Music has all sorts of incredible effects on us. It can help us relax, get us dancing and make us feel alive! It can also conjure up deeply hidden emotions. But best of all, focus music can help us be productive, especially when a tight deadline means we need a 25 hour day.
The tricky part can be finding the right work music to get you in the mood. With countless options – from Post Malone’s catchy bars to Lady Gaga’s upbeat dance music, it can be hard to find the best playlist to get those creative juices flowing.
Well, science has done all that hard work for us. Several studies found the same results— those who listen to music while working outperformed those who didn’t. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get your headphones out and listen to those beats!
“Music has the potential to take a person from the Beta brainwave state to deeper Alpha, and then Theta brainwave states, depending on the music,” says Dr. Masha Godkin, a professor at Northcentral University.
But not all music helps you become more productive. Listening to Beyonce’s latest album on repeat actually mean you’re not 100 percent focused on your task. Your mind wanders to the familiar lyrics when it should be focusing on the tasks in front of you.
So before you sabotage your productivity by blasting techno in the office, let’s find the perfect concentration music to get you in in the zone and ready to tackle the day ahead!
1. Upbeat focus music for repetitive tasks
If you’re performing routine tasks like inputting data or replying to emails, the best music to listen to is anything with an uptempo beat. This type of upbeat music will keep your energy levels high and therefore, increase focus and productivity levels. Uptempo music has been shown to improve performance, alertness, and precision when completing routine or repetitive actions. Studies recommend listening to this type of music without lyrics, but if it has lyrics, the words should either be familiar or non-obtrusive.
Uptempo or dance music is perfect for these tasks, provided that you don’t need to make many cognitive decisions and solve difficult problems. In those cases, this kind of energy-boosting music may become a distraction. This type of focus music is most effective if it’s introduced periodically at intervals when your concentration is starting to fade. So if you’re just staring at these emails blankly, maybe it’s time to crank up the volume!
2. Minimalist electronic music for problem-solving
In electronic music, “ambient electronica” – and its many sub-genres of chillout, downtempo, drum and bass, dub and more, are all perfect for some background music that is not distracting.
This type of minimalist music blocks out noises and distractions and simultaneously almost fades into the background of your mind. This makes it easy to almost ignore this type of music and focus on solving difficult problems. Ambient electronic is a popular choice among software developers, academics and designers as it helps keep their focus while at work. The links between minimalism and mental well-being have been demonstrated in many different cases. This is precisely why we built Brief as a minimalist productivity app that elegantly combines chat, to-do lists, video calls, and file sharing. Our app is purposely designed not to steal attention from your work (or your music) with unnecessary sounds or alarms. Instead, we want to elevate your work and empower you to have focused and effective days. Getting into a deep state of work has become harder than ever these days, but Brief works together with you to help eliminate those distractions and get more done.
Play some ambient music and consciously think through your tasks on the Brief dashboard to get some focused work done – you’ll experience firsthand how mental clarity and focus leads to a more effective you and more effective teams.
“Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting,” says Brian Eno, creator of Music for Airports.
3. Video game soundtracks for studying
This might raise a few eyebrows, but video game soundtracks have also been shown to help improve focus, productivity, and learning. Video game sound designers deliberately compile soundtracks that evoke emotion in the players without distracting them from the gameplay.
It’s also meant to keep gamers engaged and entertained for long hours while staying absolutely concentrated on their gameplay. That’s why this genre works well when you’re working, as you want to stay focused and committed for a long time without distractions. With some professional players on games like Fortnite making over $300K a year, there might be more similarities to work here than we imagine!
Today’s video game scores are often well produced and vary in tempo and genre. This is not your typical Mario Brothers tune from the 90s. This type of focus music keeps the gamer on their toes as they dodge fire and flawlessly escape their enemies. With these tempo changes, it helps keep your brain alert and focused.
Psychology professor Siu-Lan Tan studied participants performance as they played the game “Twilight Princess (Legend of Zelda).” They found that those who played without the music or sound effects scored lower compared to those who had it on. The bottom line is that if you want to break your high score at work then video game soundtracks might just do the trick.
4. Classical music for analytical work
Do you want to be smarter and have better reasoning skills? Then just listen to Mozart for at least ten minutes a day. That’s what a popular study, called the “Mozart Effect” found. The study separated participants into three groups. One listened to Mozart, the second listened to relaxation music, while the third sat in silence. They were all given the same test, and those who listened to Mozart averaged an eight-to-nine point increase in their IQs, compared to the other groups.
“The take-home message is that music is a very powerful management tool if you want to increase not only the efficiency of your workforce but also their mental state, their emotional state – they’re going to become more positive about the work,” said Dr. David Lewis, a neuropsychologist and chairman of Mindlab International.
Relaxing classical music in the background is an effective tool for concentration. Not all classical music fits the bill, however. Climatic songs like Night On Bald Mountain could pose more of a distraction than anything else. The dramatic fast tempo will captivate your attention away from your work, rather than keeping you focused on the task at hand.
5. Nature noises to block out distractions
Ever wonder why you often can get so much work done at a coffee shop, or when you sit by a window on a rainy day? Or why it’s so relaxing at a spa with beautifully curated background music? The background chatter or nature’s beautiful sound effects all have a positive impact on productivity.
A study found that listening to “natural” sounds can enhance cognitive functioning, improve your ability to concentrate, and boost your mood. The sounds of water trickling down a stream, or the waves crashing on the shore – all these can have a positive and soothing impact. Your mind blocks out other distractions around you as you stay focused on your work and the gentle sound of the birds chirping. Nosili, an online sound mixer, allows you to customize your background noise and find what works for you. It allows you to create your own soundscapes which you can customize either for relaxation of boosting productivity.
What else can help productivity while listening to music?
Companies increasingly use open office layouts in an attempt to tear down physical barriers and inspire team communication and collective creativity. Open office plans can be great for collaborative working environments and allow for flexible working and hot-desking – all great creative stimulants for businesses.
On the flip side, they can also be harder environments to concentrate in at times. This is precisely when we really need our playlists to kick into action and do their focus magic. Pop those headphones on when you are not brainstorming or working in groups and knock out a good hour of productivity with the help of your trusty old buddy — music!
So put on your headphones, block out external noise and put on some focus music for studying and workings to get you into the zone. Another important ingredient for work productivity is to use a smartly designed productivity and communication tool.
If you’re finding it hard to get into a good groove at work, music could very well be the solution. With some upbeat music booming through your headphones, and an effective communication and productivity tool – you are empowered and ready to tackle the day. Keep in mind the type of work you need to tackle and select music that will best match that task.
All that’s left to do is to let your ears guide you to a more pleasant and productive workday. Now you’re ready to focus, rock out and feel amazing!
What are your favorite music genres, songs or playlists to listen to while working? For this month’s blog competition, Share your best concentration music playlist/album (send us a link to your playlist or the name of your favorite concentration album) in the comments section and tell us why these tracks are the best for getting things done! We will also add our favorite submissions to our Focus Music playlist on Spotify.
Monthly winners will get a mention on our social media feeds and win a $40 Amazon gift voucher. Post your stories in the comments section of the blog using #TellUsInBrief.
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Terms & Conditions
- Please submit your entries into the comment section of our blog, under the ‘5 Best Music Genres to Listen to When You Need a 25 Hour Day’ post
- Deadline for entries is November 1st
- Our winners will be announced on November 8th
- The winner will be announced and get a shoutout in a follow-up social post, linking to the blog post, to be posted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin
- Finally, your $40 Amazon voucher will be on its way to you within two weeks after the winner has been announced. Our team will be in touch with you to arrange delivery