As I walked down the hall, cruising through pods, the only acknowledgment of my existence were simple hand gestures. A few people people gave me a wave, others threw up an air fist pump, and a few ignored me. What was interesting was each and every person I passed was doing the exact same thing. They were all wearing headphones and listening to music.
If your office is anything like mine, you are used to this environment. Now there’s a time and place for listening to music at work, and it’s when you are doing what author Cal Newport calls, “Deep Work.” Deep work is the ability to focus, without distraction, on a cognitively demanding task.
Lately, for me, writing my book, F.M.L. Standing Out and Being a Leader has required a substantial amount of “deep work.” So naturally, I used music as a way to help me stay in the zone and be more focused for longer periods of time. A recent Cornell study found, “happy, upbeat music can lead employees to be more productive, cooperative, and work harder for the good of the company or team.”
Here is a list of the best songs to listen to while doing “deep work”:
Divenire by Ludovico Einaudi – You can listen to the greatest work song of all time here. I like it so much I leave it on repeat. At one point, I am sure I listened to it 20 times in a row. Songs without words keep you in the mode of deep work better than those with words.
#41 by Dave Matthews – Contrary to what I just said, this is one of the few songs on the list that has words. This particular Dave Matthews song has long instrumentals, but maintains a calm and peaceful rhythm.
Ibiza Classics – Ibiza is a island in the Mediterranean off of the coast of Spain that has become famous for house music. This Ibiza Classics Mix on youtube will keep you upbeat, focused and happy about the work you are doing. When I am listening to it, an hour passes by in what feels like 10 minutes. That’s when you know you have the right song going.
Fur Elise by Beethoven – It would be a crime not to have Beethoven on this list because he is arguably the most influential figure in classical music. Most consider him the greatest composer of all time. Fur Elise is just a start with Beethoven.
Find My Way Back by Cody Fry – I am going a little off the reservation with this recommendation but Cody’s music is overflowing with positivity. When I first got up the courage to begin writing a few years ago, I am 100% sure it wouldn’t have happened without this guy’s music. He is far from a big name, but his music will lift you up and keep positive thoughts flowing.
This list just touches the surface of all the great songs and music that will help keep you in the mode of “deep work.” What are some new ones to put on my radar?
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John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft start your organizational free trial here. He is also the host of the Follow My Lead Podcast and is passionate about the development of modern professionals. You can also find him on instagram @johngeades.