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6 May 2014

Listen to These Music Genres to Increase Productivity

If you are able to work in complete silence throughout the day, ignore this post. For the rest of us, continue reading – especially if you are having an unproductive day.

Most of us listen to music to stay focused throughout the workday. Whether it’s our MP3 collection or our record collection, we use music to keep the silence out of our heads so we can concentrate – and it seems to work. Have you ever wondered why music helps us to concentrate but working in silence typically keeps us from staying productive? It’s always been a mystery to me, but I did a little digging and found out exactly why music helps most of us to stay productive.

In a 2005 study, researcher Teresa Lesiuk concluded that, “the effect of music listening on work performance [promotes] a positive mood change and enhanced perception on design while working.” The results concluded that quality of work was at its lowest when music was not playing, and tasks typically took longer. Thus, music not only keeps you from being bored while working – it also helps you to churn out your best work possible (theoretically, of course).

However, not all music genres are created equal – and your favorite albums? You may not want to listen to them. For example, you may have listened to the album Straight Outta Compton thousands of times, and if you put that album on? You’re probably going to find yourself singing to the words and bobbing your head instead of working. It’s the reason I never listen to Radiohead albums when I work.

Which genres should you be listening to? Try these genres on for size, and watch your productivity soar!


Video Game Soundtracks

This one kind of seems like a given, doesn’t it? We love video games, and because you likely play your fair share of games, you probably already have some idea as to which soundtracks you’ve enjoyed over the years. Personally, I’m a fan of the Hotline Miami, FTL: Faster Than Light, and Bastion soundtracks. As far as AAA soundtracks go, it’s hard to beat anything Assassin’s Creed or the great Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Video game soundtracks do not raise our productivity just because we love video games though. Rather, these soundtracks are designed to keep players engaged in the game without being distracting. In fact, this is the same reason film soundtracks are great for listening to while working.


Film Soundtracks

What’s great about film soundtracks is you have decades of soundtracks to choose from when finding a great film soundtrack to work to. As great as video game soundtracks may be, they’ve only come into their own in the last 15 years or so. With films? Again, you have decades of stellar soundtracks that are ripe for keeping you productive. Whether you want something upbeat such as the Tron Legacy soundtrack or something a little more rugged such as the soundtrack from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (or anything composed by Ennio Morricone, really), film soundtracks allow this to happen. One of your favorite films probably contains a great soundtrack, so seek it out and watch your productivity improve.



Using jazz to be productive can be tricky. Jazz can definitely be used to improve your productivity, but if it’s too distracting? It can kill your productivity. Find which jazz helps you to work properly. For example, some people may be able to work to big band jazz music, while to others, this can be extremely distracting. Others may prefer smaller jazz ensembles, while others find this distracting. Find your ‘perfect medium’ by sampling jazz tracks on YouTube. Find what sticks and grab the album/collection that works best for you.


Classical Music

You’ve heard it all before: classical music is the key to concentration. I’ve never really bought that, as I find classical music distracting. You may find classical music to be distracting as well, but if you don’t, again, take to YouTube and find which pieces are the best for improving your productivity.

Electronic music is another genre that is great for improving your productivity, and while I could keep going on and on all day about which genres of music are ideal for keeping you productive, I’ll just state what you have probably already caught on to: whatever music you listen to, ensure it does not include any words. Lyrical music can keep you from being productive, because let’s face it, you’ll be listening to the words of the music, you will become focused on the lyrics, and before you know it, you’ll be lost in a trance of music and your productivity will be shot.

Do not allow this to happen! Stick to music genres that are free of lyrics. By doing so, your productivity will be at an all-time high.


Which music genres help you to get work done? Which albums and/or songs help you to focus and work? Let us know in the comments below!

2 Responses

  1. Trey Smith

    Good article Dusty. I’m fan of soundtracks (like LOTR… but not the battle stuff) and then of course house/techno/trance WITHOUT vocals. Vocals drive me nuts when writing.

  2. I agree with all of those genres, nothing with vocals though because that’s super distracting.
    The problem is eventually I get bored of listening to the same music and it eventually gets as bad as listening to nothing.
    I’ve recently been going to YouTube and typing ambient, that brings up compilations of ambient / relaxing music that are 4 hours or even more.
    It seems to work well for me.
    Epic music like film scores or anything by Two Steps from Hell is good for tight deadlines 😀

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