Most of the time, it’s cool to work in an open office. I feel connected to my coworkers, which is great, but there’s also a problem; if my neighbors are talking about something marginally more interesting than my work, my focus goes out the window. Fifteen minutes go by before I finally look at the clock, realize how much time I’ve wasted, and spend the next hour in a state of anxiety trying to catch up.
My solution was pretty simple — music and a solid pair of noise-muffling headphones — but even that didn’t work. Every time the track changed, my brain went, “New song?! Time to adjust the volume, add seven more tracks to my queue, browse through the artist’s discography, check Twitter, and answer some emails.” The stress and anxiety didn’t go away. I was so desperate, I resorted to choosing one song and putting it on repeat for eight hours straight until it turned into a blur of background noise in my headphones.
Then, YouTube saved me. I was browsing one day, falling down the “recommended videos” rabbit hole as usual, when I started clicking on chill mixes: hour-long mashup videos, each comprised of dozens of slow, introspective tracks (usually electronic or orchestral) to help you concentrate, tune out the world, or just chill out. They seemed promising, so I chose one to play in the background when I sat down to work the next day.
Let’s just say I’ve found my holy grail. The songs in these mixes are slow but immersive, so I’m interested but not distracted. And each song is mixed directly into the next, like a DJ set; no more getting distracted when songs change abruptly.
Listening to these relaxing mixes has helped me focus and stay calm at work. While listening to chill mixes doesn’t make all the stress and anxiety go away — I still have all the work, I still have to get it all done — it puts me in a focused, relaxed headspace where I feel like I can accomplish what I need to. I’ve even started listening to chill mixes before bed to calm down and fall asleep. They work so well as a lullaby that I play them on planes and trains, where I have a notoriously difficult time nodding off.
Ahead, check out the mixes I’ve been listening to every week at work, before bed, and whenever I need a moment of peace and concentration. For help focusing, calming your thoughts, and falling asleep, I can’t recommend this lovely corner of YouTube enough.