How to concentrate

Do you like to listen to background music while you’re working?

One of the few things that I remember from my psychology degree is Donald Hebb’s inverted-U diagram on “level of arousal”.

Hebb's diagram

Experiments showed that you could increase your efficiency by increasing arousal, by listening to background music, for example, but only up to a point; if you make the music too intrusive your efficiency starts to fall off.

Personally, I like to listen to (classical) music if I’m doing something mindless, like filing, but I need silence if I have to concentrate. Having said that, I remember years ago listening to music while I was doing my school homework, and concentrating so hard on what I was writing that I missed bits of the music!

This is an experiment that you can easily try for yourself – let me know how you get on!

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