I’ve had a lot of job interviews. I had a harrowing time finding a full-time job after college and lost count after submitting about 300 job applications all over the country. By some accounts, it was the worst job market, I was in a particularly depressed area, and I had a liberal arts degree without a whole lot of experience. Thankfully I had a lot of volunteer experience and a great network, so I didn’t go too long with my litany of part-time gigs before getting a full-time position that I enjoyed. I am still haunted by some of the interviews, though, and remember the best and worst questions—everything from the cliched “What is your biggest weakness?” to unique things like “Name a song that describes you.” One question that I think I nailed was this: “How do you deal with monotonous work?”
That’s a crucial question. Whether you’re the big boss who has to sign stacks of checks or you’re the receptionist who has to file papers likely never to be seen again, everyone has some tedious task they hate doing. So how do you deal with it?
I didn’t even have to think about it as I answered, “Music.” Music helps me get a lot of boring or unpleasant things done. When I was working in the healthcare field and had to spend sometimes hours going through medical charts, taking them apart, just to fax them and put them back together, I turned to music. Instead of letting two months’ worth of papers stack up before I grumpily resigned myself to doing it, having a bad day drudging through them, I’d take a few minutes to make a playlist. Then I could shut my office door and hammer out all of my filing in relatively short order without letting the boring task ruin my day. I’m not the only one who has noticed this effect. Several sources show that listening to music at work improves productivity.
The same approach works for exercise. When I’m experiencing what I call a “run-fail” where I just can’t get motivated to keep going, I turn to one of the Pandora workout stations and give myself some time to get pumped before giving it another go. You can literally get a lot of mileage out of the right songs.
If you need some epic inspiration to get something done—anything from expense reports to endurance training or cleaning the whole house—here is my suggested list of the right songs for the job. My music knowledge is limited to only a few genres, so feel free to share your favorites in the comments, and remember to consider what’s appropriate for work if that’s where you’ll be listening!
“You’re the Best” – Theme from Karate Kid by Joe Esposito
“Outlaw Blues” – Grace Slick
“Run to the Hills” – Iron Maiden
“Move Over” – Janis Joplin
“Don’t Stop Me Now” – Queen
“These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” – Nancy Sinatra
“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” – Michael Jackson
“Born to Run” – Bruce Springsteen
“Dog Days are Over” – Florence + The Machine
“Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think)” – Louis Prima
“Touch of Grey” – Grateful Dead
“Won’t Back Down” – Tom Petty
“Tongue Tied” – Grouplove
“Breakin’ Up” – Rilo Kiley
“We are Golden” – MIKA