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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.