The Best Spotify Playlists for Productivity: The science behind music and motivation

Does listening to music actually improve your productivity? Turns out that the answer isn’t so simple. Find out what we’ve learned in this blog.

If you listen to music while working, you're definitely not alone. In fact, 61% of employees listen to music to boost productivity. But the question is, does it really work?

After perusing the latest research behind music and productivity, we've found that the science actually supports both sides. Here's what we'll cover:

  • Is it scientifically proven that music helps you work?
  • Listening to music while working, some tips and tricks.
  • Music for productivity, some playlists for you to try out!

The Science Behind Music and Productivity

Researching the relationship between listening to music and productivity is nothing new. You've probably heard of the "Mozart Effect," the idea that listening to Mozart will make you more intelligent. It turns out, the whole study was a totally taken out of context, and the real improvement in cognitive tasks wasn't necessarily the type of music, but rather the improved mood from listening to music.

Some studies have found that listening to music you enjoy may increase norepinephrine and melatonin in the brain, two pleasure-causing substances. Additionally, music can relieve stress resulting in creative positive moods, boosts in self-confidence, and increased energy.

So music can put you in a better mood, but can it actually make you more productive? That's where the science gets a little iffy.

In the journal Psychology of Music, Teresa Lesiuk measured the effect of music listening on the work quality of software engineers. She found that participants who listened to music were happier and consequently made them more productive.

To sum it up, music listening isn't some magic cure to ineffectiveness, rather music may support productivity because it improves your overall mood and happiness. But who cares, right? Productivity stemming from happiness? We'll take it.

Tips and Tricks for Music Productivity

If the 'science' convinced you to try listening to music at work, here are some points to help you gain the maximum amount of productivity while doing so!

Choose a playlist that fits your task

Music has a vibe. If you're going to a classy sit-down dinner, the background music is likely going to differ from what you'd hear in a club. This same logic applies to the music you to work as well. When you have a task that's low mental effort, pertaining to information that you're already familiar with, or even super repetitive, high energy music can motivate you to get the job done. If you're dealing with more conceptual assignments or with tasks that are a little harder to wrap your brain around, calm music and non-lyrical music might be your best option.

Avoid music with lyrics for deep work

Playing into our last point, if you need to get something done that takes a lot of brain power, then choosing a playlist that is instrumental might help you concentrate better. This idea is supported by Clifford Nass, a professor from Stanford University and expect on multi-tasking research. He states:

"Music with lyrics is very likely to have a problematic effect when you're writing or reading, but probably less of and effect if you're not using the language processing part of your brain."

It comes down to this: Deep Work = calm and instrumental music

Try listening to music during breaks

If you're someone who works better without music, then listening to something during your breaks or between tasks might be more beneficial for you. Even if you do work better in silence, there's no harm in taking advantage of music when you have some spare time. An upbeat playlist can help you gain some motivation to continue working or just make you happy! Definitely worth a shot.

Keep an ear out for the volume

If you're listening to music too loud, it can often distract you from your work (and harm your ear drums too!). Be mindful of your music volumes so you can keep focus on the task at hand.

Productivity Tunes by Genre:

If you need some help finding some killer tracks for working, we've compiled this list. Everything is organized by genre so it's easy to navigate. Happy listening!

Classical Music

Maybe the Mozart Effect actually works? Try it out for yourself.

Chilling Background Music

The coziness of snuggling up in a cafe all wrapped into a playlist. Check out these tracks if you're okay with a bit of lyrics in the background.

Relaxing Beats

Deep breaths, you got this.

Upbeat Tracks

This list is for those repetitive tasks that take little brainpower. It's motivation music at its finest.

Nature Sounds

The classic nature sounds to bring some serenity into your workflow.

White Noise

Did you know that there are different colored noises? The variations lie in the frequencies to create the static. White noise has equal power per frequency, and pink noise as equal power per octave. What that basically means is that white noise sounds more like radio static and pink noise more like leaves rustling.

Video Game Soundtracks

This one might seem a bit out-of-place, but video game soundtracks can be really relaxing and even make you feel pretty dang cool. Conquering all your tasks one by one.

We hope you found a playlist that you can rock out to during your next assignment. Tell us how it worked out on Instagram @collatohq

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Made with 🍦 in Berlin.