Music can be incredibly beneficial to various types of work, including coding. There have been studies on which types of music can help us focus better, feel less anxious, and relax after a stressful day. I’ve found five kinds of audio experiences that help me stay more productive at work, and there’s research to back that up.
Slow, Non-Lyrical Music
Slow music without lyrics can help you relax before or after a stressful meeting or day. I like to listen to classical music on my way to work to help me clear my mind in preparation for the day.
Upbeat, Happy Music
Upbeat music can help keep you happy and engaged. If I’m feeling more tired than usual, I’ll listen to pop music to help me wake up and focus on my work.
Music around 60 bpm
Music around 60 beats per minutes can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat. This creates alpha brain waves which are responsible for relaxation and creativity. Playing this kind of music may be especially helpful for designers working on a new problem and going through synthesis activities.
I like to listen to music around this tempo when I’m working on a complicated problem and need to think clearly. It seems to work just as well if the music is lyrical, and lyrics may help in the creative process, too.
Podcasts and Audiobooks
Studies have shown that it’s not just traditional forms of listening that can increase our focus. Podcasts and audiobooks can actually have the same effects. This is my favorite of all the categories. I listen to audiobooks almost every day while I’m working, and I find it helps me to stay more engaged with my work.
When in doubt about what to listen to at work, simply choose something that you enjoy. Working to music that you like can provide a lot of benefits, especially in terms of creativity.
Everyone is different, so it may take a little time to find the best type of music for the way you work. My recommendation would be to make a few playlists for different situations, and try them out while you’re working.