All of us who can listen to music while working have a blessing and I am sorry for all those who are not so lucky. Of course, there are hundreds of thousands of studies and research supporting the productivity benefits of listening to music. We all love being able to listen to our favorite tunes, it gives us encouragement, energy, improves our mood, makes work less tedious. It even makes you like your coworkers.
If you are a video editor, I am very sorry that you do not know what it feels like.
Being a professional amateur writer (yes, I just made that title up), I have the joy of being able to sit down and play my best playlists. I let the music inspire my fingers to spit out the best texts anyone has ever read while looking for reviews of the Roomba vacuum cleaner they are thinking of buying.
However, not everything is easy peasy. When writing, I have to be careful about the music I choose, because if I listen to my favorite songs, I might just end up singing the lyrics and doing air guitar and desk drums instead of working. You must play it smart when using music as a boost for your productivity because otherwise, it will become a distracting factor.
I envy illustrators and graphic designers who don’t need to focus so deeply on their work and can listen to Spotify’s top 50. At least I am not a video editor.
So during my years as a blogger and SEO writer, I have explored all the musical options that exist while working. My goal is to find the tunes and rhythms that most improve my productivity and my mood. I went from instrumental bands, lo-fi hip hop, soft jazz, binaural beats (which work really well and I’ve already written about them), classical music, and of course the famous Peaceful Piano playlist from Spotify. Some worked well for me, but after a while, it got boring and repetitive. So after a lot of trial and error, I managed to find the perfect option to listen to while you work. And without further ado, since you know what I’m talking about because you read the title: if you want to unlock all the capabilities of your brain, what you should do is listen to video game soundtracks.
The science behind video game soundtracks
I’m not kidding when I tell you that this is probably the best life hack I can give you. First, if you work in an office you should not hear your coworkers blow their noses or other annoying noises. Listening to music, especially using headphones, is a very easy way to tell your brain to focus on the task you are doing.
But why video game soundtracks? Think about it for a moment, video game soundtracks are supposed to be complements to the gaming experience, but they should not overshadow the other elements. Of course, all together create a favorable gaming environment, but the main thing the player should focus on is the story and the progress of the game. Soundtracks are made to enhance gameplay features, without distracting the player from the task that they must complete.
That’s you, the player who is figuring out how to make the end-of-the-month accounts add up correctly. That is your mission, and video game soundtracks will help you focus squarely to succeed.
Jump into a space odyssey, or ride into battle in WWI
If your job allows you to listen to music but still requires you to focus, you should avoid mixed signals that confuse your brain and you will not be able to function well in your work.
Video game soundtracks are especially effective in this because all their characteristics are favorable for your mind to enter the zone and without you realizing it, an hour has passed and you completed that 10-page essay. The benefits of these soundtracks are various, but the main ones are the following:
They are completely instrumental. The problem with listening to your favorite songs in the office is that you will always be tempted to sing the lyrics, and if you don’t resist, your work is interrupted. Even if you don’t feel like singing or humming the song, listening to people while you work is not a good idea. Your brain is designed to constantly detect human signals, faces, and voices.
You may not realize it, but listening to words and sentences will always keep your attention on the language your brain hears, so you will never reach 100% focus on your mission for the day.
Soundtracks never or rarely include voices, or at least no singing voices. So instrumental music is the best way to avoid distractions. But… movie soundtracks don’t include lyrics either, why not listen to Hans Zimmer’s Inception OST instead? I’m actually a BIG fan of movie soundtracks and the genius Zimmer, actually, I used them to work for a long time, but I’ll tell you why it’s not the best option.
Video game soundtracks do not have sudden volume spikes. While watching a movie, the background music can play a much bigger role in the plot, which is why these can go from slow, soothing tones to loud and epic war hymns from one second to the next. These drastic changes can easily knock you out of the zone, which is what we don’t want.
In video games, the music can go from calm to exciting, but it does so gradually so that you don’t even notice the changes.
They are gradual, but they stimulate you. Now you might be thinking “classical music is instrumental and doesn’t have such abrupt changes, why don’t I listen to Chopin or Motzart better?” I highly recommend listening to classical music because it is very useful, but video game soundtracks have an advantage.
A stage or mission during a game can last HOURS, especially if you keep dying over and over again. Therefore, the background music cannot be very monotonous, because it would become annoying after listening to it for two hours. Video game soundtracks are varied, they flow in different tones and rhythms to keep the brain stimulated. They do not have abrupt changes in volume but they do not bore you after a few minutes either. It is this stimulus that promotes focus and concentration during problem-solving.
The best video game soundtracks to work with
If you have a favorite video game, probably the best option is to start there. If you are not a pro gamer, but still want to try it, these are some of the best soundtracks that will help you study or work.
This is the game that introduced me to appreciating video game soundtracks. In Journey no one speaks, there is no narrator, there are no fierce boss fights, you just have to solve a few puzzles and enjoy the relaxing and ethereal atmosphere and visuals that the game creates.
This game is from the same developers as Journey, so they repeated a great job on the soundtrack. In this case, you are a diver who must explore the depths of the ocean, discovering new marine species and solving puzzles to maintain the balance of life in the sea.
The Microsoft classic features space battles and a war between races and planets. Its soundtracks are just as epic and exciting. I specifically recommend the music of HALO 4.
Portal is a game where you don’t have to fight, shoot or run away, you just have to think. It is one of the most popular problem-solving and puzzle games and its soundtrack should improve concentration. By spending hours trying to find the solution in each stage, the soundtrack is made to focus deeply.
The Legend of Zelda
There isn’t much to say about this iconic video game saga. Its plots of exploration and lengthy missions cannot demand better than an orchestral and captivating soundtrack. Any of their games features amazing music, but my personal pick is the Ocarina of Time OST.
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