Music is not just something that we listen to when we’re bored at the backseat while on a road trip. It can calm us down, get us pumped up, or, more interestingly, help us work. We give you a quick guide on creating that perfect productivity playlist depending on the task at hand.

Light tasks

Say, for example, that you need to do some light work in the morning like replying to emails. For repetitive tasks, studies show that one’s performance generally improves while there’s music around. This is from the observation that when rock or classical music was playing in the background, it’s easier for you to get a grasp on figures and letters compared to when there was none. According to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience of Behaviour and Physiology, it’ll even make you work and finish faster. So the next time you do something monotonous, you can choose to play either some Metallica or Mozart to give you that extra speed boost.

Productivity playlist (1)

When concentration is required

When you have some studying to do or if you’re working on a project that requires a lot of thinking and planning, try going for classical music or anything instrumental. The absence of any lyrics makes you focus more on what you’re currently doing and minimizes what experts call cognitive interference. Basically, it’s when your attention is somehow divided between two tasks—like when your brain is learning a new concept while also trying to understand the lyrics of the playing song. This explains why Spotify’s “Intense Studying” playlist comprises mostly of classical songs.

Tasks that you love doing

Remember how good it felt when you were doing something you really liked and it was even accompanied by one of your favorite songs? It was pretty much like being in a music video of your own life. Didn’t it feel like you could do things better? A study from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston backs this up when they concluded that they saw improved performances from plastic surgeons just by playing their jams while working—even if they were under pressure. This is probably the reason why a lot of boxers I know listen to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” while training.

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When creativity is needed

If a creative idea is what’s demanded of you, listening to songs like Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” might just help. Yes, you read that right. This is because, according to research commissioned by streaming music service Spotify, the genre of the song doesn’t play much of a big part in your being creative. According to lead researcher Emma Gray, a clinical psychologist from the British CBT & Counseling Service, tracks that have 50–80 beats per minute aid our mind in reaching the alpha state where we are calm, but at the same time, alert. The report also includes songs like Katy Perry’s “Firework,” David Guetta’s “Titanium,” and Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors.”