I will woefully admit my focus is shocking when it comes to “getting in the zone” and out of procrastination mode. For me, writing productively at home or in a café is very closely linked to the sounds in the room around me.
If a baby cries, I’m out. If my coffee shop neighbours are gossiping, one ear can’t help but eavesdrop. And if that excruciatingly catchy advert comes on one more time… help me!
As a freelance writer and digital nomad, I am constantly under pressure to keep my craft sharp and my organisational skills tight. In my darkest moments of distraction I have turned to googling online ‘focus’ playlists in desperation. The result? I have sifted through HEAPS of shitty playlists to find quality music that actually works wonders for your concentration.
ADVICE FOR CREATIVE FREELANCERS
I’ve found ambient background noise far more powerful at encouraging concentration than complete silence.
I know everyone is different (I envy those who can flip open their laptop, start typing feverishly, and publish an hour later), but there’s some science to the reliance on subtle, distracting sounds…
There are clever people out there researching music therapy and its physiological and psychological impact on the brain and body. They’ve already found that music not only helps to achieve a state of mindfulness, but can additionally create a positive working environment that diminishes stress and anxiety. Ambient music at the right volume also encourages the mind to wander, creating fertile space for more creative, original ideas.
ARE YOU FOCUS-FIT?
The right kind of music (the ideal volume, tone, lyrics and rhythm) can successfully lower blood pressure, reduce heart rates, increase relaxation, balance breathing and calm muscle awareness, according to results from Humm.ly, an American music wellness app.
Is “music wellness” a thing? Of course it is. Probably since the dawn of time, when the first cave-person was seriously stressed after a local woolly mammoth impaled one of their cousins AGAIN so they would take a wander in the forest and listen to the birds twooping and whistling in the branches, the chorus of the monolithic trees, nature singing a calming melody surrounding the anxious cave-person, reminding them “every little thing is gonna be alright”.
(if anyone studied music history, please call my bluff here…)
TOP CHOICE FOCUS PLAYLISTS
I know how frustrating it is to search and search for smooth, ambient lo-fi music with zero interruptions. So I want to share my finest musical discoveries with you, to help get the good words out of that mind and onto the screen. For concentration, focus and clarity explore the below options to find the right fit for you – all available at the flick of a button:
When searching for decent focus music, I found one major downside was the dirty, high-pitched, interjecting adverts. If you don’t want to pay for a subscription to music apps like Spotify, ads are largely unavoidable and can really stunt workflow. My solution is to listen to ‘Live’ lo-fi music on Youtube:
ChilledCow channel (Youtube)
Their headline video ‘lofi hip hop radio - beats to relax/study to’ is popular and reliable to whack on in the background for hours (as in, I’ve spotted my local cafes and students playing it through their devices).
Lophee channel (Youtube)
The partner channel of ChilledCow offers charming, story-led atmospheric 10-minute mixes that I can always source lyrical inspiration from.
CREATIVE BRAIN TRAINERS:
During my two year hunt for great focus music, I committed to countless playlists falsely promising ultimate concentration and productivity, only to be interrupted 7 minutes in by Ibiza club-anthem electric shit. These are mixes clearly churned out by view-gobbling digi-dunces – or people who don't write for a living. I much prefer when fellow creative brains have hand-built playlists to aid their own art, and are happily sharing them for others to enjoy. Like these guys:
This musical artist from Portland offers atmospheric mixes ranging in length from a few minutes to nearly an hour, all with a dreamy, creative feel.
Serotonin release (Youtube)
Serotonin inducing music, apparently (a neurotransmitter linked to happiness).
Morning Coffee (Youtube)
Chillhop / Lo-Fi / Electronic Mix
Chillwave / Lofi / Electronic Mix
Inner Peace (Youtube)
Chillhop / Beats / Electronic Mix
Travel | Beautiful Ambient Mix or Runaway | Beautiful Ambient Mix (Youtube)
Both beautiful mixes produced by BLUME, with many more to choose from based on single word themes such as travel, or seasons.
Another smart way to skip the adverts and hone in on your homework is through adjustable ambient music. I first discovered this was possible when using Rainycafe.com, but soon got cocky and found the far more diverse Coffitivity.com! This website is the masterpiece of fellow entrepreneurs, freelancers and creatives who are trying to replicate that super-chill coffee shop vibe at home.
IT’S ONLY NATURAL:
I love the sound of rain on the windows when I am dry, comfy, indoors and writing with a hot cuppa. Rain boosts my productivity like nothing else (unless I'm working outside). One problem – I can’t control the weather yet, so I have to settle for this long playlist of Rain Sounds by Spotify, featuring blockbuster hits like cozy rain, thunderstorms and campfire rain.
I first listened to Max Richter after an artist’s blog recommended his relaxing ‘Sleep’ series. This is the same guy who supplied the soundtrack for the Tom Hardy TV series Taboo. Turns out his entire melancholic library makes a brilliant backdrop to your focused creative endeavours. Start exploring with Sleep and beyond (Spotify).
JUST THE START!
I know there's probably so many more artists and playlists to bookmark...
If you have better focus music to share than this, comment and share it! With an international attention span disaster in full swing, we need to value our concentration more than ever before. And if a talented master of digital music can produce that on the other side of the world and share it with us, those fumbling with a blank canvas daily, then we must support their work as they support ours!
Together, we can all rise above procrastination and short attention spans to get the real work don– SQUIRREL!!!!!!