When it comes to needing to focus and get work done, music has been my savior. Creating a playlist for when I need to concentrate, however, is not easy.


Studies show that music can improve your productivity and help tune out all of the background noise so you can tune into what you want to accomplish. Read more about that research here.


To create a good working playlist, here are some tips:


Choose songs that won’t distract you.


This is a fairly obvious, but easier said than done. I’m definitely the type of person who can rock out to whatever song I am listening to, which undoubtedly gets me off track. Something I have found to be really effective is choosing songs that don’t have words, like this song from the “Inception” score. That way, you can still recognize the tune without singing along and sometimes even type the lyrics to your favorite Coldplay jam even though you’re supposed to be typing a paper. (It’s actually happened before.)


Pick songs you love.


That isn’t to say that all the songs you pick should be from your least favorite genres. Choose songs from genres that you listen to in your free time, even your favorite songs. I have found that to be very effective myself. Your favorite songs and artists will motivate you and that similar sound found within the genre you like would help maintain your concentration. That is of course, keeping the first tip in mind.




Mix rhythms and tempos.


The last thing you want is to be in a constant state of boredom when working. A playlist of just the same sounds over and over will not motivate you; it will do the opposite. Mixing rhythms, tempos, and even genres can help keep your attention on your work.


Change it up once in a while.


Just like with a workout playlist, after multiple listens, it can get repetitive. Make sure to keep your playlist fresh by adding and removing songs as you see fit. Or, you can even make a new playlist every once in a while to make sure you don’t fall into the same monotonous trap.


Let a music service do it for you!


If creating your own playlist is too daunting or time-consuming, let others help. Spotify and Songza are both great music services that allow you to choose a “mood” that matches what you are feeling, and a pre-made playlist will be on queue. You can even choose specific songs to add to your personal library and make your own playlist from there. Pandora is also a good service that has channels based on your taste in music genre or artist.


A lot of the work in creating a playlist comes down to trial and error. Test out songs in a real situation and don’t be afraid to try something unconventional. Happy listening!