When it’s time to work, you turn off distractions and get your workspace ready, only to find that you can’t get anything done or make any progress on your to-do list. So, if that’s the case, you might need to turn music on, rather than off. That’s because studies show that listening to music can lead to greater focus and productivity. 

Neuromusicology is a research field that examines how the nervous system reacts when you listen to music. Once you hear music, the sound engages with different brain areas, including those responsible for cognitive functions.

Music engages each individual’s brain differently, depending on their musical training and / or personal experiences with music. However, researchers do agree that for the most part, most people can improve their efficiency when listening to music.

But not all music will have the same impact. In fact, certain types of music go better with certain activities.

For example, if you’re having trouble completing repetitive, “mindless” tasks, listening to music with lyrics is a great way to engage your mind and boost your productivity.

When it comes time to focus, ambient noise might be better, however. This 2006 study found that ambient noise, or background music, with indistinguishable words, has been shown to help arouse an individual’s mental state.

Music can even help doctors in a surgical setting, as this study discovered. Here, surgeons who listen to music while performing surgery, were both faster and more accurate than surgeons in the no-music control condition. This was especially true if surgeons chose the music themselves.

So, if you’re not as productive as you want to be, create a playlist that will help you focus and knock everything off your to-do list.