The Art of the Perfect Work Playlist

Yesterday, I asked my lovely community on instagram if they listened to music while they worked. More than half said yes, with a few preferring complete silence as they finished up their tasks. This lead to some interesting chats in my DMs, all leading to one question: What, in my opinion, makes the perfect work playlist?

Well, dear reader, the perfect playlist is an adventure. Think of it like a rollercoaster: You start off smooth, you have highs, you have lows, and everything in between. That’s how you want to build your perfect playlist. Songs meant to focus you, songs meant to energize you, and songs meant to be a quick little break. Think about the role each song on your list is meant to play and use that information to connect the dots and build your own perfect little adventure.

Buildup Tracks

Think of these songs as the the part of the rollercoaster when you’re first in line, getting in, and just start moving. They’re the tracks that get you into the mood for what’s about to come next. Personally, I only use these tracks at the start of my playlist, for those first few minutes of email checks and slow coffee sips. They’re usually the “exploration” songs, the new hits or the time I want to experiment with genres and artists.

Focus Tracks

The focus tracks are the bulk of the playlist. For me, this means songs that contain no lyrics or are in other languages. This is the time I’m meant to be at the height of my productivity and totally focused on the work I’m doing rather than humming along to the lyrics. I tend to mine for these on Spotify or YouTube Music’s “Focus” mood option and tend to gravitate towards something with a beat rather than your simple classical music.

Energizing Tracks

When you get used to building these playlists, you start knowing the points in which you’re going to need a little energy boost. Here, you’re going to place your hype tracks. The songs you love so much and get you so excited, the ones that no matter what will always wake you up and get you back on track. Don’t make this too long, as you’re still in your working state!

Break Tracks

After a while, you’re gonna need to take a few minutes as a quick breather. Here, you’re going to place whatever you think of as your “comfort music”, songs you never get bored of and find joy and comfort in (personally, this is almost always Taylor Swift or Broadway soundtracks). This part rarely changes for me month to month, unlike most other sections of my work playlists.

Then, it’s all just a matter of figuring out order and category placements. It’s all as simple as that! It might take a few tries to get your own perfect flow going… but once you have the key that works for you, you’ll never go back to working in silence!

Think you have a better method? Or playlists you default to? Do share! I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Creating a playlist is a real art. I like your metaphor of a roller coaster. Each song definitely plays its part in making the ride an exciting one. The whole concept takes me back to making mix tapes when I was a kid, searching for that next perfect song!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! At the core of it, these playlists are a less permanent more evolving version of a mixtape. I loved making mixtapes way back when, burning CDs for my car ride to school. I think this is why I tend to label my playlists per month now, so I can have a little keepsake of a certain time in my life the same way those mixtapes can give us a window to the past now.


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