The best music to help you focus

Music is a performance-enhancement drug. There's a reason athletes listen to songs on repeat to pump them up before games. But music's effect on studying, writing, or doing office work is equally profound.

Music is known to increase your productivity by sharpening your focus and putting your brain into a flow state. However, it takes the right type of sound to help get concentrate on your studies and work.

Always do your best work

Focus@Will offers over 20 channels and thousands of hours of music that are scientifically optimized to help you focus and get stuff done.

Seriously, the app has some serious studies to prove it.

“We ask our users to rate their productivity during each session, and we’ve found that the average productivity in a one-hour focus@will session is 75% – this is far above the productivity most people report in an hour without focus@will.”

A gif of a record spinning with a brain on the vinyl
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see the disclosure for more info.

I use the Uptempo channel at work when I need to filter out distractions and help push me through reading hundreds of emails. However, I turn on the Ambient playlist with medium intensity when I want to get into a contemplative state to journal or blog.

You'll be amazed at how a little hum of music can make your more productive. I'm listening to the Cafe Focus channel now as I type this post!

Pick your focus channel to hear a sample

Music = neurological focus power

“Music is part of being human,” Oliver Sacks wrote in Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. And the right music, customized to supercharge your happy work creativity, can make a huge difference in your workday!

I recommend that you give Focus@Will a try on the computer first since it seems to work best when you can toggle between focus channels to find one that fits your work habits. But the complimentary app works just as well.

You can sign up to Focus@Will today and get two free weeks. If you see the increased focus you're looking for, I suggest leveling up with the annual subscription since it's ultimately cheaper than month-to-month.

So get stuff done while making better use of your time. Reduce your distractions. Be more creative. Always do your best work. And give your mind the boost it needs.

Get focused, today.

You may also like:

Brian Eno on what he learned from David Bowie in making art

The ‘write what you know’ trope works because it’s easier to write the truth. But what’s authentic isn’t always what’s best for the art.

David Bowie modified his voice when he sang “I’m Afraid of Americans.” He wanted to make sure the tone matched up with the voice of the character (himself) portraying it. He interpreted music through motion. Brian Eno said that Bowie did what was best for the song, not clinging to the usual memoir approach of a singer.

“A lot of people think that singers should always be sincere, that it has to be their own soul coming out. That’s b — — — -. What you’re really doing is working like a playwright. You’re making little plays and the singer is the lead character.”

Brian Eno

Eno encourages fictional storytelling. Making art is an act. It’s supposed to be fantasy. But some artists think that the truth is what sets them free and leave it to their fans are there to sort it out.

“It’s that ridiculous teenage idea that when Mick Jagger sings, he’s telling you something about his own life. It’s so arrogant to think that people would want to know about it. This is my problem with Tracey Emin. Who f****** cares.”

Brian Eno

Art breaks the rules. It takes inspiration from the real world to create something new. It dances with fear. Artists continue dreaming into adulthood, without taking everything so seriously.

“Children learn through play, adults learn through art.”

Eno’s modus operandi it to make stuff that’s “a continuation of what we do as children.” He recently released a new album on Warp Records called The Ship. He also created a ‘visual music’ light piece called The Zenith. Eno creates things he wished existed.

Both Eno and Bowie teach us to have fun with our curiosity by showing the world what we can see in our heads.

You may also like:

Should we dumb down our art?

If our art is not resonating, we may need to dumb it down (or not).

“I dumb down for my audience. And double my dollars,” rhymes Jay-Z in his track ‘Moment of Clarity' from The Black Album.

If we follow Jay-Z's strategy, we'll almost certainly attract more attention.

People enjoy things they are familiar with — whether it's a popular style beat, expression, or cliched Instagram pose. Social media helps solidify the harmonization of tastes.

But we live in the best possible age to be weird and eclectic.

While the internet rewards those who play it safe with likes and shares — it is in the effort to be genuinely different that one attracts a more ardent following.

Witness Beeple – the graphic artist has created a new piece of art every day for twelve years whether it “sucks ass” or not. And his creative infectiousness spread, so much that he caught the eye of Louis Vuitton.

Our creative work is rarely popular. As Seth Godin says, “The less reassurance we can give you the more important the work is.”

Sophistication doesn't scale. But that doesn't mean we should cheapen our work to manufacture the hits — if we're lucky enough to have one. Produce something for the masses and we'll be stuck at the hamster wheel of the same canvass forever.

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

Kurt Vonnegut

In this age, we're better off making for ourselves first and then marketing our work to the micro-market. Seeking out uniqueness is important, especially when it's so easy to adopt the conformist style.

As makers, we must remain unpredictable and experimental, never leaving our authenticity open to doubt.

You may also like:

The music in our heads

The brain is an unfettered motor.

One of the best ways to quiet the monkey mind is by listening to music.

Music helps people get out of their own heads. When listening to music, people not only relax but they feel obliged to take more risks. Music galvanizes humans into an unconscious zone of action.

Athletes pre-game to music to drown out distractions so they can mentally focus on the game. Listening to sound can help you run more, focus better, and put one in a zone of cognitive flow.

Artists listen to music to help them plunge inside their consciousness. Instrumentals turn the mind into a conqueror of thought, not just a tourist.

In such a way, sound is a magical elixir of auditory drunkenness. It helps remove hesitancy by turning off the resistance to our surroundings. Music quiets the amygdala so we can dance with fear.

Everything is mental. But music turns off the brain. We listen to music to tame the chorus of thought in our heads.

You may also like:

The obsession with Kate Bush, explained

kate bush eat the music tricky

I first heard of artist Kate Bush on Tricky’s Back to Mine album in 2003. The former Massive Attack frontman also had this to say about the singer:

“I don’t believe in god, but if I did, [Kate Bush’s] music would be my Bible.”

Watch any of her iconic music videos. Her unique fashion sense and dances inspired the likes of Bjork and Tori Amos. Like David Bowie, she interpreted music as an act and sang and danced in a way that befitted the character of the song. So why wasn’t she a star like Bowie? One of her biggest admirers, Andre 3000 of Outkast, once explained:

“Kate Bush’s music opened my mind up. She was so bugged-out, man, but I felt her. She’s so f*ckin’ dope, so underrated and so off the radar.”

Before Bush became a recluse, she made 50 demo tapes by the age of fifteen, got signed, and eventually went on tour in 1979 to promote her first album The Kick Inside. As Emmanuel Happsis writes for KQED writes:

“And then she stopped touring completely, as if to say, I don’t need your validation. I will release life-changing music on my own schedule whenever I want and you will flake on your friends to stay home and cry to it.”

Like the release of any new iPhone, her life secrecy inspired ever more interest. She even made fans wait 12 years between album releases — she released Aerial in 2005 after 1993's The Red Shoes. And finally, 35 years later, she’s back on tour in London.

Bush took an unusual, slow route to making music – making her fanbase beg for her reappearance. After a long wait, it is a relief to have her back.

Do yourself a favor and catch up on everything in ‘Kate Bush: A Crash Course for the Non-Believer.’

You may also like:

Stuck in our own heads — is that such a bad thing?

If we remove the music at a fashion show it'd feel dull. No one wants to face the nakedness of noise.

If we put a person in a room with only a shock machine studies show that they'd rather zap themselves to stay bored.

Humans crave entertainment. Social media is today's main elixir.

We're wired to dress up our environments with extra toppings, be they sounds or physical stimulants. When the sparks are absent, we have nothing left but the music of inner monologue playing between our ears.

While most people will do anything to avoid getting stuck in their own heads too long, the black hole of cognition is vital. Emptiness spawns the most august imagination.

The pain of thinking begets a pleasure of creative output. The fluff of ideas and self-discovery emerge from the magic lanterns of our brains.

gif by @jeremysengly

You may also like: