Music to Study and Work By

For some, the quiet can be deafening. In such circumstances, it is preferable to have music or some form of background noise to study, work, or write by. Having ambient noise helps keep my ADHD brain better engaged, promoting productivity, focus, and concentration. It is important, however, to choose sounds that are not too distracting, so as not to yield the antithetical effect.


Classical music is an option for some; for the untrained ear, classical music can be great music to study by. Unfortunately, I studied classical music in college, and therefore, cannot listen to classical music without getting distracted; I invariably end up listening to discern what time period the music is from and whom the composer is.

While it goes without saying that one should choose music without lyrics, another option is to choose music in a foreign language. Bossa nova is a great option for those seeking something concurrently soothing, sultry, and energizing. Spotify offers a decent Bossa Nova playlist.

Unfortunately, I know a little Portuguese and find myself trying to translate the songs, so this not an option for me, unless I’m cleaning, organizing, or doing some chore that doesn’t require tremendous mental aptitude.

At the present time, instrumental hip-hop is my personal favorite; it is relaxing but upbeat, and when there are lyrics, they are sparse enough and repetitive enough to not be too distracting. I recommend the Jazz Vibes and Lush Vibes playlists on Spotify, as well as the playlists created by Chillhop.

For those who don’t care for Spotify, Chillhop also offers a live stream channel on YouTube for your listening pleasure.

Ambient “White” Noise

Some enjoy listening to white noise, and there are free options out there for those who are so inclined. I find it rather perturbing, and prefer other, more natural options.

Other ambient sounds that aren’t quite as boring as white noise, include the sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore. It’s not wholly unlike white noise, but with the added bonus of imagining yourself on a beach somewhere. Santa Cruz. Maui. Anywhere but the Northeast. Spotify has an Ocean Escapes station which hits the spot, as it were.

If you enjoy the ambient sounds of working in a cafe without the visual distractions or financial obligations of spending money on coffee, another option is Coffitivity; it is a free, bring your own coffee stream which provides ambient cafe noise to study, work, or write by.


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