Musical Motivation

“I love rock ‘n roll” – Joan Jett

I hear you, Joan.

Not everyone loves rock ‘n roll, but I do.  Actually, my musical tastes range from jazz to rock to classical and several genres in between.  It all depends on the mood.  If I’m driving down the highway, I’ll pull out a great rock tune and if I’m curled up with a good book I’ll throw on some light jazz or classical.  My tastes seem to have me covered.

When I’m trying to get stuff done, I need the same kind of motivational kickstart.  Rock will do it sometimes, classical another.  Sometimes silence is my muse’s best friend.  Music can play an integral part in how my day goes.

What about you?  Does music get you moving? What kind of music?  What artists?  Let us know in the comments.

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Mike Vardy an editor on Work Awesome. We could tell you where his personal productivity parody site, Eventualism and all of his other projects reside on the web, but you'd be best served going to and following the trail of virtual bread crumbs from there.


  1. Vishwas on the 15th June

    I am an Indian and I love bollywood music. Most of the time rock kicks-off my day in gym workout and as the day progresses it tends to soften a little and I settle for instrumentals and bollywood. But if I am not doing serious work I listen to radio (so I don’t need to wory about shuffle). Sometime when the code is not working, I tend to lisen to podcasts or TED. On a average day I listen to Pop or bollywood. That’s been my trend 🙂

    But when I am doing serious design work – Silence is the best music I can listen to!

  2. Luce on the 15th June

    When there’s a need for concentration, I put on some classicals, operas, jazz songs,…
    When I feel I’m too tensed, I have some relaxation melodies.

    And when I feel like I’m closing eyes there’s a lot of Hit successes ready to rule the house.

    Sometimes silence is also needed.
    So, I got it all covered for every mood 🙂

  3. Rondal on the 15th June

    I enjoy a mix of hard rock (Linkin Park, Metallica) and 90s Alternative (Third Eye Blind, The Wallflowers) throughout the workday. Although I like hip hop as well, its often hard sometimes to prevent getting stuck in an overly aggressive mood while tuning in at work.

  4. Tomek on the 15th June

    yea, when i’m coding I get a kick out of techno/trance. When I want to get in the zone, I fire up some special techno/trance stuff.

    The key is… there few to no words, just music… and the music has to have a high beat.

    Every time i hear it… i think of some hacker movie (i.e., Swoardfish) and how bad-ass he was trying to hack into computers. Just makes me love my job that much more because I can do stuff that not many people can.

  5. Miryam on the 15th June

    When I’m struggling to get started, I put on some Bossa (Bossa n’Marley, Seu Jorge or Sergio mendes – Encanto). Once I get going I usually switch to some country music (lots of inspirational stories on country songs!!), or latin music, lots of beat and drums, so it keeps me pumped!

    • Luís on the 16th June

      Seu Jorge rocks

  6. Janet on the 15th June

    As a copywriter living downtown in a very noisy city, I have to listen to music pretty much constantly to get any writing done. For general writing (freelance and creative) I listen to classical orchestral music and the odd bit of piano. For editing, any fast-paced music helps me work.

    I wear ear plugs, and headphones. The ear pugs cut out the street noise so all I hear is the music.

    This works well until someone comes in to your office and you freak out because you couldn’t hear them coming.

  7. katchja on the 15th June

    Well the message of the song is extremely important to me.
    I guess I build vivid mental images around the lyrics of the song and start my days by recreating my mood through music.
    If I’m in a trip I will want to “run, tear the walls that hold me inside”
    If I need to bring myself together and get things done I will even start singing to myself “You’ve gotta be strong, you’ve gotta be calm, you’ve gotta be wiser…”

  8. rafael armstrong on the 15th June

    For me, the music that gets a good rhythm going (pardon the pun) is usually a combo of ska (mostly 2Tone and Spanish bands) and blues (folks like Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King, koko Taylor). Occasionally metal helps to kick things off (BTW– AC/DC’s catalog is, IMO, PERFECT driving music), and “classic” salsa (think El Gran Combo and Héctor Lavoe) keeps things going.

    Now, if I happen to be working late into the night, ambient usually helps me focus.

  9. Jens P. Berget on the 15th June

    I enjoy rock as well, but I also enjoy all sorts of music. Hence, I’m using Spotify on my computer while I’m writing.

    What I’m listening to all depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes I like it rough, sometimes not. It varies.

    But, one of my all time favorite bands are Queen. They always deliver when I’m writing.

  10. Michael on the 16th June

    Try coding with this in the background:

    Underworld – Dark & Long (Dark Train)

    Watch productivity sore!

  11. ReveK on the 16th June

    “Rock, rock ’till you drop, Rock, rock never stop”, Def Leppard…

    Nice post! Indeed music goes with your mood and / or the task you have to perform. (And definitely Rock (that large family), fits well pretty all the time).

    These days if feel “punk”, so some great tunes are playing in my ears (SilverChair, Clash, Nina Hagen, and of course “Les Bérus” (Béruriers noirs).

    But when I really need concentration, as when I’m writing a quality procedure or do graphic design, Techno works fine. Goa works really fine. The electronic loops, “weird” sounds and fast beats just kind of free my mind to increase my concentration.

    When I’m waiting in an airport, or walking these huge corridors, techno is great, too. Fast trance music makes me feel a sort of astronaut floating around.
    And when I need to be alone, quiet, some minimalist music do the job.Philip Glass, John Adams, or that french pianist Erik Satie…

  12. Leo on the 16th June

    When i am developing i get something loud, Metal Hard Rock, Screamo…they say i am crazy but it works for me..

  13. Coe Douglas on the 18th June


    Really fantastic post. I love to write to John Coltrane. Something about his music just puts me in that creative space. If not Trane, I like Elliott Smith or indie rocker Dan Wallace for motivation.

    Also, I used to keep a Collings acoustic guitar in my office and when I got stuck or needed creative inspiration I’d play. A guitar is a great way to cultivate creative energy.

    • Mike Vardy on the 18th June

      Thanks, Coe.

      I’m listening to a wide array of music right now as I work: Third Eye Blind, Jonathan Coulton, some ambient creative music (called Ghostly Essentials) and – yep – even music from Glee.

      I’m a “geek” and a “Gleek” – and have no problem admitting that!

  14. Belinda on the 26th July

    Like most folks here, I listen to different music for different results. Most recently I had to write some copy about a company that pegged itself as being “a little off centre” …. so I popped on Flights of the Concords and it put me in just the right frame of mind!

    My Monday morning “wake and get workin” album at the moment is Florence and The Machine. You can’t beat a some good drums to get the momentum of the week rollin!

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