How Listening to 'Focus Music' Can Improve Your Productivity at Work

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Listening to music while working may sound harmless. But listening to the wrong music can detriment your productivity.

By Ahmed khalifa
Header image for blog post about listening to Focus Music when working

Picture the scene – you sit down at your desk, open up the browser and Excel, the hubbub of the office noise around you going on in the background, and you are about to start going through your to-do list.

Except, you can't...because you just don't feel like doing anything.You do what everyone else says, you go for a walk, try the various productivity methods out there, break down your tasks in bite-size...and still nothing.

So you put on the headphones, stick on your choice of music, you're in a zone and you're ready to go.It's amazing what music can do to boost your motivation.

If you go to most modern workplaces, you will find many employees with their headphones on. It's clear that music is not just part of our daily personal lifestyle, but within our professional environment too.

It is one thing listening to your favourite tunes to help motivate you, make the time go by faster and make those boring task more fun.

But it's another if you are listening to music which is there to help you focus more and be more productive at work.

The Science Behind Using the Right Productivity Music

Music has the power to have an impact on many aspects of life such as reducing stress, decreasing anxiety and working out harder.But listening to music at work is different and has a different kind of benefits.

A study carried out by the University of Birmingham in England has found that there is a:

"relationship between the playing of background music during the performance of repetitive work and efficiency in performing such a task"

So if you are mindlessly doing repetitive tasks such as filling out a spreadsheet and checking emails, listening to some tunes can help the time to go by faster.

But it's a different story when it comes to doing the tasks that require a bit more brainpower than just refreshing your inbox.

For example, listening to lyrics-based music while doing the mundane tasks is beneficial, but not so much for those intensive tasks.

This is because any "noise" from chatter and music where you can clearly hear and understand them is actually a distraction, according to various studies.

Man with headphones working on a computer

If your brain is constantly shifting focus from your intensive work to processing what you have heard, the general chatter is seen as a huge distraction in a workplace.

Add that to the sound of keyboards hammering, phones ringing and loud laughter, it's no wonder that a lack of sound privacy is found to be the biggest frustration to an employee...and that is not good for their productivity and the company morale.

White noise and natural background sounds are also a popular choice.

One particular group of researchers have found that those types of sounds can help boost your moods and focus as well as mask those speech sounds, improve concentration and enhance cognitive functioning.And using tools like Noisli is a great way to create your own natural background that suits you.

Noisli demonstration to create your own natural background sound
How you can blend and adjust your own natural background sounds on Noisli

How you can blend and adjust your own natural background sounds on Noisli

But if you want the creative sweet spot, the right amount of ambient and atmospheric noise can get your creative juices flowing...and that's where Spotify's 'Focus' music genre and the public playlists curated by others can help.

Using the 'Focus' Genre on Spotify

I am an avid user of Spotify while I work. But I specifically (and deliberately) use the 'Focus' genre to help me with my productivity.In fact, I use this genre more than any other available on Spotify.If you haven't used 'Focus' before, you might be pleasantly surprised about what it has to offer.

Use the 'Focus' genre on Spotify to uncover lots of focus music choices[/caption]The Focus genre consists of playlists created by Spotify for various scenarios and in different themes – from acoustic melody to ambient music and to electronic tunes.

This is perfect for those who want to listen to specific types of music while working but also improving work efficiency.

And as you can see above, it's not just for office workers, but for anyone who needs to concentrate on a particular task, like students who are studying for exams or those who want to read a book.

Other Ways to Find The Right Focus Music For You

While on Spotify, why don't you create your own choice of ambient and background music playlist?Perhaps there is a specific theme that you want to focus on.

For example, I have made my own playlists which include background music from popular movies, TV series and video games.

And as someone who is a bit of fanatic of the Final Fantasy video game franchise, I have a dedicated playlist for that too.

But the idea is that you should find the right type of music that suits you, as it doesn't have to be boring.So you never know, perhaps the music from Jurassic Park, Band of Brothers and Assassin's Creed could motivate you to work more efficiently.

Many of these music choices are a combination of ambient and classical, a great combination as the ambiance is for the creativity and classical music also has a number of benefits too like better memory and more alertness.

My personal focus music playlist on Spotify which features movie soundtracks
My personal Spotify playlist includes music soundtracks from various films

And if you can't be bothered making your own playlist, there are a huge number of public playlists that do a great job, such as Instrumental Pop Cover, epic Movie Soundtracks and Video Game Soundtrack, which have almost 24 hours of music...each.

You just have to search and find the right playlist for you.Another option is to go directly to YouTube and start typing for "productivity music" or "focus music" and you will find an endless number of "videos" which offer background music of your choice.

Searching for 'productivity music' on YouTube

Searching for "focus music" alone on YouTube brings up a total of 27,800,000 results at the time of writing.So if you can't find the right one for you within almost 28 million results...then you are just being picky.

It's tempting to put on some upbeat, high-tempo music which keeps you entertained while you are working.And you might think that it is actually helping you as you feel more enthusiastic and more motivated as you go about your day-to-day tasks.

But the evidence and research suggest that it is counter-effective and you may be unknowingly working at a slower and more distracted pace than you actually think.

So resist the urge and use the resources out there to find the right music that can boost your work efficiency.

And watch your to-do list dramatically decrease as a result.I would love to know what's your go-to type of music when you are working? Let me know in the comment below.

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