While a lot of us might use music to block out distracting background noises or keep us entertained while working, did you know that sound can also boost focus and productivity? That’s right; with a careful choice of soundtrack at work, you can increase your concentration levels and get those items ticked off the ‘to-do’ list in record time.

Of course, this isn’t the case for every type of music, so we’ve come up with a few ideas of things you could try listening to next time you need to get your head down. Here are our top suggestions.

Nature sounds

Who doesn’t love the sounds of nature? Birds tweeting and waves lapping have got to be some of the most relaxing sounds on earth. So, of course, it makes sense that nature sounds should help you find your Zen when you’ve got a stack of work in front of you waiting to get done. Spotify has tons of playlists dedicated to nature sounds, so have a browse and find a soundtrack that takes your fancy. Could it be the peaceful waterfall or dawn chorus that gets your brain going?

Ambient electronic music

While you may believe silence is best for optimal concentration – and be surprised that electronic music has made this list – several studies have found that listening to music with minimal beats and rhythms can improve performance. In fact, a recent study on sound found that two-thirds of people turn to music to relax. The overall mood of ambient electronic music is very calming, great for soothing any stress or anxiety. What’s more, electronic music is thought to stimulate creativity. Try to aim for tracks with medium sounds and avoid those with extreme highs and lows – the mellower, the better.

Classical music

The theory that classical music can help people perform tasks more efficiently has been dubbed the “Mozart effect”. It suggests that listening to the work of classical composers can enhance brain activity and improve health and wellbeing. The genre is known for its calming effect on the listener, which could reduce any stress that could be standing in the way of you getting work done. The absence of lyrics is also likely a contributing factor to its ability to help people focus; unlike other genres, the potential distraction of lyrics isn’t present in pieces of classical music.

White noise

Background sounds distracting you from the task at hand? Pop on some white noise to drown them out. White noise refers to an ongoing sound that involves every frequency the human ear can hear, all played randomly at the same amplitude. By letting out a steady, unwavering sound, it has a masking effect on other sounds, which could help you focus. White noise can include radio/TV static, or a whirring fan.

Pink noise

Pink noise is the same as white noise and can be used to mask unwanted sounds in your environment. The difference between white noise and pink noise is that pink noise has fewer higher frequencies, and emphasizes lower pitches. It’s considered to be the more soothing version of the two, and can include things such as leaves rustling and heavy rainfall. Not only can it drown out distractions, but studies on pink noise have found that it can improve short- and long-term memory.

Whatever you like to listen to, putting on some sounds can help you boost productivity at work.

Sophie Deering is a freelance writer, exploring topics surrounding business, well-being and technology.