A Guide To Selecting The Best Music For Work – According To Science

There’s nothing more frustrating than forgetting your headphones. Why? because we know all too well that the music we listen to can make or break our day. It’s an understatement to say that music is a big part of our lives. But we now know that certain tunes can be more helpful than others depending on what type of work we’re doing.

Here is a guide to choosing the best anthems for productivity. Let’s unpack this.

Music is better than any drug

Tunes release dopamine in your brain; that feel-good chemical released when you eat delicious food, fall in love, or get heaps of likes on social media. It’s also released when you listen to music you like.

Here’s the thing, though: after a certain amount of pleasing stimuli, that dopamine doesn’t do its job anymore. You build up a tolerance of sorts, otherwise known as the law of diminishing returns. But with music, not so! It’s one of the easiest and healthiest ways to get a dopamine fix.

There’s a delicate balance between inescapable boredom and accidental rocking out.

So how do you pick what to listen to?

For simple tasks choose music you know and love

If you’re planning on doing something mundane and repetitive – think filling in spreadsheets, invoicing, filling in documents, sorting through your computer – pop on something you know and like. Something that will make you feel comfortable and happy in your tasks.

Learning something new? Ditch the lyrics


When you’re in the middle of fine-tuning a new a new process, desperately trying to study up on new information or trying to commit some difficult knowledge to memory, it’s best to avoid lyric-driven music. Try something instrumental or not too wordy.

If the work is fun, rock out

Have you been tasked with finding photos of puppies? Time to rock out.

Need inspiration?Aim for 50 to 80 beats per minute

It’s when faced with the prospect of needing to come up with the creative goods, that music selection seems most vital. Well, the good news is, all you need to do is keep the music between 50 and 80 beats per minute. Think Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ or Disney’s ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’, for your reference.


This handy table by Corey Blaz explains it all!

Now, commit this daily reminder to memory: phone, keys, wallet, tunes.


Esther is a freelance writer, editor, publicist, content maker and dog patter. She has written for Interview Magazine, New York Press, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, and local titles Broadsheet, Beat and Tone Deaf. Please tag her in photos of dogs @esthersaurus.