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How to Choose the Perfect Playlist for Maximum Productivity

Jessica Stillman
Nov 24, 2020 · 3 min read

Music is powerful. If personal experience isn’t enough to convince you, science proves it. Research shows that music can make you healthier, happier, and can improve your relationships if you play it more often at home. One study even suggested the exact songs to put on if you want to pump yourself up at work.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re interested in a deeper dive into the neuroscience of how music affects our mood and performance, Jory Mackay has written the perfect article for you over on Quartz. In it, he outlines fascinating recent findings on the power of music to connect, inspire, and soothe us.

All of which is entertaining for science buffs and music lovers, but perhaps the coolest part of Mackay’s piece is the practical advice he offers based on his exploration of the research. Apparently, different sorts of tasks demand different sorts of tunes, and Mackay explains just what type of playlist you should put together for each situation.

For simple tasks, go with your favorites.

Powering through simple, routine tasks? Now is not the time to get innovative with your playlist. Any type of music will help you get through mundane work as long as it makes you happy and isn’t too challenging. “When it comes to repetitive or boring tasks, as long as you’re listening to something, you’ll get them done faster,” writes Mackay.

Instrumental is best for learning.

“For more immersive and mentally tasking jobs, classical or instrumental music has been shown to enhance mental performance more than music with lyrics,” reports Mackay, so opt for classical before that big math test or while cranking through that data.

Mackay also acknowledges, however, that if you’re really concentrating, this is one time it might be best to opt for silence. “If the task at hand is especially complex, shutting out all outside stimuli (including music) is your best bet,” he writes.

To boost creativity: 50–80 beats per minute.

If you’re looking to up your creativity, science has a very specific suggestion for you. “Dr. Emma Gray of the British CBT and Counseling Service worked with Spotify to conduct research on the benefits of certain types of music,” Mackay explains.

“Gray’s research found that musical tempo in the range of 50–80 beats per minute can help induce the alpha state in your brain. Your mind becomes calm, alert, and concentration is heightened. Alpha waves have also been associated with the ‘eureka moment’ — a flash of unique insight that triggers when you enter a relaxed, yet focused state of mind,” he continues.

Spotify, of course, has compiled a handy playlist of this type of music, which includes plenty of hits from the likes of Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Bruno Mars. But if you’re not a pop fan, don’t fret — according to Gray, genre doesn’t matter. As long as you hit the tempo sweet spot, your tunes should help boost your chances of experiencing an “aha! moment.”

Do you find a specific sort of music is best for boosting your work performance?

Accelerated Intelligence

For people who want to find time to learn, learn better…

Jessica Stillman

Written by

Top Inc.com columnist/ Editor/ Ghostwriter. Book lover. Travel fiend. Nap enthusiast. https://jessicastillman.com/

Accelerated Intelligence

For people who want to find time to learn, learn better, and use their knowledge to boost their income.

Jessica Stillman

Written by

Top Inc.com columnist/ Editor/ Ghostwriter. Book lover. Travel fiend. Nap enthusiast. https://jessicastillman.com/

Accelerated Intelligence

For people who want to find time to learn, learn better, and use their knowledge to boost their income.

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