Over the years I’ve developed a few strategies to help get me in to the right frame of mind to work. One of the best ones is my time for work playlist, I put it on when I need to focus and it never fails to get me into the right state to focus on a project. I’ve worked out that the best albums for me to work to are film soundtracks. The nature of films means that they often build to a finale towards the end of the film, and the soundtracks have a big part to play in that. I find that as the urgency in the music builds my focus deepens and by the end of the soundtrack I’m immersed in my work.
Occasionally I’ll come across a new album that has a similar effect to the play list and I add it on the end. This week when I came across a new album I realised that it might be time to review the albums that I have in there. When I opened it up I had amassed over 6 hours worth of music. I realised it was time to review what albums I had saved, along with the fact that I rarely even got to the soundtracks at towards the end of the playlist.
Most of the time when I used this playlist it was to settle down to a block of work, generally in the afternoons when I have fewer meetings at work. That means a block of work a can last between 1 and 3 hours, so I really had no need for the amount of music that was in there. On a Wednesday afternoon work has implemented a no meetings policy, it means we have a consistent free block of time we can set aside for deep work, and my playlist gets used a lot on those afternoons.
When I assessed the albums that I had in there, I decided it was time to limit the length to about 3.5 hours of music. I picked my top 2 soundtracks and added in the new one to hit the magic length of time. I structured the playlist with the longest first moving to the shortest last. We travel through Dune, Tron Legacy, and The Dark Knight, which nicely breaks my work period into three chunks should I need to pause for a few minutes and move my legs. I’ve been using it this week and it’s working very well. If you’re interested here’s the Apple Music version for you.