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Visit the Writerly Play Studio and tap into divergent thinking with this Productivity Playlists activity. Never heard of the WP Studio? Learn how Writerly Play thinking strategies supercharge your creativity here.

productivity playlists

Everybody loves a shortcut.

A playlist is not only fun to make. It’s also a creativity shortcut. Why? Sound provides a doorway into mental spaces that are shaped by your memories, your emotions and your internal rhythm. We don’t have to dig into scientific tomes to know this is true. We’ve had the experience of encountering a song we haven’t heard for years and been transported back in time, sometimes so vividly that we can even smell a remembered place.

If you’re interested in the science of how music affects your brain, here is a video you might enjoy: How Music Affects Your Brain

Music is a powerful tool.

That’s why it’s important to use it strategically. For instance, you don’t want to be distracted from today’s tasks with unrelated blasts from the past. That’s why a productivity playlist is an excellent solution. If you curate music for specific tasks, rather than being distracted, you’re transported into the exact environment you need.

A caveat: There is definitely some research out there that points to silence as the best soundtrack for deeply focused thinking. You may find that playing a short song or two before a creative session is actually the most productive use of playlists for you. In any case, there are likely tasks that will flow better with music, and others that will not. The only one who can determine what works best for you is YOU!

Create your Productivity Playlists:

  1. Brainstorm two or three types of thinking you need to do in your day. Maybe you’re working on a novel or a screenplay. Maybe there’s a part of your day when you want to keep up your momentum and move quickly through email. Maybe you need to spend part of your day on detail-rich tasks, such as spreadsheets or on the back end of WordPress.
  2. For each thinking mode, ask yourself: What mood matches this task? List two-five adjectives. Think beyond emotion into sensory feelings. You might even ask yourself: If this task had a genre, what would it be?
  3. With your adjectives in mind, head to your favorite music source to create your playlists. Here’s an article with some fantastic tips for choosing the right music for your perfect playlist. Music for Optimal Productivity
  4. Test out your playlists and revise them as you go. Beware of over-optimizing your playlists before you even put them to use. (Over-optimization is fancy procrastination!) You’ll know what isn’t working when trouble shows up. You can fix problems as you go.

That’s it! Go try it out, and then come on back and let me know how this strategy works for you. Share your comments below.

P.S. Need a shortcut for your shortcut? Here’s some ready-made curated playlists for specific purposes. 

P.P.S. While we’re on the topic of playlists, here’s an powerful post from Mandy Davis on playlists as a tool to work through grief. Absolutely worth a read.