The sound of productivity: 10 YouTube playlists to get in the zone at work
There are numerous studies proving that listening to music at work can make you more productive and inspire you to complete more challenging tasks.
In fact, according to Dr. Teresa Lesiuk’s research on the effects of music listening on work performance, people that listened to music while doing work completed their tasks more quickly, and had better ideas than those who didn’t.
However, not all music is equally effective for boosting your work performance. On the contrary, some tracks can actually decrease your productivity and make you less attentive to details. According to studies, in certain situations, listening to music can stall your thinking processes as they interfere with your reading comprehension and make you process information slower.
Usually, this happens when there’s a mismatch between the task you’re focusing on and the music you’re playing in the background.
For music to increase productivity, it should follow a set of specific rules (as determined by Dr. Haake, the author of The Sound of Productivity):
- Simple musical structure. Who doesn’t love a complex, multilayered sound with dozens of different components? Apparently, those are only good when you don’t mind getting lost in the sound. When completing work tasks, less is more: it’s better to opt for songs with simpler structures and fewer chords. Otherwise, you risk getting distracted.
- No lyrics. Lots and lots of talking is one of the most common problems at crowded offices. Even if you don’t actively participate in colleague conversations, you still get distracted by what they’re saying. It’s human nature to pay attention to words. The same happens when you’re listening to music with complicated lyrics — by focusing on the message of the song, you involuntarily interrupt your train of thought.
- Something you like. If you absolutely hate the sound of the music you’re listening to… You’ll only focus on how irritating it sounds and not the task you have to do. Your personal preference plays a huge role in making you more or less productive.
- Something you choose yourself. As a rule of thumb, people tend to get distracted by the music they are imposed on and have no control over.
We did, however, use “should follow” and not “must follow” for a reason. At the end of the day, it all boils down to your specific listening habits and the type of the task you have to complete.
If you’re used to listening to a specific genre of music at work, changing it up can be more distracting than beneficial. In that case, you should simply carry on with what has proven to be effective, no matter how untraditional it is.
This is why we didn’t limit ourselves to a single genre when putting together this list of YouTube playlists to get in the zone at work. Instead, we made it as diverse as possible — go through the whole article to find what hits the closest to home and give it a good, productive listen.
Classical Music for Reading — Mozart, Chopin, Debussy, Tchaikovsky… by HALIDONMUSIC
You saw it coming — there’s no way we would’ve started this list off with anything other than a classical music playlist. At the end of the day, classical music for working is… A classic (pun intended!)
A number of academic studies show that Bach, Vivaldi, and Mozart are ideal companions for your working sesh. Classical music is capable of calming you down, improving your mood, and making you more receptive to new information. In fact, there’s a study that shows that baroque music increased mood and concentration for seven out of eight radiologists.
If your work is equally as challenging, press play on this mix.
LoFi Hip Hop Radio — Beats to Relax/Study to by Lofi Girl
Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned music fan or a newbie in the world of musical productivity, it’s likely you’ve heard of lofi hip hop. These “chill relaxed beats to relax/study to” have had a chokehold on our society since 2015, and are here to stay.
Fun fact: LoFi Hip Hop Beats is the most popular search request among people looking for music to work to.
One of the best things about this station is that all the music they play doesn’t have any lyrics, so you can listen to it while reading, too. Nothing is going to distract you. The unobtrusive, melodic, chill vibes of this 24/7 YouTube radio station can be a great background for your work endeavors — tune in!
(8D AUDIO) lofi hip hop mix – Beats to Relax/Study by KhaZé
If you liked the previous playlist, add this one to your “Play next” schedule. Same vibe, but eight times as immersive of an experience; 8D audio is here to rock your world. Trust us, if you haven’t listened to 8D music, you will be surprised.
8D audio uses the principles of binaural recording to trick our brains into thinking that sounds are coming from different places in three-dimensional space.
VistaCreate Pro Tip: For the best results, put on headphones when playing this two-hour-long mix.
Morning Jazz Coffee Shop Ambience by RelaxingJazz BGM
We bet you know at least one freelancer that religiously goes to Starbucks (or any other coffee shop) to sit there for 5 to 8 business hours and do their work while sipping on somewhat overpriced coffee. It’s a genre.
But there’s a good explanation as to why coffee shops are so popular among people with laptop-based jobs aka well-paid geniuses or geniuses-to-be. Coffee shops have their own ambiance that can apparently increase your creativity.
In fact, there are several studies that swear by “the coffee shop effect” and claim that the right combination of jazz music, and faint sounds of baristas banging coffee grounds out of a grinder while chatting to customers is the formula for success.
However, you don’t necessarily have to wake up every day and go to a coffee shop to reach your peak productivity. In fact, now that a lot of us are coming back to offices and can no longer work from home, the memory of a fresh croissant at a local coffee shop in the morning is nothing more than a sweet thing of the past.
But you can recreate it from the comfort of your home or your office desk. Just pour yourself a cup of coffee and blast this video.
TRAPPIN IN ＪＡＰＡＮ 3 by R y a n C e l s i u s ° S o u n d s
If you’re interested in chill beats, but can’t stomach jazz, classical tunes, or lofi, there’s something for you in store, too. Check out trap mixes by Trappin in Japan — they’re a golden find for all hip-hop lovers out there!
There are already a couple of dozen mixes available on the account, but we strongly recommend starting your journey into the world of mellow sounds from the third edition. Since the day it was posted back in 2017, the mix has garnered over 7 million listens, and continues to be a fan favorite. Fun, enjoyable, and rhythmic, this playlist can become a perfect addition to your workdays.
House Music 1990s MegaMix by DJ Paul S
Just slightly over an hour long, this playlist will give you the energy for the whole day because, as we all know, there’s no music better than the 90s house tunes. This particular playlist features all the era classics: Gypsy Woman, Show Me Love, and the rest, all mixed to perfection!
Beware, though! There’s a high chance you’ll be bobbing your head a tad too intensely, so make sure you don’t get any raised eyebrows from your co-workers when you blast it at work.
P.S. This playlist is versatile; it doesn’t have to get paused after you’re done with your workload for the day — you can keep it with you after work, too.
Liquid Drum & Bass Mix by Hybrid Minds by UKF Drum & Bass
Drum & Bass isn’t for everyone, we know that. It can be somewhat aggressive, especially for when you’re trying to work. Liquid Drum & Bass, on the other hand, is a whole different story. It combines the fast BPM of a traditional DNB track to keep you in an upbeat mood, and the melodic vocals soften you up.
Hybrid Minds know their craft well, too: the transitions are so smooth, the whole hour-and-a-half mix sounds like one long song. You won’t notice how quickly time passes!
KI/KI [acid set] at Intercell – Acid Night 2020 by Intercell
And if you don’t mind aggressive music at work… This techno playlist is exactly what you need to get you in the mood for work. Perfect for when you have a task you need to complete quickly, for when you desperately need to wake up and get a grip on yourself, and when you need to liven up a repetitive, boring job. The energy never stops building in this one.
POMODORO TIMER – 25 MINUTES (WITH LOFI MUSIC) by Focus Time
The Pomodoro technique is one of the most well-known time management methods: instead of procrastinating and postponing your task indefinitely, you dive into work headfirst, but only for 25 minutes. After that period is over, you take a 5-minute break — completely work-free! — and then right back to work.
A full Pomodoro cycle consists of 4 intervals. To work correctly, they all need to be strictly timed.
Unfortunately, a lot of people fail to use the Pomodoro technique correctly because they fall victim to distractions when they check up on the timer. Avoid this with this Pomodoro timer playlist that kills two birds with one stone: you get a great selection of lofi music to play in the background while you’re working, and a countdown timer to track your intervals.
VistaCreate Pro Tip: Make sure to listen to this playlist in your headphones, ideally, noise-canceling ones. The DJ spiced the mix up with plenty of voluminous, 3D sounds that are guaranteed to shield you from the outside world and get you in the working mood.
White Noise Black Screen | Sleep, Study, Focus | 10 Hours by Relaxing White Noise
And sometimes… The best music to play while working is no music at all. This 10-hour white noise playlist can help you relax and focus on the task at hand, all without the risk of getting distracted by funky tunes or catchy lyrics. The screen is black too: maximum visual and aural detox to get your task done!