By Winfield Salyards, Marketing Coordinator at Heinz Marketing

Happy Friday!  It’s been a long week of projects for me and when it’s crunch time on my deliverables I often need to shut out everything and hunker down to get it done.  To do this I, as many people do, throw on my headphones and put on some music to ‘shut out the world’.

Now, the music I listen to when working must align with 3 requirements.  These are: it can’t be distracting, track length can’t be too short, and the tone of the playlist or album needs to be consistent.  The first rule is an obvious one.  If I focus on the music, I can’t focus on my work.  But the others are a little more nuanced.  The reason (for me) tracks can’t be too short and should have a consistent tone is because it ties into them being distracting.  If the tracks change too fast, that switch pulls me away from my work, breaking my concentration.  In that same vein, if the track-to-track tone shifts massively, that change causes my focus to shift as well.  So, with these rules in mind, here are the current five albums that I reach for when I need to get stuff done:

  1. All Melody – Nils Frahm (2018)

Total Runtime: 1hr 14min

Genre: Electronic/Ambient

This first album is an electronic/ambient album by producer and multi-instrumentalist Nils Frahm.  This is a great album to work to because of its chill and meditative compositions that also have a steady energy to them that keeps you from zoning out.  Furthermore, the tracks on the album flow together with minimal break in between, allowing for a continuous flow to the music that doesn’t break concentration.

  1. To Be Kind – Swans (2014)

Total Runtime: 2hrs 1min

Genre: Experimental Rock

Made up of many long form, droning and meditative, alternative rock tracks, Swan’s To Be Kind is an excellent choice to work to for those of you who enjoy rock on the more alternative or experimental end of the spectrum.  The thumping bass guitar and drums add a solid pulse to work to and get stuff done.  Also, the length of the tracks is a boon for mitigating distraction.

  1. The Phosphorescent Blues – Punch Brothers (2015)

Total Runtime: 46mins 42s

Genre: Bluegrass Americana

The shortest album of the list, Punch Brothers’ The Phosphorescent Blues begins with a stunning 10min long opener that really sets the tone for the rest of the album.  If you enjoy folk or contemporary bluegrass, this album is for you.  The tracks range in style from classical to bluegrass to folk but have consistency of virtuosity lent by the musicians of the group.  This album is stunning and it’s a great piece to work to because of it.

  1. The Epic – Kamasi Washington (2015)

Total Runtime: 2hrs 53mins

Genre: Jazz, Modern Big Band, Instrumental Hip-Hop

The longest album on the list, Kamasi Washington’s jazz epoch, The Epic, is a swelling show of contemporary jazz perfect for getting stuff done.  I like to listen to this album when I need to focus on one thing for a very extended period.  Give this one a listen.

  1. Mirror Reaper – Bell Witch (2017)

Total Runtime: 1hr 23mins

Genre: Sludge Metal, Doom Metal

Mirror Reaper is a sludge and drone metal album made up a single hour and twenty-minute-long track.  The heavy bass and deep guitar set up an excellent backdrop for shutting everything out.  I find I enjoy this track in the morning because it swells and builds overtime, so it’s not too jarring right away.

Total Runtime: ~45mins

Total Runtime: 1hr 22mins

Lots of research has been done on the effect of music on productivity and we know listening to it helps increase focus and work efficiency.  These are just some of the albums I like to listen to when needing to focus, and hopefully, one of these works for you as well.  If you enjoy listening to new music or are looking for something to work to, give one of these a try over the weekend to see if you enjoy it!