My Music Playlist at Work — What’s on Yours?

My boyfriend swears by techno when he’s racing to meet a deadline. I crank the show tunes when I need to lose myself in my work. Clearly, everyone has different preferences for listening to music at work.

Fortunately for me, I work from home, so I don’t have to worry about disturbing cubicle mates by singing along to the cast of Glee. Depending on your work environment, you might have to take turns choosing music with several coworkers or discretely plug in headphones when you need a music break.

Here’s a glimpse at my workday playlist:

  1. Devil May Care, Diana Krall – The perfect, carefree song for unwinding after a particularly tough client call or impossible deadline.
  2. Dancing Queen, ABBA – I know it’s cheesy, but when I need a morning or mid-afternoon pick-me-up, these one always does the trick!
  3. Don’t Stop Believin’, cast of Fox’s Glee – Another cheesefest like above, but I love the inspirational energy behind it.
  4. For Now, cast of Avenue Q – A pleasant interlude of comic relief for when I’m checking email or updating spreadsheets.
  5. Fireflies, Owl City – I love the cheerful vibe of this song and find that it’s great for when I need to get into The Zone.
  6. Champion, Queen Latifah – When I need to psych myself up for an important phone call, the kick-butt attitude of this song gives me the confidence boost I need.
  7. Love Song, Sara Bareilles – I know some of you are rolling your eyes at this one, and that’s fine. Sara Bareilles is one of my favorite workday companions, even if it’s via iTunes instead of in person.
  8. The Flesh Failures, cast of Hair – The Actor’s Fund of America Benefit Recording – Singing along to this one always put me in a good mood and helps me refocus for the next task. After all, rocking out at the top of my lungs in the middle of the workday is one of the perks of working from hoe.
  9. There Goes the Fear, Doves – Remember this one from (500) Days of Summer? Awesome soundtrack, and I love the mellow, yet upbeat rhythms of this song in particular.

Do you listen to music at work? What styles or artists work best for you? Does this cause any issues with the people around you or have you found a clever solution to this problem? If you’ve created a workday playlist on Grooveshark, Pandora,, or Spotify, then please share it below!

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Susan Johnston is a freelance writer/blogger who has contributed to publications including The Boston Globe,’s blog,, and Yahoo! HotJobs. Her own blog,, covers tips on productivity, brainstorming, and more for fellow writers.


  1. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 3rd November

    Good selections, Susan. I dig Danicng Queen too! I also like Seals, “A kiss on the Rose” and Tears for Fears, “SHOUT!”

  2. Laneth Sffarlenn on the 3rd November

    I’m one of those people who hasn’t been able to (in the past) do practically anything with music playing in the background because I’m so easily distracted, but as I write this I’ve got a podcast playing in the background!

    Something I use to keep my inspiration going or lifting my spirits when work is being crappy, is the Halo (video game) soundtrack from the first three games and Halo Reach.

    Aside from that, it depends on my mood and whether anyone else is around – if I’m by myself, I find I can lose myself in my work and get a lot done by listening to heavy metal and getting all “pumped up”, so a little techno is in there too.

  3. bramdevries on the 3rd November

    Everything ranging from Punk to rock

  4. Aaran Casey on the 3rd November

    I’m a web / UI / UX designer, and I am the only one in my office, my bosses listen to alot of old-ish sort of music, which can at times be very distracting, and doesn’t help me get in the mood of creativity. Generally my, playlist consists of Armin Van Buren, Paul Van Dyk, Hed Pe, Killswitch Engage, The Streets, The Specials, Rise Against, The Offspring, Tiesto, Mt Eden Dubstep, and Rammstein…

    At the moment I am listening to Gatecrasher 2010 cd1

  5. Enrique Ramírez on the 3rd November

    I listen to a bunch of different styles all day long; from classical music to death metal.

    Lately, though, I’ve found myself very fond of Jazz music for a nice work day; with a few rock tunes in between. Those two are like lovers and get along very well.

  6. Griffin D. Hamell on the 3rd November

    Dead quiet makes it incredibly unnerving for me to work, so there always has to be some sort of noise around me to drive me. I work in a relatively un-trafficked part of a museum, so there is generally no one around besides two people that also work out of my office.

    I generally put on jazz; specifically, Coltrane, Davis, Monk, and Mingus. It sets the mood when delving through Pre-18th century documents. Thankfully my colleagues have eclectic tastes as well.

  7. Víctor on the 3rd November

    Nice post! I usually listen rock or dance music to keep me active and motivated.

    I’m a Motion graphic artist and need mind awake! I leave two Spotify playlist below.



    Hope you enjoy the lists! 🙂

  8. Sean Hodge on the 3rd November

    I like to listen to non-vocals music, which has some energy and sounds interesting. I often listen to Mogwai radio on Pandora while working. I pull out the headphones if my wife complains 🙂 I sometimes jump on Grooveshark and pull out some old 90s rock, but not if I have to write or really concentrate.

  9. Ryan Cash on the 3rd November

    Lately I’ve been putting on Creep (Radiohead Cover) by Scala Choir when I’m feeling unproductive.

    It’s the song from The Social Network movie trailer, which inspires me to aim for the stars!

  10. Daquan Wright on the 3rd November

    Well I’m just a CS Student that dabbles in freelance web development, but it can’t hurt to say what tunes I enjoy!

    Music categories would be techno, underground hip hop (Samurai Champloo, Fat Jon, note this is very soothing music with little lyrics), sometimes rock, and a lot of Japanese pop music. So basically I can listen to many different types of music. If I want to mellow out, I’ll just listen to some classical or jazzy tunes. 🙂

  11. Michele Rubino on the 3rd November

    Pandora online radio softly playing in the background, keeps me humming along all day at the office. I’m a classic rock junkie and “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers always energizes me when I hear it:

  12. webdesignerslog on the 4th November

    Music is a great savior at work … for me … specially i listen rock when i have to develop some designs…

  13. Michael on the 4th November

    I’m going to side with your boyfriend on this. Nothing like the pulsating rhythms of Underworld or Orbital to focus the mind. I find it perfect for coding.

    Today’s iPod playlist includes: Burial, Moderat and Bent 🙂

  14. Sven on the 4th November

    I’m all the way listening to some Tech House / Progressive House / House / Minimal Podcasts on iTunes (mostly “HouseNation UK” and the “Tinker Podcast”). Althrough i’m mixing my own Sets and listen to them. I totally can’t listen to any other music.

  15. Thibault Milan on the 4th November

    Hop your playlist on spotify :

    And my little contribution : all on starred here

  16. Clara Freeman on the 4th November

    Very impressive list, Susan! I never listen or watch Glee:( better get in the groove huh? My all time fav for feeling good times when working? Darius Rucker’s While I still Got The Time!


  17. Mark Murphy on the 4th November

    Another vote for Mogwai and the whole instrumental (post) rock genre … I discovered this style while working on my MBA dissertation at home and needed something ‘different’ to keep me focussed. As a huge fan of ‘alternative’ music and being from Scotland I should have been a Mogwai fan before then but hadn’t taken the time to embrace the genre … now its a constant on the ipod while at work.

    Newcomers to Mogwai should get their latest live recording “Special Moves”.

    Other bands to listen to in the same genre include Mono, Explosions in the Sky, Caspian, Jakob, Pg.lost, This Will Destroy You

  18. Esteban Carpio on the 4th November

    My job involves moving around a lot, but when I’m at last in my office or working home, I listen to everything listed in my profile:

  19. Clara Freeman on the 4th November

    I’d better check out Glee! My favorite song sto get my creative juices flowing or, simply jam to ? The Darius Rucker Learn to live CD… I especially luv While I Still Got The Time.

    Thanks Susan!

  20. Esteban Carpio on the 4th November

    Pretty much anything between this:

  21. Miguel Puig on the 8th November

    Hello I’m a Graphic Designer, web developer from Spain, I share my Spotify list that sounds all the day! If you love rock / melodic music… Try It!

  22. BOCO Creative Web Design on the 13th November

    I work from home so I can pump up the volume a bit, if I want to. I also typically go to iTunes Radio and pick a station to fit my current mood. Perfect!

  23. Ian Bert Tusil on the 16th November

    I love listening to urbandub.

  24. Baris on the 1st December

    mine is all types of metal music, sometimes jazz,and many others, but mostly metal. but the list is changing all the time so i can t even call it as list.
    By the way, i am an architect. 🙂 A crazy architect (not famous yet) >:)

  25. Brian on the 20th November

    love this one :

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