How Music Can Stimulate Your Productivity, According to Research

An artist composing music
An artist composing music

Everyone has different opinions about having background music when doing their homework or daily chores. Some people find it distracting and irritating. Others cannot focus without the right song from their playlist. And some people select music to boost their productivity for specific tasks while normally working in silence.

Scholars have explored the effect of music on one’s brain in different situations. Many studies have shown that some music genres can be used to improve focus, creativity block, and productivity. However, productivity can be interpreted as overcoming any type of block to complete your tasks. It is beneficial to unlock the magic of music for anyone if they haven’t yet.

So, what do these studies say about productivity and music?

What’s better, music or noises?

You may find a lot of playlists and compilations with nature or artificial sounds. Many people use them to add to the background while falling asleep or relaxing. Yet, can you use them to boost your productivity?

Many scholars investigate the effects of music, while fewer studies are concerned with background noises. A 2012 study in the Journal of Consumer Research by Mehta, Zhu, and Cheema argues that moderate levels of ambient background noises can boost your creativity. On the other hand, high levels of background noise can harm your concentration and impair the creative process.

Another 2016 study in HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal by Largo-Wight, O’Hara, and Chen investigated how nature sounds affect stress levels and work rates. The study found that while listening to nature sounds during breaks, participants felt less tension and could improve motivation.

You can try combining music and noises for your break routines to see how they work for you. Intuitively, nature sounds can be beneficial for students and workers struggling with writer’s block. They provide the necessary mood to distract from your task and refresh your perspective.

Music helps you to master repetitive tasks

Practice makes perfect, they say. However, repetitive tasks like data entry and analysis, editing, and revising your papers for university can be tiresome and boring. You can avoid being overwhelmed by them by putting the right music on in the background.

JAMA Network’s 1994 study by doctors Allen and Blascovitch showcases the improved performance of surgeons working on lab tasks while having music in the background. The music managed to ease the boredom and stress levels associated with these tasks. A neuroscientist Daniel Levitin agrees with the findings and adds that music makes repetitive tasks more enjoyable. It becomes easier to concentrate and maximize positive results.

You become twice as productive when you crack the code of repetitiveness. Whether you are a law student memorizing how a Bluebook citation works or an office intern, your results would be more fruitful with music. Not only does it improve your focus, but it also helps you to keep up with the process.

Music equals better mood

When are people the most productive? They are at the peak of their performance when they have the right mood and attitude. Music can boost your productivity while helping you to relieve anxiety and stress. Chanda and Levitin’s 2013 study in Trends of Cognitive Sciences proves music can be used as a tool to lower stress hormones (cortisol in particular) levels and be combined with actual anxiety and stress medicine for better results.

Learning how to create music also adds to a better mood

You can add learning an instrument to your bucket list to improve your daily routine. According to a 2016 study by Shipman in Federal Practitioner, creating music also allows you to release emotions and improve your mental well-being. Since many emotions are hard to express and rationalize, you can stay in the present moment and work on them through creative outlets. At the end of the day, you get to express your emotions effectively, regulate stress hormone levels, and have more satisfaction and a sense of achievement.

The music you love can improve your productivity

Many articles would suggest putting on classical music to strengthen your cognitive abilities. The hypothesis that classical music makes you a more educated person can be found everywhere. You can read about it in prenatal child development advice or in fictional works like a Clockwork Orange book or movie. In reality, it works a bit differently, and your tastes can be more valuable when choosing a playlist.

If you pick a music genre you love when working or studying, you are helping yourself. A 2011 study in Psychology of Music by Johansson, Holmqcist, Mossberg, and others investigated the effect of music on reading. The authors argue that you should give preference to the music you would usually listen to. Everything depends on your taste and habits, and many study participants performed worse when listening to non-preferred music.

The study also took into account participants’ extraversion and introversion characteristics, type of task, and type of music. In this regard, music with lyrics harms concentration and memory when reading, compared to background noises or instrumentals. Nevertheless, it’s a good opportunity to curate a unique playlist that will work in your favor.


Overall, music is a great productivity aid for anyone. Whether you choose music breaks or put on background noise, you improve your focus, reduce your anxiety, and enjoy your day.

Here are some things you should be mindful about:

  • Choose music that will make you enjoy your task;
  • Avoid picking up popular songs – that can be distracting;
  • Some people perform better with music breaks rather than listening to music when doing the task;
  • The volume has a significant impact on your productivity. The higher it goes, the more likely you are to be distracted;
  • Choose music that is appropriate for the task, lo-fi beats for cognitive charged tasks, and upbeat funk for repetitive tasks;
DISCLAIMER: this is not a scientific article.