Music, Cows & Productivity

Many (pre-vegan) moons ago, I visited a small dairy farm in Wisconsin.   Danny, the farmer, was obsessed about finding creative and caring ways to increase his cows’ milk productivity.

What struck me was how clean his barn was – and yes, he experimented with messy vs clean surroundings for his coveted cows and found that clean yielded calmer and therefore more productive cows.   He also had the temperature set at 76 degrees, but with fans set up in specific locations and blowing at scheduled intervals.

He also perfected the number of times and when the cows could feed outside on the grass, added supplements to their feed, had them exercise at regular intervals, had them massaged and well cared for and had a few more controls that he tinkered and tweaked to improve their production.

The most surprising variable that he integrated into his system was music.


Well, why not?  If we respond to music, why wouldn’t they?  After trying many types of music styles on his herd, he found that they responded poorly to heavy metal and loud rock music and best to classical in the morning and jazz in the afternoon.  So, that got me thinking…

What Styles of Music Make Us Most Productive?

Of course, musical preference is highly personal, but study after study shows us that music can greatly impact our productivity positively or negatively.   Here are some fascinating results.

  1. For Repetitive Tasks: Go for music with an upbeat tempo.  That stimulates energy, heightens focus and can elevate your mood.
  2. For Work That Requires BrainPower: This is where things get interesting.  Researchers found that music that integrated sounds of nature in them or just sounds of nature, improved cognitive function and increased focus and overall sense of calm.    Researchers also found that classical music was also very effective for focused thinking.  The two styles that were most effective were baroque (try Scarlatti and Bach) and classical (try Haydn and Mozart).
  3. For Creative Projects: The best go-to music is music without lyrics, music that inspires you, but doesn’t distract you.  The most effective styles include Classical (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven) Romantic Classical (Schumann, Chopin, Rachmaninoff) Ambient or New Age (with no dominant rhythm) and big band music.

But there’s more.

  • Make sure to listen to music you like.  Music is a powerful tool to enhance your mood, mindset and productivity.
  • Make sure the volume is not too loud so that you don’t overpower your own thinking.
  • When you need to focus or create, opt for music without lyrics as they are distracting.
  • To lower stress levels, slow down the tempo, soften the sounds and choose music that is mellow in style.
  • If you use earbuds or earphones, make sure not to crank up the volume and remember to give your ears a rest.

And remember….

Silence is also important for productivity and focus.  Listening to music throughout the day can backfire.  Experiment with which tasks work best with different musical styles and when good old quiet time is needed.

I’d love to hear what works best for you in the comments!

Until the next time!




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