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Nine playlists to guide your workday from morning to evening

The right soundtrack can inspire your thinking and put you in the right mood for tackling your to-do list. We asked nine music industry experts and enthusiasts to compile the best playlists to get you through your workday.

Skip ahead to a playlist: Get your morning started, Get inspired and creative, Folksy afternoon, Instrumental, Get focused, Kid-friendly jams, Musical optimism, Workday wind-down, Music for kids

Photo illustration: Jeanine Brito Source photos: Jake Givens / Unsplash; Chris Donovan / The Canadian Press; Christopher Polk / Getty Images

For getting your morning started

Playlist by Nathan Stein, Director of A&R and International Relations, Dine Alone Records

“I like to have positive, upbeat music first-thing to start the day right. I play fun songs while making breakfast and tackling the first e-mails of the day. This playlist has new songs mixed in with some old, familiar tracks. I don’t want anything too distracting, but every now and again it’s good to vibe out with an older favourite. The biggest part of my job is listening to music. Having my own space to listen has been nice about working from home. Sometimes I’ll take a break from my laptop, sit on the couch and get lost in something new while making notes on my phone. By the time the end of the day hits I’m putting on old favourites and catching up with loved ones.”

Photo illustration: Jeanine Brito Source photos: Evan Agostini / The Associated Press; Dimities Kambouris / Getty Images; Adrianna Geo / Unsplash

Songs for creative work

Playlist by Kaya Pino, Music Supervisor, Supergroup Sonic Branding Co.

“As a music supervisor, my listening is split into two different forms – listening for work and listening for inspiration. I grew up as a dancer and bring those principles of music and movement to my work. This playlist is about inspiring creativity and brainstorming so a key component is music that makes you want to move. When I’m listening to music for work, I’ll use my headphones to get into the nuances of a song. But if I’m looking for inspiration, I use my speakers so I can dance around my apartment. Either way, the volume is always loud.”

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Photo illustration: Jeanine Brito Source photos: Della Rollins / The Globe and Mail; Mark Zaleski, The Canadian Press; Indrajeet Choudhary / Unsplash

For a folksy afternoon

Playlist by Bekah Simms, Composer

“As a composer currently working on a very detailed score for the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (ECM+), a modern Canadian chamber orchestra, I usually start with writing music or editing my musical material in the morning when I have the clearest head. After a few hours, my endurance for creative work starts to wane and I need to shift gears. So this playlist is for that middle part of my work routine, the administrative part of being a musician: answering e-mails, applying for opportunities, writing grants, etc. I can then start to move away from the music in my head toward something a little more straightforward and chill. I like a lot of genres, but I have focused on folk for this playlist since I find the genre comforting and familiar.”

Photo illustration: Jeanine Brito Source photos: Mirrorpix via Getty Images; Danny Clinch

Instrumental music to work to

Playlist by Asha Dillion, Executive Producer, The Wilders

“Working primarily in music and audio for film and TV, my days are filled with scores and songs that are eclectic in style, tone and palette. This playlist is a perfect snapshot of a day, a.m. to p.m., working from home. I like to start my mornings with bright solo piano and orchestral pieces, transitioning into the popular sounds of the 1950s and 60s for an uplift and afternoon inspiration. Late afternoon is when I start to put some of my favourite records on. And in the evening, I love to hear dusky and familiar standards as I wrap up my day.”

Photo illustration: Jeanine Brito Source photos: Mirrorpix via Getty Images; Danny Clinch

For when you need to focus

Playlist by Jeffrey Remedios, Chairman and CEO, Universal Music Canada

“The key to a good work playlist is that it makes you feel good without being so good it takes your focus away. Volume level is key: not too loud but loud enough that you can pick up the nuance if you try. My “stay focused” playlist is contemporary classical, indie chill, mellow jams and heartbreaker singers. Work is busy enough so the soundtrack needs to be counterprogrammed – beautiful yet balanced so you can lean in or just let it wash over you while you work."

Photo illustration: Jeanine Brito Source photos: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters; John Lehmann / The Globe and Mail; Igor Starkov / Unsplash

Kid-friendly songs for working from home

Playlist by Meghan Kraemer, Creative Director, The Hive

“When we decided to become parents, there was no question that I would ‘do both.’ Of course, I didn’t imagine that meant video conference calls with a baby on my hip. Music has always been important to my creative process and I’m seeing first-hand how it can inspire my kids, too. They’re now 14 months and three-and-a-half years old. This playlist is preschooler approved but it won’t grate on parents’ tired ears. Whether we’re pretending to be robots to Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic or belting out Robyn’s Dancing On My Own, it’s the soundtrack for our daily dance parties. Nothing breaks up a slog of Zoom calls quite like seeing a toddler bust a move.”

Photo illustration: Jeanine Brito Source photos: Galit Rodan / The Globe and Mail; Ryan Enn Hughes / The Globe and Mail; Taylor Van Riper / Unsplash

Musical optimism at a time of adversity

Playlist by Rainbow Robert, Managing Artistic Director, Vancouver International Jazz Festival

“I have begun to listen to music in a very different way while working from home, exploring new elements and discovering new layers of meaning. Music that is capable of enhancing awareness and reinvigorating a sense of purpose is the elixir that keeps me focused and inspired. The music sinks in deep and delivers a message of optimism, awareness, strength and perseverance in a state of global adversity. It transports us while shifting our perspective and delivering a potent reminder to stand by our beliefs and values in this rapidly shifting landscape.”

Photo illustration: Jeanine Brito Source photos: Farrenton Gigsby / Getty Images; Bennett Raglin / Getty Images for ESSENCE; Jordan Wozniak / Unsplash

For wrapping up your workday

Playlist by Sammy Rawal, music video director and DJ

“Music plays a pretty integral role in my workflow. As a music video director and DJ, music to me is all about creating the perfect vibe. Music is also a soundtrack for every activity I do throughout the day. Its power to inspire, motivate, energize and heal are pretty profound. Depending on the time of day or task at hand, I use different types of music to help me. I love listening to old Motown in the morning, for example, because it brings my energy levels up and puts me on track for the day ahead of me. This specific playlist is made up of tracks I’d listen to at the end of my workday – writing a few last e-mails and wrapping stuff up before I shut my computer down for the night. I love listening to songs like this while starting to make dinner and smoking my ritual end-of-work spliff.”

Photo illustration: Jeanine Brito Source photos: Jeff Miller / The Canadian Press; Owen Egan / The Globe and Mail; Susan Holt Simpson / Unsplash

Keeping young ones entertained

Playlist by Catherine O'Grady, Artistic Director, Ottawa International Children’s Festival

“Music. It keeps the world connected. Now that we are social distancing, a shared love of music enables families to feel as though they are engaged with loved ones and our society. Music can make working from home easier as it allows us to escape the mundane and to explore a world we enjoy. Music inspires creativity in children. Listening to music allows young minds to make connections with what they are learning while they hear the music they love.”

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Credits: Collected by ANDREA YU; Editing by STEPHANIE CHAN; Design and development by JEANINE BRITO

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