How to Use Music To Increase Productivity as A High-Performer


music increase productivity

Have you thought of using music as a productivity booster? What kind of music would that be? How does music increase productivity? Can music even reduce productivity?

This and many more mind-boggling questions come to mind, especially if we often love thumping our feet and shaking our body to great vibes when working.

Music isn’t just for entertainment.

According to a survey in 2013, over 73% of warehouse workers said they were more productive when listening to music in the background. Another study by Totaljobs in 2016 stated that 79% of people boost their productivity through music.

A different study by The Telegraph found that 88% of workers solving math problems, data entry, and proofreading had more accurate results when listening to music. At the same time, 81% worked faster with music as a productivity booster.

Historically music and work have always been intertwined. But then, a more systematic study in 2020 reviewed studies from 2008 to 2018 and revealed inconclusive results about the effects of background music.

So does music increase productivity? Yes, it does, but it is a deeply personal journey that differs from one person and environment to the next.

This article will talk about the impact of music on performance, using music as a productivity tool, and choosing your productivity music app or playlist.


How Music Increase Productivity

Music can stimulate different areas of the brain. This is why we can feel revived by specific songs, angered or sad by others. Listening to happy vibes enhances dopamine release from the brain and can make us happier.

Therefore, music has many stupendous benefits for us. Let’s look at some benefits of using music to increase productivity.

Transform your Mood

Getting things done better and faster has deep connections with our mood. Suppose you are feeling sad, depressed, or anxious. In that case, it becomes harder to complete tasks and reach the heights of your productivity.

Listening to music can increase your work productivity by spicing up your day and getting you out of that gloomy state. One study published in Trends in Cognitive Science revealed that music is perfect for fighting stress and anxiety than anti-anxiety drugs. Other studies have also shown that music at work can boost happiness and productivity.

Maintain Consistency on Tedious, Repetitive Tasks

Doing the same thing over and over again can be frustrating and tiresome. When you are bored, it’s easier to get easily distracted, which lowers your productivity. Consider using music as a productivity tool. One study by JAMA Network showed that surgeons carrying out repetitive tasks in a  laboratory (aside from carrying out surgery) experienced a boost in their productivity by listening to music.

Daniel Levitin, neuroscientist and author of This is Your Brain on Music, stated that music could make repetitive tasks pleasurable and improve your concentration on the task.

Maintain Your Productivity

Some tasks can require absolute tranquility, which means you wouldn’t want to be use music at such times. You don’t have to use music when working; you can do so during breaks.

A study published in Psychology of Music journal revealed that listening to music in-between tasks or during short breaks can help you remain focused for more extended periods.

Stop Clock Watching

Watching your clock while trying to complete tasks can be detrimental and dangerous. While it is essential to keep track of time, becoming obsessed about it can be draining. It’s no wonder we often find ourselves doing more clock-watching than actually completing the tasks before us.

Check out this article 9 Proven Hacks and Apps on Time Blocking and Scheduling

What Should you do to Use Music to Increase Productivity

1) Select Music that Increases your Focus

As said earlier, listening to music can increase work efficiency, but it can also become a distraction. In most cases, this often happens when listening to music with lyrics, especially when carrying out complicated tasks. A study shows that lyrical tracks have negative impacts on cognitive work performance.  Another research shows that complex, upbeat music can also be intensely distracting for cognitive work.

However, some people also find classical music or metal distracting. Others also swear by familiar soundtracks, but this too has been shown by research to be distracting to some people. The bottom line? You need to find the type of music that works for y

2) Boredom Counts

Some tasks make us want to sleep off instead of completing them. Sadly, this happens when we have the most complicated tasks in front of us.

A study in 2019 shows that your boredom levels can also influence your ability to harness music for your work. According to the review, those prone to boredom are better off completing tasks in silence than having music in the background. Want to know whether you are prone to boredom? The University of Oregon developed a 28-question test for that purpose. You can find this test across the internet or use the spinout by The Cut for that purpose. The same study also says that high performers also tend to work better when listening to the most complex sounds. However, it’s really about finding out what works for you.

3) Level of Expertise

In the same way, your expertise can also determine how music influences your work performance. A study by  Teresa Lesiuk, an Assistant Professor in the music therapy program at the University of Miami, discovered that music was most beneficial for those who were moderately skilled at their jobs. Experts listening to music felt no effects, while those who were novices found music distracting. Dr. Lesiuk equally observed that the older people were, the less time they spent listening to music.

4) Start Slow and Experiment

Don’t assume you already know the songs that would be great for work. Experiment with different genres and beats until you have a playlist.

Also, you might consider having a different playlist for different types of tasks and moods. I find that complete silence can be necessary for specific tasks. Simultaneously, I need an upbeat tempo for a different kind of task, such as editing.

I also realize that the kind of mood I have at the start of the day can also influence what I choose in my productivity music playlist.

Another study by Spotify at its Focus Hub found that using music is an excellent choice to fight the afternoon slump between 12 pm and 5 pm.

Music is an excellent way to stop your wandering, unhappy mind so that you can focus on the present. Click To Tweet

5) Have Music Breaks for Maximum Concentration

We already talked about this as a benefit, but it’s worth it. You can deeply feel the impact of music on work performance when you use it during breaks. The happy tune will not interfere with your work, but that vibe will follow you back to your seat.

If you have deeply complicated projects that require absolute silence, consider musical breaks to keep yourself refreshed and energized.  It’s also an excellent choice when using the Pomodoro technique. One study shows that listening to music for at least 15-30 minutes before returning to work can even help you regain concentration.

6) How Loud is the Volume

The volume of your music matters too and can determine how much listening to music improves your productivity and job satisfaction. Sometimes, it’s an excellent choice to increase the volume of your music until it’s so loud in your ears, and you can focus solely on the tasks in front of you. Other times, you need a calm and soothing sound that stays in the background entirely.

A study from the University of Illinois revealed that playing music in a quiet tune might boost productivity during focused work. However, increasing the volume a bit higher to the medium level can also increase creativity.

7) Your Headphones also Matters

Wearing headphones gives us the ability to control our aural environment, which improves our determination and resourcefulness. It can also allow us to customize a work experience that is entirely our own. But then your headphones matter.

Getting a cheap set of earplugs isn’t going to cut it. You wouldn’t want to be plagued with headaches after a few hours of work. I take a cue from Four-times New York Bestselling Author Daniel Pink, who prescribes complete silence at all times. To achieve this, he uses in-ear headphones with over-the-ear headphones. Sure, we are not talking about not using music at all. However, his equipment helps him create an environment that allows him to work effectively.

This sentiment is also shared by Steven Orfield, President of Orfied Laboratories Inc. He said that noise-canceling/headphones could screen out as much as three-fourths of office noise. If you also work in a busy workplace, bulky headphones will not just help you control your environment but can also discourage casual conversation.


The Best Music for Productivity

We all respond to different tracks in different ways. This will also influence the type of music we can use as a productivity hack. However, some musical sound types work better than others for most people. Don’t forget that this list is by no means exhaustive. However, it can help you when choosing the best music to include in your productivity music playlist.

But different kinds of music affect us differently. For instance, ambient music might improve creativity and concentration, while pop has been studied for helping accomplish tasks quickly.

Doctors have also used classical music for higher accuracy, while dance music has improved proofreading speed by 20%.  However, here are some of the best music types for productivity

  • Classical Music

Studies show that Classical Music can enhance brain activity in accuracy and the ability to perform tasks more efficiently. This is called the Mozart Effect. Classical music is incredibly calming and relaxing. It is also great for learning and improving memory.

  • Nature Music

Nature Music isn’t your regular music. It’s about listening to the recorded sounds of nature. I find this soothing at specific times when I need to improve my concentration and cognitive function. These sounds can range from waves crashing, flowing water, or rainfall to sounds of animals and birds. However, the best nature sounds for productivity are the soothing sounds of flowing water, waves crashing, and the sounds of turbulent rainfall.

  • Cinematic Music

Cinematic music is a soundtrack that can be very empowering. They are the soundtracks of films, and when you find grandiose and epic, they can make mundane tasks feel like the most refreshing.  It can brighten your mood and lift your spirits.

  • Video Game Music

Video Game Music can also help you focus. Usually, this music is fast-paced and has no lyrics or human voice. Studies have shown that music composed for video games can help you deal with intense situations and solve puzzles.


  • Ambient soundtracks

Ambient soundtracks are especially great when carrying out difficult work. This sentiment is echoed by Brian  Eno, creator of Music for Airport, who said that “

“Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.”

Besides these significant music categories, music genres such as meditation, white noise, hip-hop, rock, pop, and hip-hop have also been beneficial. For instance, studies show that data entry workers worked 58% faster when using pop music.  The same study found that workers increased their proofreading speed by 20% when listening to dance music.

So, you have to discover what works to create a gorgeous space that helps you focus on your work.  Here’s a chart from CloudCover Music to help you discover how productive your preference can be:

chart to choose music to increase productivity

Final Thoughts – Can Music Increase your Productivity?

Surgeons have been known for ages to use music when working on the job. Usually, their second-best option is the music they don’t like and so, not using music at all is the least option.

So, it’s affirmative that music can increase your productivity. The problem is finding out what works for you.

I also recall the words of Vincent James, co-founder of KeepMusic Alive to help you get started on putting together that productivity music playlist.

He said:

“If you’re a fan of contemporary popular music, you may find it challenging to focus on complex tasks when you find yourself singing along with the lyrics. We’ve found, as Einstein did, that instrumental classical, jazz, or new age music can help open up our minds and sometimes help us go deeper into a problem we’re attempting to solve.

“However, if our work involves something more repetitive, then, by all means, bring on our favorite pop songs and sing along as loud as our environment permits. This will release powerful endorphins motivating us to move faster without being a detriment to what we’re working on.”

So the impact of music on your work performance can be good or bad.

Be open to listening to tracks you’ve never heard of. I’ve accidentally found soothing sounds that worked better.

Take gradual steps and build on it.

Finally, always assess your productivity; that’s how you know if your productivity methods are working, so you can improve in all areas, not just your productivity music.

As a business owner, also offer opportunities for your employees to listen to their favorite sounds.  If it isn’t possible to use individual sounds, experiment with different beats and genres in the background to meet everyone’s needs.

Once we have that happy or soothing sound flowing through us, we feel less stressed, more creative, more optimistic, focused, and in the Zone.