I have worked with a lot of programmers who listens to music while they’re working. They put on headphones or a pair of headsets and hum as they work. It’s contagious too. 2 companies back, I was in a team of 3 developers and 1 of us without fail, he listens to music while coding. 

Sometimes I can even hear what he’s listening to. We have to chat him online just so we could get his attention because it felt wrong (for some reason) to interrupt him listening to his songs. Before we know it, the three of us are listening to songs while coding. Sometimes, we take off our headphones and one of us will play the music from his computer and take turns on the songs.

Woman with a headphone

Flow and Momentum

Back in the days when I was a senior developer, I had a boss who seemed to not know much about…well, about anything actually. He wasn’t fit to manage and the only reason why he’s managing is that he’s the owner. DTDT is what we nicknamed him which stands for “Do this, do that”. There were times that I had to explain to him that some of what he wants to add is not applicable because it’s from a different language or different platform.

I had to argue and fight almost every time he tasked us. Not because we can’t or don’t want to do it but mostly because it’s absurd. To him, his answer to everything is to not just multi-task but work “parallel” on all projects. Programmers have this flow and momentum. 

When I work, I observed that I finish a project fast once I get into the flow and creating the momentum of working on it which won’t happen if I jump from another project to another project. Not only it will take a longer time to finish the projects but the quality of the deliverable would suffer as well due to overlooking.

Man Working in Front of Computer monitor

The Right Kind Of Music Helps You Focus More

  • It blocks out noises like colleagues conversing loudly that you have no heart to tell them to stop because you’re not rude
  • Music helps us get through the repetitive works we do. Code, test, error, debug and repeat. It’s boring but yet must be done.
  • How about when you’re stressed because your boss is being an unreasonable ass or your co-developer, find a soothing music to calm you down. I usually listen to violin instrumentals when I’m stressed

Hmm..Concentration Killer?

Yes, it does kill concentration. To almost everything, there is a B-side. If you’re playing Heavy Metal or a Hip Hop tune that’s heavy on a bass, its either you won’t be able to concentrate or your brain would just lean more on the song.

From my experience, music without vocals or instrumentals work best for working.

While some individuals may be distracted by music with vocals, others may be distracted by a music they strongly like or dislike. I for one love RNB songs but wouldn’t want to listen to it while working because I’ll be singing along more than just listening.

That’s what works for me. Everyone is different, it’s very unlikely but you may focus more when listening to Heavy Metal songs or booming bass of Hip Hop.


Crown Attending a Concert

Do not play music on a radio network or listen to podcasts. You have no control over what song will play and even if you don’t want to, your brain will listen to the adverts and eventually focusing on it sidetracking you from your work.

Control your playlist with Amazon’s Music Unlimited. You get a 30-day free trial and you can change or cancel anytime you want.

Why Does It Help?

Research suggests that music (listening to it) improves one’s mood. Depending on the music being listened to, it induces happiness and creativity.

If you are a programmer, avoid listening to music with lyrics if you really want to solve that method that’s been bugging you and your project for about some time now. Why? While the background helps, the lyrics may find its way onto your head and get you out of focus.

If your job is working on repetitive and routine tasks, the lyrics can help. It livens up the work. So sing along on that song you’ve been playing and take the headset off and share the joy with your co-workers.

ScienceDirect has an article how music aids productivity.


What kind of music do you listen to when working? Share it with us in the comments below.

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