6 Albums to Help You Get Through the Work Day

We’re in the home stretch to the holidays now. As Halloween and Thanksgiving are ushered out the door, the popular December holidays feel closer and more palpable. This year I’m looking forward to my most coveted holiday of all — paid time off. Which was initially a joke, but the more I think about it, the more it feels like a chilling reality of working life.

But before I can indulge in all of life’s greatest holiday pleasures — sleeping in and boozed-up eggnog with a hefty side of Lactaid — I’ll have to dredge through the last obligations of work. Mentally and emotionally, the coming weeks will consist of getting through the work day and preparing myself for family time and the frenetic nostalgia that always appears when I visit my hometown.

Things at work normally wind down during the holidays as everyone’s either out of town visiting family or already on PTO relaxing. I find that it’s easy to let my mind roam and getting work done is harder than normal. When this happens, I find it helpful to put on an album and zone in for the duration — usually a good 45 to 60 minutes of focus. And then go back to daydreaming about what I’m making for Christmas dinner and who I forgot to buy presents for.

For those of you who are in the same workday slump in anticipation for the holidays, allow me to recommend a few great music albums to help you focus at work.

A side-by-side of two images of the Fields by Devonté Hynes and Third Coast Percussion album cover, it is in colors of green and peach

Fields by Devonté Hynes and Third Coast Percussion

As soon as I began to think about albums I consistently work to, Fields was the first one to come to mind. You may know Devonté Hynes more popularly as indie artist Blood Orange, but his work on Fields takes a classical turn. It’s an ambient, percussive album that I frequently use to focus. Plus, it hits that sweet spot of one hour if you’re trying to keep your work sessions even.

Side by side album covers of Going Under OST by feasley, which shows an illustration of a jazz band in multiple bright colors

Going Under OST by feasley

Would it be a recommendation if I didn’t try and also sell you on a video game to play as well? Going Under OST is what it sounds like — an original soundtrack. What charms me about this album is that the video game that the soundtrack comes from is about working as an intern for a corrupt tech company. It’s goofy, fun, and there’s no lyrics to distract you!

Side by side album covers of Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds by Vegyn

Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds by Vegyn

Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds is the album you send your Gen Z coworker as a recommendation for working music. If you’re into electronic glitch-pop sounding tracks without vocals, Vegyn’s got you covered. It’s a solid choice for a good 40 minutes of work and something I enjoy listening to outside of work, too.

Side by side album covers for Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds by Vegyn

Mother Earth’s Plantasia by Mort Garson

I just recently started working to this album. The entire reason why Mother Earth’s Plantasia was produced, was for it to be played directly to plants. I like to think this early electronic album is healing my many questionable looking houseplants, but at the same time it’s the perfect album for getting through the work day.

Side by side album covers for Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds by Vegyn

Lester Young With The Oscar Peterson Trio by Lester Young and Oscar Peterson Trio

For those who can only work while listening to jazz and classical music, this one’s for you! This album instantly transports me to college when I’d work in little bookstore cafes and work on my little poetry assignments. Lester Young With The Oscar Peterson Trio is comforting and warm. There’s a great mix of slower and higher pace songs and Lester Young is a vision on the saxophone.

Side by Side album covers for Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds by Vegyn

Con Todo El Mundo by Khruangbin

Maybe you want something a little more lowkey. Khruangbin’s Con Todo El Mundo is for you. Besides the fact that I have a huge crush on their bass player Laura Lee, Khruangbin makes music that’s perfect for working, studying, or swaying around your room with a glass of wine. I could describe this album best as taking a walk when it’s hot enough to see the heat rise over the pavement, but I’d rather you listen for yourself and gather your own opinions.

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Julie Gentile

Julie is a writer by night and marketing bot by day. She enjoys long video game playthroughs and pretending like she didn’t internalize every single episode of Glee. Contact her at julie[at]autostraddle[dot]com.

Julie has written 23 articles for us.


  1. Ooh yeah – really good list as I’m trying to Monday after taking last week off. Looking forward to checking out Fields and Con Todo El Mundo – I like Khruangbin but haven’t heard that album yet.

    For the jazz lovers in here, I also recommend:

    Oscar Peterson Plays the Duke Ellington Songbook
    A Jazz Portrait of Frank Sinatra – Oscar Peterson Trio
    Johnny Hodges with Billy Strayhorn and the Orchestra
    The In Crowd – Ramsey Lewis Trio

  2. Ooh! Perfect timing! I don’t usually put on music while I work unless it’s a purely physical activity like cleaning. But, I was just thinking I needed to vary my albums I play in class for my students during longer writing assignments. I used to play classical music but most pieces have a lot of variation in volume and tempo, which can be distracting, so I turn to LoFi playlists a lot.

    My current favorite for work/reading time is “Pastel Moods” by Oscar Peterson. Lovely and peaceful for work, but it doesn’t sound like elevator music.

    Going to try out Fields tomorrow!

  3. Thanks for these recommendations! Good work music is critical!!

    Lately I love working to _Daring Mind_ by Jihye Lee Orchestra (instrumental jazz, dynamic and surprising but not SO all over the place) plus Sunna Wehrmeijer’s albums (including She-Ra and the Princesses of Power OST) and anything by guitar genius Yasmin Williams.

  4. Way late to the party, but some ultimate albums for working to:

    Fejká – Reunion
    Emancipator – Soon It Will Be Cold Enough is my fav but any of their albums works
    Umami – In Exchange for Everything
    Liam Thomas – Cosmos ******** can’t recommend enough!
    Balmorhea – All Is Wild, All Is Silent is my fav but you can’t go wrong with any of their albums
    Explosions in the Sky – The Rescue
    God Is An Astronaut – A Moment of Stillness

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