How to Use Music for Productivity

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Anyone who has ever put on a pair of headphones at the gym or switched on a radio at the office knows that music can have a powerful impact on our productivity. But, what kind of playlist is best for maximum concentration and focus? Should we be jamming to Lizzo or bopping to Beethoven?

Here are some tips for turning your favorite songs into effective tools for a more productive — and all around happier — workday:

Consider Your Project When Choosing Your Music 

Even the most ardent music lovers will often find that songs with lyrics can be extremely distracting while writing, reading, or doing other activities that involve language. In fact, a 2012 study found that background music with lyrics was distracting enough to negatively affect a worker’s performance and attention. Major bummer. 

Of course, everyone’s different, and if you’re able to stay mentally engaged while listening to your favorite lyrical tunes, keep it up! However, if you find that your mind is trying too hard to focus on the words of the song (or if you just want to sing along!), then you might want to save those songs for non-writing or language-related activities. 

Tune Into Nature 

Nature sounds are both soothing and shown by research to be extremely helpful for productivity. When compared with traditional music, the unpredictability of nature sounds is considered good for our focus. The sound of crashing ocean waves or falling rain boosts your mood and elevates your productivity without distracting you from the task at hand. Plus, nature sounds drown out typical office sounds like keyboard clacking and co-worker phone calls. 

Looking for some quality nature sounds? Check out this nature sounds playlist on Spotify. 


Reclaim the Classics

Just like nature sounds, classical music doesn’t have lyrics and can boost your productivity without demanding your cognitive attention. Try this beautiful productive morning playlist or listen to some jazz in the background.  


Turn Up Your Favorite Songs

If your task isn’t overly focused on language, go ahead and turn on your favorite songs, with or without lyrics. Listening to music that you love not only lowers your stress levels, but it can also motivate you to do your best. Surgeons have even been shown to perform faster and more accurately when they listen to any music, but especially songs that they choose and enjoy. 

If a song is extremely familiar to you, you’re also less likely to get distracted by the music, even if the song does involve lyrics. This is because your brain knows what to expect from your old standby and isn’t distracted by the new sounds. 


Working Out or Needing More Motivation? Pump Up the Jam

When you need an extra dose of motivation, go ahead and reach for an upbeat tune. These upbeat pop instrumentals are so much fun and will help you launch full steam ahead into your day. Doing a task where you aren’t bothered by lyrics? Check out these upbeat pop hits


The Power of Sound

As humans, we seem built to respond to music. Whether you’re working, studying, working out, or even just relaxing at home, the right music playlist can elevate your mood and increase your productivity. So, go ahead and explore apps like Spotify, iHeartRadio, Apple Music, and other varieties on your phone. Of course, you can also listen to an old school radio for a little comforting nostalgia. 

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