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Many studies have suggested that music can help boost everything from productivity to special-temporal reasoning to problem-solving skills. Of course, whether or not music can help someone get work done depends largely on they type of work being done and the individual. Someone that needs absolute silence to think probably won’t benefit from listening to music while working, but for the rest, there are some really great options available for boosting focus:
Often touted for its ability to improve mood, productivity, special-temporal reasoning, the ability to think long term, and more, classical music might be just what some people need to get through the day. You can find a wide variety of classical music for free online from sources like Wikipedia, Musopen, and Pandora. If you want to mix things up, try listening to modern groups like Vitamin String Quartet, which covers popular songs in a classical way.
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Electronic / Ambient
Ambient music can be great for those who want to try listening to music but get distracted easily. Designed to play in the background but not really draw your attention, ambient music can still give your brain all the positive benefits of music without pulling you away from the task at hand. Some of the most popular ambient/chillout albums include Ambient 1: Music for Airports, Play by Moby, Curious Liquid by Weatherman, Moon Safari by Air, Protection by Massive Attack, and Simple Things by Zero 7. If you just want to stream, check out Soma.fm streams such as Groove Salad, Drone Zone, and Secret Agent. Digitally Imported is also a great resource.
Have you ever noticed how a bustling coffee shop, with all its background noise, can actually help you focus on tasks? If so, colored noise might be just what you need. Noise generators can help mask distracting sounds in the office—phone calls, chatting coworkers, outside noise—by making a more soothing background sound more prominent. There are a number of helpful apps and websites, such as Coffeeivity, Rainy Café, and Chatterblocker, which imitate the noises you might hear in certain environments (a coffee shop, for example). You can also try out SimplyNoise, which creates a more generic noise pattern.