When Music Just Won’t Do

November 6, 2017

Everyone has their personal favorite techniques for getting through the workday. Whether it’s a favorite playlist or soundtrack from a movie, we all have that something that gets us in the zone. For me, music is definitely key. But for the times I’m staring a long research project in the face, I’ll opt for something a bit more involved: podcasts.

Podcasts have been all the rage in the last couple years. In fact, it seems that every comedian or author is coming out with one. If you’re not sure where to begin, a simple Google search will do the trick. But there are some podcasts that are too complicated to listen to while concentrating on work. Below are my favorite podcasts for easy listening during the start or end of your workday.

“Hidden Brain” by NPR

This weekly podcast is focused around the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior. Using science and storytelling, each episode explores a particular theme around life choices and relationships. What I like most about “Hidden Brain” is that the angle of each episode varies so much from week to week, and never seems overly pretentious or one-sided. Each episode is about 30 minutes long, and makes for an easy listen in the morning or afternoon.

“Invisibilia” by NPR

This podcast rolls out in seasons, meaning the most recent season has already ended. But, if you’re new to “Invisibilia,” you’ll have a lot to catch up on! The word invisibilia is Latin for invisible things, and this podcast is about just that: the invisible forces that control human behavior. Themes vary slightly but are all focused around ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions for well-rounded episodes that last about 40 minutes.

“Terrible, Thanks for Asking” by American Public Media

This one can be a little difficult to listen to at work, as the topics are often emotional and hard-hitting. However, if you’re in need of something to put you at ease as you wade through a long list of emails, this will do the trick. And although the topics are often very sad, each episode ends up actually pretty uplifting.

“Dear Sugar” from WBUR

Perhaps my ultimate favorite, “Dear Sugar” is an advice podcast from writers Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond. Each episode focuses on a question or questions submitted by listeners. What I love about this podcast is how genuine both Cheryl and Steve are. In fact, the two sometimes disagree in their advice, and they often call on an expert to remain impartial. New episodes are usually released on Friday, so it’s become a favorite of mind to end the week.

“Modern Love” from WBUR

And lastly, for a quick listen that is beautiful and heartfelt, there is “Modern Love” – the podcast. Based on real stories of love, loss and redemption, Modern Love has been a column in The New York Times for years. In 2016, they decided to turn featured stories into weekly podcast episodes, each read by a famous actor or actress for extra flair. The stories are relatively short, so it makes for a nice lunchtime listen to inspire you for the rest of the afternoon.