Productivity Music Playlists: Do They Work?

black headphones with mobile smartphone 6320
Written by Trisha Bhullar

black headphones with mobile smartphone 6320

With the rise of music apps, we’ve never had a better soundtrack to our lives. Platforms like Spotify offer genres ranging from “Workout” to “Dinner” and even “Focus”. Productivity playlists are more popular than ever, but the question remains: do they actually impact our productivity?



It has been widely acknowledged that music could improve productivity, creativity, and happiness in the workplace setting. A study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association even found that surgeon accuracy improved when the surgeon worked with music playing. More recently, findings from the journal of Psychology of Music detailed how tech developers displayed better work quality and improved productivity while listening to tunes. This just goes to show that productivity and music work hand-in-hand in some of the most mentally-grueling industries. Just imagine the impact music could have on your own workplace productivity! 



Of course, not all music will boost your productivity. It’s essential to understand both the task at hand and yourself before picking a productivity playlist.

Firstly, the nature of the task defines the music you should choose. Generally, music with lyrics is distracting for people trying to complete tasks that require high levels of focus or absorbing new information. On the contrary, lyrical music can boost productivity if the task at hand is repetitive. This is simply because lyrics help distract individuals from the mundanity of the task. 

Besides this, the duration of music matters. Try to alternate between music-filled and non-music-filled blocks of time. Music has the greatest effect on productivity if it is used at intervals! In order to achieve this, use your choice of time-tracking device to strictly monitor your music-usage. Our favorite tool to do this? A Timeqube! It’s convenient to use, calming to look at, and completely stress-free. 

Next up, individual preferences. If you clearly dislike techno music, then productivity playlists with EDM, House or video game-inspired music might just distract you. On the other hand, if you find Jazz calming, you can easily sink into the music and become motivated to get work done. 

What about volume? There’s scientifically a volume sweet-spot where the music is loud enough to drown out surrounding noise and engage you, but soft enough to avoid distracting you from your task. The Journal of Consumer Research claims that this sweet-spot is at 70 decibels. However, this is merely a generalization! You’ll slowly come to realize what works best for you over time! 




Many people turn to classical music for productivity. The scientific backing behind this lies in the “Mozart Effect”, which states that listening to Mozart can boost cognitive ability. Some listen to classical music simply because it can be relaxing, unobtrusive yet engaging at the same time. 

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This simply boils down to personal preference. Some people experience intense focus when listening to high-energy music, others prefer calming beats. If you’re the former, EDM is right up your alley! It’ll get your blood pumping and keep you energized throughout your task.



Ambient noise is a popular means of helping individuals “zone out” of the present and immerse themselves in a task. The problem with real-life ambient noise is it’s simply filled with too much chatter and distractions. There are countless playlists with artificial ambient noise that you can turn to instead. An added bonus is that these ambient noises, like waterfalls or rain, are often calming and in turn promote greater focus. 



There are countless more genres to explore — Synthpop, House music, and Jazz to name a few. Above all, take the time to understand your needs and preferences! It’ll go a long way — besides, music can add a whole lot of color to your workday!