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Listening to Music at Work

How to pick the right music to get you through the work day

The next time you’re scrambling to meet that important work deadline or need a pick-me-up after the weekend, try turning to your work music playlist instead of coffee. Listening to music while working in the office can make you more creative, concentrated, happier, and even help you produce higher-quality work. In fact, a study at the University of Illinois found that listening to music with headphones made workers more productive by 14 percent.

But there is a science to picking the right music for each workplace scenario.  Songs that might be fitting for more monotonous tasks won’t do for generating creative work. Read on to find out what type of music works best for each of your workday tasks and download an example song for each category. 

The Best Work Music for Surviving Monday

Forget your third cup of coffee. Get your week started off right by playing an energy-rich song with positive, affirming lyrics. Music has a profound impact on our moods and productivity, according to sports psychologist Costas Karageorghis who has researched the effects of music on performance. He recommends hitting the play button on a song with a rhythmic structure between 120 and 140 beats per minute to cure your Monday blues. Try listening to songs in the electric or funk genre to give you that extra boost of energy.

“Come Get it Bae”

Artist: Pharrell Williams

The Best Work Music for Getting Creative 

Busting out your favorite work music playlist can get your creative juices flowing so that you can tackle writing that blog post or designing that company logo. There is a reason that artsy types flock to coffee shops to get their best work done. According to a study at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, groups exposed to a moderate level of noise significantly out-performed the other groups. The theory is that sound disrupts some of our normal thinking processes and makes us solve problems more creatively. Consider listening to songs that fit the mood of what your end-goal is for the project. 

“Adventure of a Lifetime”

Artist: Coldplay

The Best Work Music for Stress Relief

Whether you need to take a breather after an intense business meeting or blow off some steam after a tight deadline at work, music can help you take the edge off. Music has been proven to improve your emotional health and can help reduce stress when in anxiety-producing situations. Stressed-out workers should turn to rhythmically simple songs with light vocals that fall between 70 and 90 beats. 

“So I Could Find My Way”

Artist: Enya

The Best Work Music for Repetitive Tasks

Inputting endless numbers into a spreadsheet can be mind-numbing, but there is a way to make it fly by. Listening to upbeat, fun songs can both improve your efficiency and your overall work satisfaction. In fact, a study in the Applied Ergonomics journal found that factory workers performed at a higher rate while listening to music at work. So break out of your monotonous routine with songs that can get you moving!  

“Lips Are Movin”

By: Meghan Trainor

The Best Work Music for Concentration

If you want to maximize your concentration on certain complex tasks (like working on a big presentation for your boss or writing code for a program), consider choosing work music that is relatively unchanging in mood, style and range. Simple songs without lyrics allow your brain to focus on the work right in front of you. Seek out songs in the ambient or classical genres to get your logic, focus and critical thinking on track. 

“Ave Maria”

Artist: Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott

With these songs in your work music playlist, mixing work and play can actually help you accomplish more. And make sure you plug in those h.ear on headphones so that you can jam out to your music without disturbing your co-workers.

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