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As a general guideline, avoid music that’s going to challenge the brain. Again, this boils down to a few different components: If you’re trying to provide a background to your work (particularly if your work involves processing thoughts and words), steer clear of music with lyrics. Lyrics can give you mixed messages and distract you in the long run.
Highly complex structures of music can also jumble the brain and make it work overtime. That said, what you consider to be “complex” might rely on a boredom factor. Generally speaking though, you need less Swedish death metal with intricate guitar solos, and something more engaging than “Row, Row, Row, Your Boat.”
Finally, there’s plenty of research around how uplifting music can improve your mood and productivity simultaneously. That means a downer track like the “Imperial March” from Star Wars is not the way to go, no matter how evil your boss is.
Can listening to music make you more productive?
The short, sweet, and deeply unsatisfactory answer? It could. Some schools of thought contend that listening to music while working is a form of multitasking, which many say is not optimal for productivity. Because of this, the idea is we’d be better off pressing play 10 to 15 minutes before and after our work projects. Also worth noting though, is music can uplift and keep you steady through monotonous work. And also, some research suggests that certain music will or won’t work for productivity, based on your boredom tolerance. That means when we make our musical selection, we want to consider how we use our music. What makes up our melodies, when we use one song versus another song, and which genre would be best for specific tasks.
Read more of this article including what music TO listen to while working.