Using Music to Focus on Your Work


Today you’ll learn how using music can help you work.

When you need to concentrate, distractions can be bad – challenging at the least – the phone, the kids, the TV. But studies have shown that music can help you focus. For me, it creates a mood, a little cocoon in which I can focus on what I am doing. I don’t really think about what’s playing. It background, but it keeps me there, in the moment.

Create a play list.

Try it. Create a play list on Pandora, Spotify, or iTunes. Listen to your favorite local radio station from the Internet (or the radio) or web sites like Get out your collection of CDs and relive old times.

Use different types of music.

Similarly, try different types of music. See how classical, new age or blues can change the environment and your level of focus. Mid-afternoon slump – need to find some energy? Try turning up the volume, getting up and singing a few tunes! Find what works best for you.


In addition, for more on the subject, I was lucky enough to attend an event featuring Julie Morgenstern and here’s what I wrote about it:

Let’s use music to make the work you do work better for you.

We are going to use some musical terms to define some of your work today. It doesn’t matter what kind of work you do, the everyday tasks associated with work are similar to most everyone. Grouping like tasks is a basic principle used to be productive. Is this task short and sweet? Staccato! or is this task longer? Legato!

I recently had the pleasure of learning from best selling author and organizing guru, Julie Morgenstern. She discussed some basic principles of time management: write things down, time scheduling, making decisions and executing a plan. Julie used musical metaphors as a way to illustrate tasks that can and should be grouped together for better efficiency. Finish the article here.

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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Seana Turner on March 25, 2019 at 8:36 am

    I always prefer to have music on when I am working, but of course I respect the client’s wishes. When I’m working by myself, music is on! I agree that I don’t really listen to it, but it occupies that part of my brain that wants to jump away and think about something other than the task at hand. That might sound weird, but it really works for me! Great suggestion:)

    • Janet Schiesl on March 25, 2019 at 1:32 pm

      I sometimes use music to focus, but it has to be very low. Really just a whisper. Once in awhile I have clients who like music while organizing. Then it’s great if the music is louder and upbeat. I guess because we are doing something more physical.

  2. Linda Samuels on March 25, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    This is such a personal preference. I can’t have music on when I’m writing or planning. But I don’t mind and even enjoy music when I’m cooking, cleaning, or entertaining. Although I have to admit that I rarely put music on myself. I grew up in a house of music. There was always music going. My mom taught piano and my siblings all played instruments. So between piano lessons, practicing, the phonograph, and student concerts, it was a music-heavy home. The music was beautiful, but I always found it challenging to concentrate on work. I’ve come to appreciate quiet. And while I do enjoy music (live and recorded,) I also really appreciate silence.

    When I’m working with clients, some really thrive on listening to music. So in those situations, as you can imagine, the client’s preferences and needs trump mine.

    • Janet Schiesl on March 26, 2019 at 7:04 am

      Linda, you bring up a good point. Some people need quiet to concentrate. I can “appreciate silence” as well.

  3. Janet Barclay on March 26, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    I love listening to music while I’m cooking! I sometimes like it when I’m working at my desk, but it really depends what I’m working on. If it’s something that requires concentration, it’s too distracting.

    • Janet Schiesl on March 26, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      Thanks Janet. Do you listen to more upbeat music when you are cooking than when you are working?

      • Janet Barclay on March 28, 2019 at 10:12 am

        Usually, though I only put music on while I’m working if I can tolerate some distraction.

  4. Nancy Haworth on March 28, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    This is a great tip! Music can certainly help some people focus better. Many of my clients like to play music while organizing. Personally, I love listening to music in my leisure time, but I find it distracting if I’m trying to focus on something like writing.

    • Janet Schiesl on March 29, 2019 at 7:21 am

      It’s so interesting how everyone is different.

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