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16 Spotify Playlists To Turn To When You Can’t Focus

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When you have things to do but your mind is more interested in chasing unrelated thoughts or looking for any excuse to procrastinate, it can take an arsenal of resources to get you back on track. Lucky for you, Spotify has lots of productivity playlists that'll help you focus when you're feeling foggy and indecisive about your music choices. They'll lasso your attention and maybe even make you more interested in the work you're facing.

According to a February 2020 study published in Frontiers in Psychology, high-tempo music (over 170 beats per minute, aka most pop songs) could have a psychophysiological effect on endurance exercise. This means that if you listen to high-tempo music while exercising, you could be both physically and mentally more likely to stave off fatigue. So, if intense and up-beat music can potentially help people stay focused on their fitness efforts, there's reason to believe that music could have a psychophysiological effect on productivity efforts too.

While classical music might be one of the most popular productivity inducing options, there are a variety of alternative types of music that will bring your attention to your work and keep you energized and engaged. From low-fi hip hop to sci-fi soundtracks, you can find focus-grabbing soundscapes that can make productivity mode attainable, even when it feels ~really~ far off.

1. Video Game Soundtracks

You know that feeling you get when you're playing a video game, and you're more focused on staying alive and achieving your tasks than anything? The music is part of that. Pretend your tasks are of video-game level importance by listening to these soundtrack songs.

2. Mozart Playlist

If classical music gets you in the zone, this epic Mozart list will get you through whatever complicated tasks you have ahead of you, with gusto.

3. Sci-Fi Soundtracks

These soft, mixed sounds are eerie and atmospheric, but they're not quite interesting enough to pull your attention from your work. This playlist will fill your ears with sound, while giving your mind room to focus on something else.

4. Epic & Intense Classical

If you have an important task ahead of you — be it a giant pile of laundry or an assignment that was due yesterday – sometimes a little bit of important sounding music can help you take it more seriously.

5. Reading Classical

This low-key classical music playlist will set a studious mood, without relaxing you too much. There's definitely a fine line between classical music that gets you going and classical music they gets you snoozing. This list features the perfect middle ground that's helpful for reading.

6. Thomas Newman Soundtrack Pieces

Thomas Newman's compositions are gentle, and complement a myriad of activities. When you listen to a movie soundtrack while you work, it can make it feel like you're part of a movie, which makes the task more profound.

7. Explosions In The Sky Playlist

This band creates instrumental music that has all of the energetic and intense notes of popular music, without any of the vocal tracks to distract you. It's the perfect compromise for when you want to listen to a band, but don't want to sing along.

8. Alpha Brainwaves Playlist

Alpha brainwaves are said to boost productivity, and increase creative thinking. The theory is that your brain is at its most relaxed state when Alpha waves are present, so by listening to Alpha waves, you might be encouraging that state.

9. Binaural Beats Playlist

According to Psychology Today, binaural beats are described as "a technique of combining two slightly different sound frequencies to create the perception of a single new frequency tone." Essentially, when you listen to the combined sounds, your brain slips into a chilled out mode where you're less likely to look for ways to procrastinate.

10. Low-Fi HipHop

When you need a little bit of energy, but don't want your music to amp you up so much that you neglect your task to groove, low-fi hip hop is a great compromise. There's a fun beat, but the vibe is still chill enough to keep you at your desk.

11. Jazz Study Music

Sometimes you just need to make your routine more interesting. If you're home on a Friday night trying to get work done while everyone you know is out having fun, turn on some jazz, light candles, and make your responsibilities more appealing.

12. Philip Glass Playlist

Phillip Glass's orchestral compositions (The Truman Show, The Secret Window, Candyman) are so progressive and propelling, it's just about impossible to listen to them and do nothing. The temp is fast, the instruments are excitable, and listening to it is like a very euphonic nudge to do what you need to do.

13. Hans Zimmer Playlist

Hans Zimmer's compositions (Inception, Gladiators, The Dark Knight) are intense, rhythmic, and always bursting with power. Lean into the epic nature of these pieces and blast through your work with vengeance.

14. Meditations For Focus

Sometimes listening to music while you work can be distracting. Instead, prep for productivity with a mindful guided meditation that will help you get focused before you sit down to do the work.

15. Energizing Music Playlist

If you're having trouble sitting still and focusing on a task, sometimes the best thing to do is get up and turn up the music. This playlist of high intensity energizing music will make you dance, so lean into the beat and shake it out. After a solid dance sesh you might be ready for plug back in for real.

16. Productivity Podcasts

If being productive doesn't come easy to you, you're not alone. This playlist of productivity podcasts will not only inspire you to get focused, but give you the tools you need to get there.

If music, meditation, and podcasts aren't helping you to be more productive, try putting your earbuds on noise cancellation mode and blocking everything out or listening to white noise. Depending on what work you have ahead of you, you might need to try a few different methods to find what's right for you.

Studies referenced:

Maria, V., Johnny, Iuliano, Enzo, Paolo, L., Dražen, … Andrea. (2020, January 10). The Psychophysiological Effects of Different Tempo Music on Endurance Versus High-Intensity Performances. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00074/full