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Finance & Accounting, Productivity, Taxes

Best Sounds to Have in the Background While Doing Taxes

Best Sounds to Have in the Background While Doing Taxes

Sounds are powerful – music can lift up or bring down your mood; a strong downbeat can energize you, but the soft whir of a fan can put you down for a nap in minutes. Sounds may also fuel creativity, boost productivity and sharpen concentration. So, when it’s time to hunker down and get to work on your taxes, what are the best sounds to have playing in the background? Here’s a roundup of sound and music options that just might boost your focus and help you power through the task.

Try a Classical Approach

Many believe in the “Mozart effect,” the idea that listening to Mozart may improve performance of certain kinds of mental tasks. While this idea has largely been discredited, at least to the extent that Mozart’s music makes you smarter, many people enjoy classical music while working or studying. If you’d like to test the theory, explore options on a public domain search site such as Musopen, which offers a wide variety of classical composers and their works. Try these classical favorites:

Ambient Music

Try listening to music without lyrics, such as straight instrumentals or ambient music, since processing the words activates your brain’s language center and can be distracting. The exception: lyrics you can’t understand. Here are a few suggestions:

  • For a steady stream of cool as you compile all those receipts, check out SomaFM’s Groove Salad, which describes its selections as “a nicely chilled plate of ambient/downtempo beats and grooves.”
  • The neuroscience-based music service focus@will claims to help you “focus, reduce distractions and retain information when working, studying, writing and reading.” The specialized instrumental music is designed to extend your attention span, help you tune out distracting stimuli and get you into the concentration flow quicker.The creators say their music works in the background by subtly soothing the brain’s limbic system, which is the part of the brain that guards against danger, starvation and other dramatic, attention-stealing situations. They manipulate musical characteristics such as key, intensity, speed, emotional values and recording styles, which you can customize to match your cognitive type and your mood.
  • Try instrumental film scores or movie soundtracks, such as scores created by Hans Zimmer.
  • If you’re into video game soundtracks, check out Skyrim’s full original score.

Ambient Background Noise

If you find any kind of music distracting while you work, how about creating an instant coffee shop vibe wherever you happen to be? To get you in the productivity zone, Coffitivity generates the atmosphere of a coffee house’s morning bustle or a campus café’s lunchtime rush.

Coffitivity says that the background noise tracks they’ve created help people work better, and it backs up this claim with research. The company cites a peer-reviewed study from University of Chicago as proof their approach works, which showed that a moderate level of ambient noise, about 70 decibels, distracts people just enough to heighten creativity. Here’s a chart that explains just what 70 decibels sounds like in relation to a barely audible sound to full-blown, eardrum rupture.

The creators of Coffitivity explain, “If we’re not focused too much at a task at hand, we come up with awesome stuff. In the coffee shop, the chatter and clatter actually distracts us a tiny bit and allows our creative juices to start flowing. It sounds crazy, but it works!”

Here are more ambient background noise options to try:

  • com allows you to mix background sounds for just the right noise level and says it helps block out annoying sounds, increases productivity and reduces stress.
  • Soundrown offers a variety of pleasant ambient sounds to choose from.
  • com says rain makes everything better, at least the sound of rain. Try it and see if the drizzly ambience helps you finish those taxes in time.


Listen to What You Like

Music’s effect on the brain is complex and more studies need to be done to prove whether it actually enhances productivity. A Canadian study suggested that music may help you get more done simply because it makes you feel better and improves your mood. So, no matter what direction you choose, go with sounds that you enjoy.

What’s your pick for the best sounds to have playing in the background as you work on your taxes? Share your favorites and why you like them in the comments

Kabbage Team

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