The office is a distracting place. There's constant chatter, ringing phones, notifications and other sounds throughout the course of a workday that can throw off your productivity.
For many workers, music is the key to regaining that focus. According to producer and composer Michael Tyrell, the right playlist can help you concentrate on the task at hand by allowing your brain to follow along with the rhythms being played.
"[Playlists] decrease the amount of random distracting thoughts that would typically derail you during the course of the workday and allow you to deeply focus on the task at hand, giving you the boost you need to power through your work," Tyrell said.
"I often find myself needing music to drown out the noise of a busy office," added Mitchell Kwitek, an SEO specialist at Geek Powered Studios. "When ... it is hard to find a quiet place, I plug in my headphones and dive deep into chillwave." [See Related Story: Turn It Up: Playing Happy Music in the Office Boosts Teamwork]
The case for music in the office
Teresa Lesiuk, assistant professor and program director of the music therapy program at the University of Miami, focuses her research on how music affects workplace performance. In one study, Lesiuk found that those who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t, because the music improved their mood, the New York Times reported.
"When you're stressed, you might make a decision more hastily; you have a very narrow focus of attention," she told the Times. "When you're in a positive mood, you're able to take in more options."
Depending on where you work, some bosses allow headphones in the office. Other companies take it one step further: According to Zachary Chastaine, a technical writer at engineering firm SGW Designworks, his office holds an annual Metal Day on Nov. 11.
The event began when the employees, many of whom came from corporate environments, wanted to emphasize activities you can only do in a very small business.
"The one thing they could never do before starting their own business was blast hard-core metal at work — all day," Chastaine said. "The Metal Day mandate is to put together a playlist, bring in big speakers and ... vintage equipment, and play the list too loud for the entire day."
Though Metal Day may be a bit extreme for your office, entrepreneurs from a number of professions weighed in on the music that inspires their day. Below, we've compiled these songs into a Spotify playlist to get you motivated.
1. "Harder Better Faster Stronger" by Daft Punk. "I know this is such a cliché answer ... but it provides a nice metronome that gets you through your day. The message is driven into you over and over, which keeps me motivated and encourages me to stay focused." – David Blue, vice president and co-founder, Blue Moon Estate Sales
2. "If I Can't" by 50 Cent. "This song helps me stay on the grind and get things done. And if I can't do it, then it can't be done. When it comes to starting a business and being a rapper, there are a lot of parallels. If you don't stay on the grind, you'll never make it." – David Waring, co-founder, Fit Small Business
3. "The Nights" by Avicii. "I listen to this song every morning during my run. It's a motivational song and the lyrics really speak to me. It's all about being proud of what you accomplish in life. For me, it's an important reminder to always strive for the best, and happy with the life you lead." – Josh Cohen, CEO and founder, Junkluggers and Luggers Moving
4. "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson. "It's a song about self-reflection and seeing how a person fits into the community surrounding them. It reminds me that no matter what, it's important to remember where you came from." – Gus Shamieh, president and co-founder, CREAM
5. "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor. "Who isn’t motivated by 'Eye of the Tiger?' You can't beat the classics and it's the ultimate motivational song. Plus, I live in Philly and everyone knows this is one of Rocky's favorite songs." – Steve Vicario, COO, Cherry Blow Dry Bar
6. "Primal Scream" by Motley Crue. "In the song, there is a lyric that states: 'If you want to live life on your own terms/you gotta be willing to crash and burn,' followed by a killer drum pounding. This reminds me every day that you take the chances necessary to push through obstacles and get over yourself." – Mel O, CFP, Hot Moon Financial
7. "Out of Breath" by the Silversun Pickups. "This tune keeps me focused and motivated. It's also my favorite workout song." – Kevin Janosz, COO, Ritta
8. "Local" by Tycho. "I like listening to Tycho because it's calming without decreasing your alertness, interesting enough to keep your attention without diverting your focus from work, and since it's without lyrics it's much easier to focus on whatever task I have in front of me. The albums Dive, Epoch and Awake by Tycho make for a perfect work mix." – John Turner, CEO and founder, QuietKit
9. "Eyes on Fire" by Blue Foundation. "The song is calm enough to listen to at the office but still has a cool, melodic beat that keeps the workday going." – Brian Kelly, co-owner and event coordinator, Ticket2Events
10. "In All the Wrong Places" by Kero One. "It keeps me inspired to keep walking this entrepreneurial journey and measure success through my spiritual and family life." – Mike Koehler, president and chief strategist, Smirk New Media
11. "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing" by Jack Johnson. "I absolutely love to listen to music when working! On my playlist, you can find plenty of Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz to keep me focused with a smile on my face while I hammer through my day-to-day tasks." – Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation.com
12. "Doctor My Eyes" by Jackson Browne. "Whenever I am writing a blog article or other lengthy copy, I always turn to this upbeat track. It provides me with a catchy rhythm to type to; the track consists mostly of congas and a very percussive piano melody that is perfect to type along to." – James Nuttall, copywriter, Roman Blinds Direct
Follow the Spotify playlist here.