Staying on task at work can be challenging. One thing that may help is functional music— music specifically designed to enhance your focus and productivity.
In today’s world, you’re constantly bombarded by things that compete for your attention. Texts, phone calls, emails, notifications, social media, thoughts, to-do lists— they all pull at your focus, threatening to take you off-task.
Focus music is a special type of music that helps you become more productive. Here’s how focus music works, as well as a playlist, to enhance your attention so you can get more done.
What Is Focus Music?
If a great song has ever moved you, you already know that music has the power to change your mental state and mood.
And it’s not just in your head. Those changes have a measurable effect on performance. For example, research shows that people who listen to upbeat music before working out have more muscle endurancehttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435671/ and explosive powerhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22033366/.
Certain music may also help you focus better. Focus music (also called functional music) has become increasingly popular as a way to change your cognitive state, turning on deep concentration that can help you stay on task at work.
The Science of Focus Music
You’re constantly surrounded by stimuli throughout the day, and if you want to get anything done, you have to ignore almost all of them. Imagine paying attention to the sound of the AC unit, the dog barking in the hallway, the billboard outside, and the smell of your morning coffee, all while trying to write an email. You’d go crazy.
Fortunately, your brain is fairly good at filtering out unimportant stimuli. Executive attention is your brain’s ability to choose the things worthy of your focus and put everything else in the background.
For example, if someone is talking to you at a party, you can listen to what they’re saying and ignore the 15 other conversations happening around you. That’s the power of executive attention.
However, executive attention comes at a cost. Your brain has to spend energy to suppress all those other stimuli, and as time goes on, it gets harder and harder for you to stay on task.
That’s where focus music comes in. It covers up other distractions and provides a background stimulus that your brain can attend to. Still, it makes that stimulus incredibly easy to digest, so your brain doesn’t have to spend much energy keeping you focused.
Focus music is typically resonant, repetitive instrumental music that feels almost trance-like to listen to. Almost all focus music contains the same elements:
- Repetition. Focus music usually has a repetitive melody that either loops or continues in a predictable fashion. No sudden shifts in melodic structure, notable pauses, or significant changes in volume.
- Narrow range. No low or high notes that will surprise you and demand your attention.
- Consistent complexity. The type and number of instruments stay the same throughout the music.
These elements create music that’s calming and easy to listen to, which keeps your brain engaged but also allows it to relax. As a result, your brain spends less energy attending to the music and can devote more energy to the task at hand.
However, there’s a balance here. When a stimulus stays the same, your brain habituates to it and gradually phases it out. If focus music is too simple or repetitive, its effect will wear off after a while.
In other words, focus music has to occupy your brain enough to let you focus on work, but stay novel enough that your brain doesn’t get used to it and start filtering it out.
Good focus music strikes this balance, leaving you in a trance-like state of sustained attention that keeps you productive for hours on end.
Try This Deep Focus Playlist to Enhance Your Productivity
Focus music can help you stay on task and get more done. It’s a valuable tool to keep handy for days when you’re doing mentally demanding work over a long period of time.
If you want to experiment with focus music, try this deep focus playlist and see how it makes you feel. You may find it makes you more productive.
And if you want to build an even stronger, more focused brain, try this nootropics quiz. It gives you personalized brain supplement suggestions based on your unique goals, and is a powerful way to enhance your cognition.