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Office Culture

These 6 Types of Music Are Known to Dramatically Improve Productivity

Just another example of how much you gain by listening.
These 6 Types of Music Are Known to Dramatically Improve Productivity
Image credit: 10'000 Hours | Getty Images
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Serial Entrepreneur
7 min read
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Music isn’t just a means of entertaining ourselves: it can also encourage creativity and help us become more productive. Listening to music can also be therapeutic, relieving feelings of stress so you can concentrate better.

Research has found that certain types of music can be beneficial to us while we work. Some types of music seem to help with learning and improve our ability to process information. Other types help block out distracting background noise. Still other types sync with our brain waves to induce “eureka moments.”

So, if you’re struggling with productivity and want to know what you should be listening to, read on. These are the six types of music that will give you a major boost in productivity.

Related: 12 Ways Millionaires Manage Their Time to Achieve Maximum Productivity

1. Classical Music

Researchers have long claimed that listening to classical music can help people perform tasks more efficiently. This theory, which has been dubbed “the Mozart Effect,” suggests that listening to classical composers can enhance brain activity and act as a catalyst for improving health and well-being. Various studies have confirmed that listening to classical music enhances one's ability to manipulate shapes and solve spatial puzzles.

The absence of words in the music may be one factor, as songs that contain lyrics have been found to be a distraction when you’re trying to focus. And classical music is known for being calming, relaxing and helping reduce stress. This genre of music has been found to help students perform 12 percent better on their exams. Some selections, like Beethoven's “Für Elise,” seem to help students study longer and retain more information.

Here are other few classical selections you can use to boost productivity while working:

2. Nature Music

Listening to the sounds of nature, like waves crashing or a babbling brook, has been shown to enhance cognitive function and concentration. Nature sounds work best when they’re soothing sounds, such as flowing water or rainfall, while more jarring noises such as bird calls and animal noises can be distracting.

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered that natural sounds boost moods and focus. The study found employees were more productive and had more positive feelings when nature sounds were playing in the background while they worked.

This may be because nature sounds helped mask harsher, more distracting noises, such as people talking or typing. Researchers found that workers not only performed better on tasks, but calming nature sounds also had a restorative effect on cognitive abilities.

Here are some selections to try:

3. Cinematic Music

An intense film score can make you feel like you’re doing something inspiring or important, even if you’re just chipping away at your to-do list. A grandiose, epic soundtrack playing in the background may make even the most mundane tasks feel like you’re changing the world, thus heightening your concentration and productivity.

Cinematic music scores can be empowering, lifting your spirits and brightening your mood. So, if you’re feeling tired and drained, try listening to some epic-style cinematic music to give you that extra boost of motivation.

Some great movie scores to try include:

Related: 3 Reasons Why You Should Listen to Music at Work

4. Video Game Music

It might seem strange, but listening to music composed for video games can be a great tool to help you focus. Every element of a video game is designed to create an enhanced gaming experience for all your senses, and the music has been composed specifically to help you focus on your task without being distracted by a cacophony of sounds.

This music generally has no lyrics or human voices and is fairly fast-paced to keep you moving forward. Many of these video games involve solving puzzles and dealing with intense situations, so you’re subjecting yourself to simulated stressful challenges. Video games have invested a lot of resources in figuring out the perfect balance to the music they use.

Video game music is composed in a way that keeps you engaged as you evaluate, navigate and often fight your way through these make-believe worlds. These musical compositions may be just the thing to propel you onward and keep you zooming through your tasks and daily to-do list.

Here are some excellent video game music selections to check out:

5. Music between 50 and 80 beats per minute

Some research suggests that it’s not the type of music that’s important in helping you stay focused and productive, but the tempo of that music. Studies have found that music with 50 to 80 beats per minute can enhance and stimulate creativity and learning.

Dr. Emma Gray, a cognitive behavioral therapist, worked with Spotify to research the benefits of certain types of music. She found that listening to music set in the 50- to 80-beat range puts the brain into an alpha state.

When we’re awake, we’re typically in a state of mind known as beta, a heightened state of alertness where our brain-wave activity is between 14 and 30 HZ. When our brain slows to between 7 and 14 HZ, we’re in a more relaxed alpha state of mind that allows us to be more receptive and open, and less critical. This state of mind is what scientists associate with activities that involve our imagination, memory and intuition, including our “eureka moments.”

If you have ever listened to music that you’re familiar with, only to find yourself deep in thought and not really hearing the music at all, this is an alpha state induced by music. You’re tuning out while being tuned in.

It works best to find songs you’re familiar with and set at 50 to 80 beats per minute. Here’s a playlist of songs in that range, including these popular tunes:

Related: 12 Ways That Music Makes You More Productive At Work (Infographic)

6. Your favorite music

When it comes to tackling projects that you’re not really excited about, it can help to put on music you enjoy. Studies have found that putting on your favorite type of music can improve your mood and productivity.

Teresa Lesiuk, an assistant professor in the music therapy program at the University of Miami, found that personal choice in music is important when deciding what to listen to while working, especially for those who are moderately skilled at their jobs. Her research found that participants who listened to music they enjoyed completed their tasks faster and came up with better ideas than those who didn't because the music helped them feel better and improved their mood.

The only time this didn’t hold true was if the music participants listened to was distracting, such as having a beat that was too fast or lyrics that caught their attention.

So, the next time you need to plow through a mountain of paperwork or stay focused on a task, try turning on your favorite tunes.

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