How Focus Music Helps You Improve Productivity (Science-Backed)

written by Dan Silvestre
Focus, Productivity
focus music

Some people need silence to focus. Others, working in silence can make it harder to focus. Do you prefer background noise? One great way to maintain focus is to play music while working or studying. Focus music can make it easier for you to stay on task without pulling your attention away from your work.

But how exactly does music affect the brain and which types of music are best for those who need the noise to focus?

Let’s dive deeper into how it works and how it can benefit you.

How‌ ‌Does‌ ‌Music‌ ‌Affect‌ ‌Our‌ ‌Brain (and Our Body)?‌

Music is often considered a cognitive performance enhancer because it activates both the left and right regions of the brain. This serves to maximize your learning capabilities and improve your memory.

Those who thrive with background noise can improve their performance and enhance their focus when engaged in tasks that need a large amount of mental energy. This is especially true if they already feel burnt out by their previous tasks.

But, music doesn’t only boost your productivity. It impacts certain processes within your body as well.

For example:

Music has the ability to impact bodily functions. It can cause your heart rate to rise or fall, depending on the type of music you are listening to. It can also reduce stress and decrease blood pressure.

This mix of mental and physical effects provides you with the perfect amount of help you need to get through any task.

But what type of music qualifies as “focus music”?

What‌ ‌Types‌ ‌of‌ ‌Music‌ ‌Improve‌ ‌Concentration?‌

Because the effects produced by listening to music vary widely, your choice of music will too.

Let’s take a look at some of the most recommended focus music tracks for your given needs.

  • Tracks‌ ‌With‌ ‌Nature‌ ‌Sounds‌ ‌and‌ ‌Calming‌ ‌Tones. Working on tasks that may produce high levels of stress? Then background music that eases your nerves and keeps you focused is an invaluable tool. Consider looking for music that has calming tones or nature sounds in the background (or both). This will reduce your stress, relax your body, and ensure that you can focus on your tasks with ease.
  • Classical‌ ‌Music. The best music for studying is often considered to be classical music. It makes it easier to focus on difficult tasks and lacks distracting lyrics. Fortunately enough, there are plenty of playlists online that can get you started.
  • Music‌ ‌With‌ ‌a‌ ‌Low‌ Tempo. The issue with music that has a higher BPM and upbeat lyrics is that it can be distracting. After all, jumping up for your desk and belting out the lyrics to the newest pop song will most certainly not result in improved concentration. If you need something calming that keeps you grounded, turn to focus music with a low tempo instead.
  • Music‌ ‌With‌ ‌a‌ ‌High‌ Tempo. You may find yourself engaged in activities that need you to have more energy or increase your mood. If that’s the case, turning to upbeat music with a catchy melody and motivational lyrics may be the right choice for you. Just make sure that the music itself doesn’t get in the way of you accomplishing your goal.
  • Binaural‌ ‌Beats. Binaural beats are often included in focus music playlists. But it’s important to note that there is not enough research to support the benefits of these tones. Put simply, binaural beats are sound waves designed to affect the brain by delivering different tones to your ears via headphones. It is said that binaural beats can improve focus, reduce stress, and promote relaxation.

Recommendations for New Users of Focus Music: What Should I Listen to?

focus music playlists

Unless you have a go-to playlist of music that proves to be effective for all your work efforts, it’s great to have some starting points.

To help you get started, here are a few personal recommendations that will assist you in your efforts!

Focus Music: Classical

Some people will say that classical music is all the same, but that is simply not true. Classical can range from high tempo and exciting to low tempo and emotional.

It can also evoke feelings and emotions that you may not experience when you are listening to everyday music on the radio.

Some of the most popular composers are Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Vivaldi, just to name a few.  You might need to experiment to find your ideal composer and sound. But there are more than enough playlists available online to get you started.

Focus Music: Nature Sounds and Calming Tones

When it comes to nature sounds and nature music, there are plenty of ways you can get your daily dose of focus music.

Do you prefer nature sounds on their own? Then use online playlists to listen to the sounds of brooks, storms, beaches, forests, or other areas where calming sounds are abundant. Often, these playlists will incorporate calming instrumentals that further enhance the experience.

These tracks are often used as meditation tracks, although you can find pure nature music as well.

Focus Music: Upbeat Tracks

Upbeat music is great for workout sessions and other high-energy tasks. This type of music can be difficult to select or recommend as it will rely on your personal taste in music.

For example:

Some people may want to listen to some rock songs to get them through their workout. Others may prefer playlists with hip hop tracks or ones that have a lot of EDM and pop music.

No matter your preferred source of inspiration, you can find a playlist that works best for your needs. Or you can develop your own personal focus music playlist over time.

Focus Music: Calming Tunes

The biggest issue with upbeat music is that it can be distracting when you are attempting to focus on a task. For work that requires intense focus and concentration (see: Deep Work), listen to slow music.

Keep in mind that this type of music can either consist of slow songs or instrumental playlists without lyrics.

As long as you feel like you are grounded with the playlist, it will be instrumental in helping you focus on your tasks.

For Those Curious About Binaural Beats

It’s important to remember that binaural beats do not provide instant focus.

Often, you will come across titles for binaural beats that will tell you that you can have “superintelligence” or “quantum focus” if you use the track while you are trying to work or study. If you start listening to a piece that promises you these qualities, don’t fall for any of their deceptive statements. There isn’t enough research on these kinds of tones to come to a conclusion on whether they work.

That said, these types of beats can be quite relaxing to listen to even if we can’t be sure that they are helpful in increasing our focus.

There are plenty of these beats online that you can choose from if you like binaural beats. Just make sure that you are using either earbuds or headphones when you are listening to binaural beats. These beats are designed to be listened to on headphones rather than speakers.

Motivation Vs. Concentration: How to Best Select Your Focus Music

When you begin‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌music‌ ‌playlist‌ ‌or‌ ‌curating‌ ‌one‌ ‌of‌ ‌your‌ ‌own,‌ ‌you‌ ‌should‌ ‌do‌ ‌your‌ ‌best‌ ‌to‌ ‌ensure‌ ‌that‌ ‌you‌ meet‌ ‌your‌ ‌personal‌ ‌needs.‌

Generally, there are‌ ‌two‌ ‌places‌ ‌where‌ ‌you‌ ‌are‌ ‌going‌ ‌to‌ ‌use‌ ‌music ‌to‌ ‌enhance‌ ‌your‌ ‌focus:‌ ‌the‌ ‌gym‌ ‌and‌ ‌your‌ ‌workspace (or wherever you are choosing to sit down and doing your work or studying).‌

If you’re looking to focus on your workout or engage in other high-energy activities, your playlist will likely consist of upbeat, motivational music.

If you are looking for study music or the best music to be productive, you are going to want to consider slower music that plays in the background without taking you away from your tasks.

Keep these needs in mind as you look for music that will help you achieve your level of focus.

If you choose the wrong genre, you may end up harming your productivity levels rather than boosting them.

Remember, Music Is Only Another Tool in Your Arsenal

focus music for work

Music can be a helpful tool if it allows you to improve your focus.

However, you must remember that it is only a tool and not a total solution. While you are listening to music, you should also use your other productivity tricks at the same time. This could include:

  • Eating healthy, energy-boosting snacks
  • Taking occasional breaks while you are working on a task
  • Staying away from distractions like your phone or fun websites
  • Working in a quiet, stress-free environment

If you rely on focus music to do all the work for you, you are setting yourself up for failure!

Field Notes

To get the most out of focus music, you have to: 

  1. Learn How Focus Music Works. Understand how music can affect your brain and your body (and how you can leverage those changes to your advantage).
  2. Choose Your Music. Your choice in music will depend on your personal preferences and what is most effective for your given situation. Take the time to look through the categories of music that you would like (classical music, nature sounds, upbeat music) to find what works best for you. 
  3. Sit Down and Get to Work. Let your playlist run through all the available tracks as you work through the things you need to get done! If you choose your music right, you should have no problem making sure that you cross everything off of your to-do list. 

Using music to improve your focus and boost your productivity can be quite effective.

If you are looking for focus music that will help you get through today’s to-do list with ease, use the guide above to learn more about why music can be an effective tool for productivity and exactly what types of music you will need to listen to in order to get the most benefits from your playlist.

Thanks for reading!

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