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Not Productive Enough at the Office?

We all have those moments at work when we just need to go into a mode to get things done. To insulate ourselves from the office distractions, we turn to our music. Whether it is your personal device or a streaming service like Spotify, we always go to our preferred “get-shit-done” playlist. But those playlists typically short, requiring us to find another playlist or turn to our preferred Apple Radio or Pandora station. Those few minutes of finding the right follow-up playlist or radio station take away our precious time in getting important projects done. If this potential time-wasting task finds its way on your To-Do list, you are not alone.

For a hard rock and metal fan, the pounding of a heavy or driving beat always gives me a rush of energy to crush whatever assignment I am working on. Whether it is an hour-long editing assignment or a day-long research and writing assignment, I always prioritize a great playlist that does not require me to change to a playlist that may not be as good as the one that just end. Here are five tips to check out to build a long and rocking playlist that will not end when you are in the zone.

Do not limit yourself to just one band.

From a playlist-making standpoint, it can be easy to default to your favorite band. Although some bands have such extensive catalogs, like Rush, Pink Floyd, Spock’s Beard, or Iron Maiden, listening to the same band and going through some of your least favorite songs can get a little taxing. The single-band-with-an-extensive-catalog approach may work from a time standpoint, but it will likely negate the engagement and productivity elements. Have you just played your favorite band’s discography on shuffle and skipped a slow, uninteresting song when it came on? We have all done that.

The best way to solve the single-band-but-lack-of-engagement problem is to expand your scope of bands you want to include. If you have an eclectic taste, able to go from Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother to Slayer’s Reign in Blood, incorporate that range by choosing those bands that have a good collection of “can’t miss” songs. You’d be surprised how many times you want to shift gears musically during a long work project. Choosing from a wide array of bands can provide a much-needed variety, which works as a perfect transition to Tip #2.

Mix it up on the song lengths.

Yes, some people only listen to Top 40 Hits, which would result in a playlist comprising entirely three-and-a-half-minute autotuned, noncreative dance beats. But shorter songs inevitably means longer playlists with more-or-less the same music. Because variety is the spice of a life, an open-mindedness may help. Some of the best playlists have a diverse collection of genres with short, punchy radio songs and longer, more engaging songs.

Most people’s attention spans tend to cut off at around six minutes, with notable exceptions. My attention span tends to cut off after eight minutes of only ambient synthesize or keyboard play. Thus, longer songs must have variety themselves. Take a fourteen-minute epic like Dream Theater’s “The Glass Prison” for example. Although fourteen minutes may feel like an eternity from a sit-and-listen standpoint, “The Glass Prison” does not feel that way. Because the song is split into three sections, the transitions make the song feel like three shorter songs. With an artfully crafted productivity playlist, a fourteen-minute powerhouse song followed by a punchier four-minute can indirectly spur creativity and motivation without having to think twice.

Choose songs with a more upbeat vibe.

Related to variety of song lengths, and even variety within a song, great hard rock and metal productivity playlists keep up the pace. Think about how you craft workout playlists for going for a run or to the gym. Each song is selected for a specific reason of keeping you hype. A similar rationale underscores crafting the best “get-shit-done” playlist. Thus, the most upbeat songs should rise to the top of your list. Even adhering to the varied song-length tip, longer songs should have a pulse-pounding vibe for at least half of the song. “The Architect” from Haken’s Affinity album is a great example of a song that goes through soft and heavy sections, but still keeps an upbeat energy.

This more-than-half upbeat vibe may work well for longer songs, but it applies slightly better to shorter songs (less than five minutes). “Little Black Submarines” by The Black Keys or “Through Glass” by Stone Sour captures this notion perfectly. Each song start softly but builds to a more energetic level, marking the perfect shift when necessary. It also satiates a listener’s desire to have softer, mellower music on a work playlist.

Choose songs that you know you like.

A good “get-shit-done” playlist should have a familiarity to it. It should have songs you know you like. A good playlist must have songs that you know you’ll listen to regardless of your mood. Those songs should also be vetted to make sure that you are not tempted to skip. Skipping only detracts from the work at hand and makes the listening time shorter because you chose a song that just does not work. Although this sounds a like a science, it is really an art form. And like art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Thus, the playlist should feature songs that fit your personal style.

Avoid songs that will tempt a sing-along.

Finally, a good productivity playlist has songs that do not prompt a sing-along. Take a moment right now to think about which songs you know will mouth or outright belt while you are working. Did you come up with a few? Good, immediately go over them when you are crafting your “get-shit-done” playlist. But this tip does not include songs that you know you can rock out to. Sometimes, the perfect song will come on right when you complete the task. Treat those songs as celebration songs, commending you on a good well done.

These rock-out songs should be peppered throughout your playlist if you know you want to listen to the playlist in a predetermined order. They should always work at any time of the day. A taxing project first thing in the morning may warrant having a good, hyped afternoon song. Maybe you are blasting this playlist at ten o’clock at night as you drudge through the final pieces of the assignment. A perfectly timed hype song can make all that stressful but necessary work worth while. Needless to say, that moment should have a great hype song that you like, but not one you know you will belt as soon as I comes on.

Bonus Tip: Craft a great playlist that works on shuffle.

This bonus tip serves those people who want to listen to their “get-shit-done” playlist but want to spice things up with the order at which the songs play. This fact is especially true for anyone working a nine-to-five office desk job. Maybe you may not want to listen to “Holy Diver” first thing. This tip accommodates that tendency to prefer variation rather than routineness. Hopefully, this list helped spice up with “get-shit-done” playlist, or even encouraged you to make one. If you are a rock/hard rock/metal fan and want a place to start, here is just one playlist to look at.

  1. “The Glass Prison” by Dream Theater
  2. “Coming Home” by Sons of Apollo
  3. “Betrayer ” by Trivium
  4. “4 Words (To Choke Upon)” by Bullet for My Valentine
  5. “The Writing on the Wall” by Alter Bridge
  6. “Shuttered World” by Fates Warning
  7. “Almost Easy” by Avenged Sevenfold
  8. “Avalanche” by Bring Me The Horizon
  9. “20/20” by Crown the Empire
  10. “Endless Sacrifice” by Dream Theater
  11. “Fortress” by Alter Bridge”
  12. “Veil” by Haken
  13. “And Yet It Moves” by Fates Warning
  14. “Acid Rain” by Liquid Tension Experiment
  15. “In My Veins” by Mutiny Within
  16. “Red Pills” by Crown the Empire
  17. “Prosthetic” by Haken
  18. “Vicarious” by Tool
  19. “Poison in Your Veins” by Alter Bridge
  20. “The Passage of Time” by Liquid Tension Experiment
  21. “Destination: Nowhere” by Metal Allegiance
  22. “Iconoclast” by Symphony X
  23. “The Guilty Party” by While She Sleeps
  24. “Circles” by Mutiny Within
  25. “Instincts” by Of Mice & Men

This is just half of a longer playlist.

If you are interested in optimizing your productivity at home, see this great and helpful post by Simply Alex Jean

Check out some of my other posts.

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