through art is our therapy and how we survive. Having that history out there, consumable by anyone who chooses to pick it up, is frightening in some ways and healing in others.

Think about this. though, before you criticize the work of another.You might just be tearing down something really personal they have shared. It’s okay if you don’t like it, but how you express that can make a huge difference in how they respond.


Over the last year, I have been in the greatest relationship of my life. Challenging for sure, but life changing. I have a woman who not only loves me for who I am but wants me to be the best I can be, so offers me constructive feedback and support. It has been amazing.

It is more than just being in love. It’s so much deeper, and something I never thought I would experience.  I am married again, but this time, it feels different. Real.

I have to confess, I like almost all of Blue October’s music. There are a couple of songs on the new album that I don’t like as much as I have the rest of their music. Those are nit-picky things. Maybe I don’t relate to those as well.

I do know this. I love music, and much of it has influenced and changed my life, but no single artist has had as much impact, yet, as Blue October.

Maybe that will change as we both continue to grow.

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Writing to Music

Do you write to music? I do, often a variety depending on my mood. Today a few friends and I talked about it over on Red River Radio. You can stream the show here:

Below are my answers, with appropriate video links. The links can all be found in my rather schizophrenic YouTube playlist here.

Were any of your books inspired by a song? If so, which? Not specifically. A story in Broken Bones titled Amnesia was inspired (and includes lyrics from) the song Amnesia by Blue October.

Wish I could wake up with amnesia

Try to forget the things that I’ve done.

I wish I knew how to keep the promises

that I have made you.

But life I guess it goes on. . .


Do you find yourself including music within your books? Yes. There are several scenes in Temptation with music where it is used for both hypnosis and celebration. One of the final scenes involves a Mustang, Credence, and a car crash.

Do you use music for mood, pacing, etc in your novels? The music I listen to? Yes. I listen to quite a variety depending on what kind of scene I am writing.

Have you taken a song title for a book title? Nope. Never will I want the reader to use their imagination. I might include part of the song, or a snippet of lyrics, but I want my books to stand on their own, not be connected to whether someone likes a song or not, or even knows it to associate the book with it. A short story, maybe. But a book? No.

Are any of your characters musicians? In Temptation Gordon is a violinist. Other than that, no. That may change in an upcoming work, but it is hard for me to write musicians well as characters because I am not one. I love music, but when it comes to making it, I am very mechanical.

Do your characters’ musical tastes reflect yours? Yes and no. I don’t emphasize them in my books. They might listen to certain things on the radio. The struggle is, my musical taste is wide, eccentric and varied. The difference between life and fiction is that fiction has to make sense. No one would believe a character that has musical taste like mine.

What kind of music do you listen to when you write? Totally depends on the mood. I’ve posted a playlist, and I always say if you rooted through my computer, my music player, my phone, you still wouldn’t know what my favorite kind of music was.

Is there any type of music you will absolutely not ever listen to? I never say never, but I am not an old country, twangy, I lost my dog type person. It certainly doesn’t ever inspire writing for me. But I will listen to me some Big and Rich. Those guys are like the hair bands of the ‘80’s to country. The modern sex, drugs, and Rock and Roll.

Some authors make playlists for every book. Have you done that? Nope. My books are as musically schizo as I am. So I doubt anyone would want t listen even if I did. I did create a video for the Samuel Elijah Johnson Series, and there are several songs by Within Temptation that fit the book Temptation.

What are some of your favorite musicians? If we did this question by decade, genre, or style it would not be any easier. It varies from day to day. Some of my current favorites are Blue October, the indie artist from Texas David Ramirez, Disclosure, Daft Punk, Jean Michael Jarre, Giorgio, The Kinfe, Mumford and Sons, Joe Satriani, Rush, Floyd, and I am on a classical/opera kick early in the mornings.

If you had the chance to put together the perfect band, who would be in it? (Drums, vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard) What is your favorite instrument in the band?

    • Drummer: Rick Allen, Def Leopard, Great Drummer, great story. Unless Miss Margery was available.
    • Voacals: Male: Freddie Mercury, #1. Female: I’ll be contrary and say Lzzy Hale of Halestrom. They are not the greatest band by any stretch, but for female rock vocalists she has to  be in the top few. Below you will see her and another of my favorites, Amy Lee doing a duet.

  • Guitar: Living: Joe Satriani or Slash Dead: Randy Rhodes hands down, Steven Clarke (formerly of Def Leopard) a close second.
  • Bass: Geddy Lee. Don’t Hate. Appreciate
  • Keyboards: Keith Emerson, ELP
  • Violin-Multi-Instrument: Ryan Delahoussaye

If you were stuck on a dessert island and had only one album to listen to, what would it be? (Yes, this assumes you had unlimited power but no wi-fi) Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon or Daft Punk Discovery. Whatever was in the CD player at the time of the crash. Both all around great albums I can listen to over and over.

Do you ever get songs stuck in your head that simply won’t go away? How do you purge them? Yep. I sing them, play them on the air drums, or both. A little chair dancing never hurts.

I hope you enjoyed the show and all of my answers. Rock on and write on, not necessarily in that order.

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