Tips & Guides / Digital Nomads

Good Music to Work to for Remote Workers

By Danielle Leigh | Jul 6, 2022
A remote worker smiles while working and listening to good music to work to.

As a remote worker, it can sometimes be difficult to stay productive when you’re trying to get stuff done. The hustle and bustle of coffee shops, hectic apartment living, and noisy coworking spaces can all get in the way of your concentration and overall productivity.

However, while noise can certainly be detrimental to your productivity, you might be surprised to learn that finding good music to work to can actually boost your energy levels, increase focus, and allow you to tune out all of the distractions around you and get your head down.

In fact, one UK study found that of 2,000 office workers, half of them prefer to listen to music while they work, and of those people, 40% believe that listening to music enables them to get more work done. Plus, 47% of them said that listening to music at work also reduces stress and improves their mood.

“Music has a very powerful impact on the brain. It affects mood, mental performance, and physical performance,” says psychologist Dr. Becky Spelman. “Many people find that listening to certain types of instrumental music can help them with their productivity levels. The music can function as a sort of ‘white noise’, canceling out potentially distracting ambient noise.”

So, now we know that music can enhance productivity, let’s take a closer look at just what types of music are best for getting work done when working from home

The best music to work to for productivity

1. Classical music

Not only is classical music known for being calming, relaxing, and a good stress reducer, but it can also help you work more efficiently.

In fact, listening to classical music can actually enhance your brain activity and increase your productivity. This is known as the “Mozart Effect,” and various studies have backed the claim that listening to just 10 minutes of classical music can enhance spatial-temporal performance, at least temporarily.

The calm, regular beat of most classical pieces also helps to lower your heart rate and moderate your pulse, making it easier to focus on the task at hand and stay productive.

Playlist suggestions:

  • Mozart
  • Bach
  • Tchaikovsky
  • Beethoven

2. Movie soundtracks

It might sound strange, but listening to your favorite movie soundtrack can also be a great choice for productivity music. Choosing a dramatic, epic soundtrack to listen to in the background can snap you out of any funk and have you alert and ready to change the world (or at least make it through that beast of a spreadsheet you have to put together).

Since these songs typically don’t contain lyrics, they’re less likely to distract you while you work.

Playlist suggestions:

  • “Pirates of the Caribbean”
  • “Dunkirk”
  • “Gladiator”
  • “The Social Network”

3. Video game soundtracks

Many people consider video games to be the total opposite of productivity, but listening to your favorite video game soundtrack while you work actually makes a lot of sense. Video game music has been composed specifically to allow you to concentrate on the task at hand and keep you engaged with whatever the game throws at you.

It often doesn’t contain distracting lyrics and tends to be fast-paced in order to keep you moving forward through the game. Much like in the workplace, this type of music sets you up for success as you defeat bosses, solve puzzles, and extricate yourself from whatever perilous situation you find yourself in.

Playlist suggestions:

  • “Assassin’s Creed”
  • “Skyrim”
  • “Halo”
  • “The Elder Scrolls”

4. Ambient music

Ambient music is a genre of music that is designed to be unobtrusive. Just think of background music in a waiting room or elevator music and you will know exactly what “ambient” means.

Brian Eno, creator of “Music for Airports” says, “Ambient music should be ignorable as it is interesting,” and that’s exactly what you need when you’re working on something that requires a lot of concentration.

Instrumental ambient music can act as a calming influence that gives you space to think, reduces your stress levels, and keeps you productive.

Playlist suggestions:

  • Brian Eno
  • William Basinski
  • Tim Hecker
  • Lawrence English

The best music to work to for energy

1. Upbeat, happy music

While the likes of Taylor Swift and Harry Styles may not be the best choice of music when you have a super difficult technical problem to solve, this type of feel-good music is great when you have a lot of mundane tasks to do and need a bit of a boost.

Upbeat popular music can give you a dopamine hit that will enable you to race through the most boring tasks without losing your will to live.

Pump-up music is best for data entry, responding to emails, and other routine tasks that can get old very quickly because it helps keep your energy high and increase focus and productivity—just be sure not to choose this type of music when you have to make a lot of cognitive decisions or solve complicated problems! The lyrics can get a tad distracting if you get too into your upbeat music.

Playlist suggestions:

  • Taylor Swift
  • Destiny’s Child
  • Imagine Dragons

2. Nostalgic songs

The songs we listened to when we were younger, especially in our teenage years, stay with us forever.

If you’re feeling a little stressed or overwhelmed, listening to music that makes you feel nostalgic can really help. These types of feel-good songs can calm you down and turn your anxiety into positive energy.

Playlist suggestions: Whatever you like! Think back to the anthems of your younger years and search “genre” + “playlist” on Spotify for your favorite music! For example, my nostalgic music would be emo music, so I would search for “emo playlist” on Spotify.

3. Epic music

Yes, there really is a genre of music called “epic” music!

Epic music is the kind of music you will find on rock albums and in action movies. It is full of bold sounds, heavy contrasts, and a gradual build-up of energy that makes you feel as though you are about to change the world! This is a great playlist to put on right before you’re about to head into a big presentation and need to pump yourself up.

Playlist suggestions:

  • “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
  • “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
  • “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin

Other sounds to consider listening to while you work

1. White noise

White noise may not be something you’d choose to listen to for pleasure, but it can really eliminate distractions and help you stay focused. In fact, researchers have found that a moderate amount of white noise can enhance creativity and improve imagination.

As remote workers, we often end up in noisy environments that can make it difficult to concentrate, but putting your headphones in and turning up the white noise will let you tune out your surroundings and do what you need to do.

Playlist suggestions:

  • TV static
  • Water boiling
  • Wood burning

2. Nature sounds

Sounds of birds singing, waves crashing and rain pouring can all enhance our cognitive function and ability to focus. Not only this, but research suggests that nature sounds can also improve our mood and general sense of well-being!

This could be due to the fact that we naturally feel calmer and more at peace when we are surrounded by nature, or simply because natural sounds help to mask the more traditional “office” sounds that we associate with stress.

Playlist suggestions:

  • Soft rain and gentle thunder
  • Crickets at night
  • Waves lapping the shore

3. Podcasts and audiobooks

Now, you may not want to listen to a podcast if you’re trying to write an article or solve a complex equation, but if you’re doing something mundane (and I mean really mundane), podcasts and audiobooks can be a great way to get through the working day.

For example, if you have to do a lot of repetitive tasks—such as manually retweeting or pinning social media posts—an interesting audiobook can be a lifesaver (ask me how I know!).

Playlist suggestions: Anything you’re interested in! From news and comedy to true crime, politics, and travel, there is a podcast or audiobook for anything.

Final thoughts

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this list of the various music genres that can help aid productivity.

If you are a remote worker, you may be interested in Landing, a living solution that enables you to travel and explore new cities while working remotely.

All Landing apartments have dedicated working spaces for remote workers to use, along with everything else you need to help you stay happy, productive, and comfortable while you work. Learn more about a Landing membership today!

Danielle Leigh

Danielle Leigh has been embracing the nomadic lifestyle for five years and is currently based in Spain. She runs a travel blog named Travelling Jezebel and has recently launched a new website for women who want to make money online. You can find it over at Not Your Boss Babe. When she isn't writing, she enjoys discovering new foods, watching true crime documentaries, and drinking wine.