Work Smarter, Not Harder with Focusing Music

Who wouldn’t love to be able to concentrate with a laser-like focus and complete tasks more easily and efficiently? Distractions are everywhere, but the right kind of focus music can be used as a tool to help tune out the noise and hone in on the project in front of you. Whether you’re grinding through a work assignment, writing a paper, or memorizing facts for an exam, being able to stay focused and in the moment creates a huge advantage. If you’re interested in learning about using music for concentration and focus, read on for some tips on making focusing music work for you.

Can music help you focus?

Music can support focus and concentration in a number of ways. Listening to enjoyable music drives positive affect—meaning it makes us feel good—and helps decrease anxiety, stress, and negative feelings. Music can also aid relaxation, and people generally perform better when they’re relaxed and feeling good.

Focusing music also creates an ambience that discourages distraction by covering the random disruptive noises in the user’s environment. Sounds that would normally be intrusive are less so when music for focus is playing. When you need to study, focus music can help make your space more inviting.

Finally, music enhances performance via sustained arousal: keeping the listener alert, attentive, and engaged. Rhythm and groove in the music creates a pull that helps the listener stay focused on the task, and ideally, enter a flow state where performance feels natural and effortless. 


The science behind using music to focus

One of the significant features of music for concentration is that the listener’s musical preferences play a role as well. Although there are characteristic effects of music on the brain, subjective preferences and individual differences can influence which type of music will be the best.

A 2021 research study that measured performance on a sustained-attention activity investigated the effect of background music on varying attentional states, and found that the use of preferred background music enhanced the task-focused attentional states.

Further, the study showed that “...arousal [was] mediating the relationship between background music and task-performance.”

Groove, mentioned earlier, is related to the structural and acoustical properties of rhythm, including syncopation and bass. It’s a psychological construct that describes how much the music makes you want to move. Groove’s arousing effects and its impact in elevating mood make it an important component of music for focus. As long as the groove isn’t so intense that it makes you want to get up and dance, the looping beats can help entrain your attention so that you stay absorbed in your task.


Excerpt from "The Science of Music as Medicine" a webinar with Dr. Daniel Bowling, a neuroscientist and instructor at Stanford University, and functional music advisor. Watch the full webinar here


Finding the best focus music for work

The best music for concentration and focus has some specific qualities. The form of the music is relatively steady and stable and any changes are gradual; the music may be looped with subtle variations. Melodies, if any, are limited and repetitive, with no catchy tunes to divert the listener’s focus. A solid rhythmic groove keeps the energy going; there should be enough syncopation to maintain the listener’s attention but not so much as to become a distraction. Instrumental music with an energizing bass line and minimal high pitches helps the listener stay in the groove. The ideal tempo in terms of bpm (beats per minute) is 80–120, with the sweet spot at 85–100.

When looking for instrumental music for studying, seek out channels and playlists that are intentionally composed and curated as music to help you focus. Sometimes people default to classical music for studying, which may or may not be effective, depending on the attributes of the music; for example, a stirring aria or the soaring high notes of a violin may stop you in your tracks to listen, which is not the goal when you’re trying to boost your productivity.

In addition to curated focusing music, genres that may include some great deep focus music include lo-fi hip hop, piano music for studying, ambient music, fantasy tavern music, and some soundtracks from single-player video games. The key to finding the perfect concentration music for work is enough rhythm, groove, and aural interest to keep you motivated and engaged, but not so much that you become distracted by the focus music itself.


Play music for focus and find your groove

Whether you’re looking for relaxing music for studying, concentration music, or ADHD focus music, there is music for focus available that can help you stay engaged and productive. To some extent it’s a matter of trial and error to find the music that works best for you—explore what’s out there and enjoy the ride.


Keep reading to learn more about focus and wellness music, and how powers apps that support health and fitness.