Establishing The Perfect Study Playlist

It’s been a long day, and now all you have to look forward to is that 10-page paper you’ve barely started. When coffee is not enough, what do you turn to for motivation?  MUSIC!  Although research points out that a lot of the music we listen to while studying actually hinders our performance, there are ways to use your favorite tunes to promote your studying!

It may not sound important, but when it’s time to get some major studying in and you need some light background noise, having the right playlist can be a huge determinant in how productive you are!

Research has shown that although it can be harmful to listen to music while studying, it can be beneficial to listen to soft classical tunes.  But if you’re like me and Beethoven is not exactly your cup of tea, there are some “hip” alternatives that will keep you in a productive study mode!

What I expected to be a fairly simple project, turned into a huge floor-wide debate when I asked some of the guys down the hall what kind of music they resort to when studying.  This turned into an all-out war, but as it turns out, what kind of music we listen to varies by what we are studying and how motivated we already are.

But first, here is a list of simple criteria to use when getting started on your study playlist:

  1. If you can sing along with it, your mind will be in 2 different places, so turn it off!
  2. If you find yourself using your pencil as a drumstick to outplay the percussionist, hit next!
  3. Make sure your volume is ultra-low.

Next, decide what kind of mood you’re in and how much studying motivation you are in need of.

If you are in dire need of motivation to start that 10-page paper…

  • Begin with something that breaks the study music rules, but know when to resort to the next playlist
  • …Dubstep, Kid Cudi, Basshunter, MGMT, and anything else techno.

If you are at that perfect study point, but just need some light background tunes to keep you going…

  • Aim for something light and calming
  • …Coldplay, Bon Iver, John Mayer, Enya, Ryan Star, Snow Patrol, and Imogen Heap

If you’re in for some serious studying…

  • Find something that will match the intelligence of your study subject
  • …Beethoven, Mozart, Ratatat, and anything else classical you can get your hands on!

If you need a high-energy study break…

  • Go for something that will get your blood pumping!  Belt it, dance to it, or whatever else it takes to get your blood pumping! (My roommate and I have made this a finals week tradition!)  But don’t forget to turn it off and get back to studying!
  • …Spice Girls (yes, really), Adele, Cascada, Skrillex, and even rap is allowed in this category.

However, if you’re a guy, apparently you’re almost guaranteed to be most productive listening to all things rock and roll…

  • Here are their suggestions for those late nights:
  • …Foo Fighters, Radical Face, Music from the Soundtracks of Limitless and The Social Network.  (Disclaimer: this is not for everyone!)

Don’t know where to start?

Use Pandora! (www.pandora.com)  Create channels based on your previous preferences and you don’t even have to worry about hitting next, Pandora takes care of it for you!

The most important thing is that whatever you prefer listening to, you are most productive with.  Don’t allow it to distract you, or inhibit you from doing the best studying possible!

Study on!

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Kaitlyn Taylor

Kaitlyn Taylor

Kaitlyn Taylor is a freshman at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in Spanish. She comes from a small farm town of 1,000 in West-Central Illinois, making the transition to a large campus challenging. At school Kaitlyn is involved with the University’s Women Glee Choir, and also sings in her Church choir and is involved with her residence hall’s Resident Board. She enjoys writing, biking, and volunteering.
Kaitlyn Taylor

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