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What music should I listen to at work?

Updated on July 5, 2016

Do you ever have the problem when you are work and want to listen to music but don't know what kind of music to choose in order to still perform work and not get distracted? I know I have because it seems that I end up paying too much attention to the music instead of my work. So how do you choose the right background music?

It has been said that listening to Mozart makes a person smarter, but it is not only classical music in general that boosts mental activity. Workers seem to perform better when listening to music and they complete their fastest work when music is playing. The message that people want to get across is that music is a very powerful management tool if you want to increase not only the efficiency of your workforce but also your mental state and emotional state because then you are going to become more positive about the work. Music can be effective in increasing efficiency when you are performing a repetitive task such as if you are mindlessly checking emails or filling out a spreadsheet, turn your playlist on and it will get you through that to do list so much faster. But when it comes to tasks that require more brainpower, it is much harder to find that perfect playlist. Everyone's musical tastes vary. Songs that motivate me to get work done, may not be the best for you, which makes it difficult to pinpoint music that could work for everybody.

Here's what I came up with for my opinion on what you should listen to at work:

Classical music if your work involves numbers or attention to detail because it is not a distracting genre of music since there is usually no words so you are able to focus on the work more while still having background music. It seems that workers are better at solving math problems or other intense problems when listening to classical music and I think it is the best genre for general accuracy as well.

Pop music if your work involves data entry or working to deadlines because it is more upbeat and will get you pumped up to work faster in order to reach the deadline.

Music that includes the sounds of nature can add a natural element to your work environment and could boost moods and drive to focus. Sounds of nature can improve your ability to concentrate and increase satisfaction because then you can think about being outside instead of stuck sitting at your desk all day. You could simply listen to recordings of different nature sounds, just be careful with the sound of water or you will be urged to the bathroom all day long.

Music that you enjoy vs. music that you do not like is where I am torn. Listening to music you like can make you feel better and people who listen to music they enjoyed complete tasks more quickly and can come up with better ideas than those who don't because the music can improve your mood.

However, if you like the music then you could be more prone to be distracted by it where if you are listening to music that you do not care for then you will be able to ignore it better and focus on your work more.

Smooth or soft music if your work involves solving equations because it is another type of genre that is not distracting and would allow you to still think clearly while listening to the mood of the music.

Music with no lyrics because lyrics are distracting, or at least they apparently are to a lot of people. It can be argued that it isn’t noise in general that is to blame when it comes to lost productivity, its really the words that force us to shift focus from our work to figuring out what someone is saying. So it makes sense that if you’re trying to avoid someone talking you should listen to music with no lyrics to avoid your focus shifting from the conversation to the words in a song.

Dance music if your work involves proof-reading and problem solving because this genre is also upbeat and will allow you to approach problems with a clear mind. I think listening to dance music produces more accurate results in spell-checking, solving equations and tackling tricky math word problems.

So next time you see your colleague nodding in time to a dance beat, don’t judge because they are probably working better than you are by clearing their mind and having a positive attitude. Music is deeply rooted in us as people and as a result, can play a significant role in enhancing our productivity and quality of work.The next time you decide to plug in your tunes, think about the type of task you are about to do. The right music can help if you need to work on a creative or simple task but if you are learning something new, it is best to shut the music off. Musical preference is different for everyone so choosing songs that make you feel happier and more energized, leads to better work.


It’s no secret that music can have a huge impact on our brains and bodies. Like I mentioned earlier, classical music can improve our visual attention and ambient music makes us focus harder, which is why the two are great choices for creative professionals. But how about people who exercise for a living, like athletes and coaches? Not surprisingly, pumping iron works better when you are also pumping the beat. This is because music competes for our brain's attention, and it therefore drowns out our brain thoughts about being tired or worn out from the actual workout. So in this aspect, you actually want to be distracted from your work. Of course it all comes down to what music keeps you motivated and focused whether that be a classical genre or not. Craving something with a beat that would keep building and never get boring would help you with a long day of work because it will never get old, even if your work does. So go ahead, pump up the beat a little bit. You will be more productive for it and will glad you did it in the long run.

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