The Optimist’s Daily Mix

The science on whether or not it’s productive to listen to music while working isn’t straightforward. When the BBC did a piece on whether or not music helps us work better, their result was “It depends.” Sometimes it helps us focus, sometimes it distracts us. Here at Online Optimism, we care about music a lot, so we were obviously curious. We went straight to our Optimists to find out what works best for them. 

For those that listen to music while working, they say the music removes external distractions. Our Social Media Director Meara says that “Listening to music while working puts me in a good mood and makes me feel more capable of accomplishing hard or monotonous tasks.” Our Digital Ads Director Esteban also says that music helps him enter a “FLOW.” Research backs them up. Music makes it easier to perform repetitive tasks and improves performance. According to 7pace, “Studies have shown that people who listen to music while they work tend to be in better moods, produce work with fewer mistakes, and work more efficiently.” 

Our Optimists have to work with a number of different clients and accomplish many different tasks each day. Casey, one of our Content Associates, says listening to music throughout the day provides some needed consistency that allows them to keep working through their tasks at a steady pace. Gabby, our Social Media Specialist, says, “I’m generally a big music person so listening to it while working gives me a sense of comfort and keeps me motivated.” 

Some people listen to music while they work but are unable to listen to music with lyrics. Alex, one of our Content Specialists,  says that “wordless music can drown out the other sounds around me. Music is typically constant, while things such as road noise or talking is sporadic and distracting.” Alex loves Bach and Mozart and his favorite focus music is Bach’s Cello Suites. 

Our Search and Content Director, Lauren, on the other hand, never listens to music while she works. Most of her day involves writing, reading, editing, and researching and she says it’s hard to concentrate when she hears other sounds. She says, “Even if it doesn’t have lyrics, it distracts me as I unintentionally listen for patterns or anticipate music I recognize.”

Team Playlists

Whether or not they listen to music while they work, most of our Optimists share a love of music. We want to encourage that as a company. Every month, we create a themed playlist that all of our Optimists can add songs to. Here are a few examples of the playlists we’ve made in the past.   

Everyone can listen and discuss the songs in our #music channel on Slack. Optimists also use the channel to send music recommendations and share new releases.

Optimistic Recommendations

Since we were already talking about music, we wanted to get an idea of what musical artists Optimists have been listening to. 

Flynn (CEO): I shamelessly still listen to whatever music I could find on Kazaa in the early 2000s: Guttermouth, Nofx, Bouncing Souls, and most of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater albums.

JP (Design Director): J Balvin, Bad Bunny, Karol G, ABBA, Andrea Bocelli 

Irene (Business Development Director): The Weeknd, Drake, Doja Cat, Dave, Wizkid, Pa Salieu

Savannah (Content Associate): Sam Smith, Willow Smith, Billie Ellish, Mahalia, Lil Nas X, Lawrence, Brasstracks, 

Esteban (Digital Ads Director): Francis Bebey (ethnomusicologist), Tycho, Bad Bunny

Meara (Social Media Director): The Maine, AJR, The Lumineers, Olivia Rodrigo, Maisie Peters

Casey (Content Associate): Phoebe Bridgers, Japanese Breakfast, Mitski, H.E.R., Mal Blum, Neko Case, SZA, Declan McKenna, The Mountain Goats, My Chemical Romance

Lauren (Search & Content Director): The Matches, AFI, blink 182, Social Distortion, Tiger Army, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Doja Cat, deadmau5

Kat (Multimedia Creative Strategist): Vampire Weekend, Bon Iver, Hozier, The Lumineers, Radiohead, James Blake, Hippo Campus, Bowerbirds, Local Natives, Billie Eilish, Willow, Post Malone, St. Vincent, Fleet Foxes, Joji, Alcest, Killers

Alex (Content Specialist): I love Bach and Mozart 

Katherine (Digital Designer): Radiator Hospital, Punch Brothers, Kacey Musgraves, Local Natives, Hiatus Kaiyote

Jordan (Content Strategist): Post Malone, Talking Heads, Olivia Rodrigo, Vampire Weekend, Fleet Foxes, Foxygen, AJR

Laura (Digital Design Specialist): Takashi Kokubo, Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffalos, Sevdaliza, Nathy Peluso, Kota the Friend, Summer Walker, Manuela Garcia, Juanes, Maky

Allyson (Content Specialist): Day to day, I have eclectic taste. I can go from classic rock to showtunes to folk music at the drop of a hat. AC/DC, Marina and the Diamonds, Fall Out Boy, Lady Gaga, and LP are some top favs. 

Madison (Social Media Associate): Harry Styles, Olivia Rodrigo, One Direction, Luke Hemmings, Jon Bellion, Queen, Elton John

Gabby (Social Media Specialist): Ariana Grande, Harry Styles, The 1975, Frank Ocean, Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift, Rina Sawayama, The Weeknd, Lady Gaga, Lorde, Phoebe Bridgers, SZA, Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks, Kacey Musgraves, Glass Animals, One Direction, MARINA, Miley Cyrus, Olivia Rodrigo, ABBA, Doja Cat, Troye Sivan, Tyler The Creator, Tame Impala, HAIM

Amanda (Content Associate): Shakira, Guns N’ Roses, Patsy Cline 

Sara (Operations Coordinator): I really like late 60s and early 70s music. Bob Dylan, Donovan, Simon and Garfunkel, and Joni Mitchell, for example. I have personal playlists with this type of music mixed in with more modern artists like Regina Spektor, CocoRosie, First Aid Kit, and more. Sometimes I listen to Broadway cast recordings too. I especially like Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, My Fair Lady, Legally Blonde, Guys and Dolls, among many more.

Online Optimism’s Work Playlist

We asked, “What are some of your favorite songs to listen to while you work?” and put some of their answers in a playlist. Check out this collection of songs that help us focus.