Written by Asha Kalsi

It’s up for debate whether or not you should be studying or working to music- but like everything else in life there’s no real black or white answer. It’s all in how you use it. The reality is, there are a few factors that impact how your music can help or hurt your productivity. Whether you’re studying for exams, powering through spreadsheets at work or trying to get in a meditative headspace- it’s easy to turn your playlists into a great tool to max out your focus. 

So how can music help your concentration?

Music can indirectly be super helpful for getting into the zone- it might not magically make you great at maths but it can help put your brain in the right space to really engage with the tasks you want to focus on. Having a tailored soundtrack designed for your needs is a great place to start!

  • Good music can put you in a positive headspace: Music is pretty universally loved in all its different genres and styles across age groups and cultures for a good reason: music feels good to listen to. It’s a full body-experience that can’t help but improve your mood; it allows us to process negative feelings like stress or boredom as a means to feel better or just boosts an already upbeat feeling. It goes without saying that being in a good mood can make focus-heavy tasks a lot easier. Let’s be honest, if you’re not feeling great you’re not going to be especially present or productive. Choosing the kind of music that brings your mood up is a great step to set you up for success.
  • Music is a great way of staying motivated: Your playlists can be used to really hype you up when you’re pushing through to the end of a long study session or focus-intensive work day. When you’re running out of steam, putting some upbeat music on can act as a little treat to hype you up and get you through it. It’s like a little jolt of energy!
  • Listening to music can support your cognitive skills: Music can be great for keeping your mind and focus at full capacity. By strengthening the networks in your brain, music stimulates your brain in a way that is similar to how exercise acts as a workout for your body. Music increases your capacity for focus.
  • Music helps with your overall memory: The brain pathways that are activated when experiencing and revisiting the songs you love are similar to those involved in tasks like reading, studying and writing. This means that by frequently listening to music, you’re essentially flexing and strengthening those mental muscles associated with memory allowing you to better remember the content you’re reading and writing later.

Music isn’t a perfect solution though. There’s a few negatives to consider too!

As much as it can be a help, music can also negatively impact your focus too. This is especially the case if your music is so loud you can’t hear yourself think or so slow and mellow it’ll put you to sleep. It’s important to make sure you’re using music with the right energy level for you.

  • Music can be distracting: Listening to music can work in your favour when it comes to shifting your mood; a facet of why we like music is that when we’re feeling sad or stressed, it is a great way to take ourselves somewhere else for a moment. When we’re trying to max out our concentration and focus, distraction is the polar opposite effect of what we’re after here.
  • Working with background music can make multi-tasking harder: Your ability to do multiple concurrent tasks is called your working memory. If you overload yourself with too much input, it can decrease your working memory’s capacity. By adding more information into your brain, especially with loud, experimental, or lyric-heavy music, you’re more likely to max out your brain’s capacity. If you want to maintain your focus, it’s important not to put more into your brain than it can effectively handle at a time; most of us can only take in a few pieces of information in one go so it’s important to choose more neutral, unobtrusive tunes.
  • Music can make it harder to absorb information: Listening to the wrong kind of music that is distracting or obtrusive can mess with your reading comprehension, preventing anything you’re reading or writing from really passing through your brain. If you’re not absorbing the content what’s even the point? If your brain keeps drifting to the lyrics or rhythm of the music, it can frequently override the words you’re trying to write or read.


How to go about crafting your perfect focus playlist

The music you choose to listen to while working is super personal and finding what music works for you specifically is most important. Depending on the tasks you’re focusing on, the ideal music for overall concentration can change based on its intensity and what kind of focus you’re after. If you’re a little lost on where to start or can’t quite get to that true level of concentration you’re after there are a few pieces of advice that can really help. Here are the main things to consider when choosing your focus tunes:

  • Avoid anything too lyric-heavy that might catch your ear while you’re trying to read or write.
  • Avoid anything too experimental especially if it varies in volume or tempo a lot.
  • Keep the volume low enough that it serves as background music. If you find you’re cranking up the volume to drown out any external noise, headphones with ANC are an excellent solution such as the Mixx StreamQ C4 over-ear headphones or the Mixx Micro ANC earbuds.
  • Stick to songs you feel neutral about. If your focus playlist just makes you want to dance rather than knuckle down and get your tasks done, it isn’t a good choice.
  • Try to avoid any jarring transitions between songs. If ads are a recurring disruptor, there are many YouTube livestreams that cycle through music designed for focus 24/7 so you can just leave it on in the background.


Here are a few genres that are sure to help you get into the zone:

  • Nature Sounds can set a tranquil or refreshing mood that keeps you feeling present and engaged. They are best for mindfulness and meditation because of this. More neutral and understated sounds like nature sounds are also great for deep-focus work like coding or problem-solving because they’re unobtrusive to high-focus tasks. They aren’t necessarily the most effective for tasks like reading or creative works because they don’t have much rhythm.
  • Ambient Music is great for creating a light atmosphere similar to nature sounds. Because it’s slow and gentle, ambient music is also great for deep focus tasks and meditation if nature sounds don’t quite scratch the itch- it’s all about preference.
  • Classical Music is a great means of getting yourself into a more formal or academic headspace. It can feel like the obvious choice. Because of the variety of classical music that’s out there, it’s a very popular choice for pretty much anything you need to concentrate on. It’s a good means of getting into your creative groove when painting or drawing, good at keeping you engaged while reading and great at keeping you stimulated but not distracted when writing.
  • Electronic Music like ambient EDM offers a more upbeat and energetic kind of focus. It’s excellent for a more creative kind of focus because of the more energetic tempo. It can also help if you’re focusing on something dry since something a little more high energy can help save you from the snoozefest and keep your brain activated while you perform tasks your brain is itching to get away from.
  • Film/game Soundtracks are another varied genre that can set the tone for your best focus; they’re personal to your tastes. With music from your favourite video games and movies, you can customise your vibe to the energy your tasks need eg more whimsical or motivational. It’s a plus that these soundtracks are designed to be in the background and so tend not to distract while also keeping your brain comfortably stimulated.
  • Lo-Fi Hip Hop is a chill and low-key genre with a cosy and inviting vibe. With the 24/7 YouTube livestreams out there you don’t have to worry about disruptions and can just enjoy the endless cycling of different tracks with a similar vibe; it’s hard to feel bored with the frequent song changes while also avoiding getting distracted. It’s in the name of a lot of these playlists; Lo-Fi is perfect to study, work and fall asleep to.
  • Jazz is an improvisational and widely varied genre that can be a great means to reset your focus when it starts to drift. It’s upbeat and fun, making it ideal for creative projects, a concentration-heavy workout or a long, tedious drive. It can keep things feeling fresh during long monotonous tasks.


Knowing how to use your playlists to max out your concentration is a sure-fire way to get in the right zone. If you want the right equipment to get the best out of your focus playlists, why not check out our amazing range at Mixx?  Take a look and find the pair that will bring out the best in your music!