One of the most difficult aspects of being a small business owner is managing your own energy and motivation levels on a day to day basis, especially if you work from home or alone.  And one of my favourite strategies to deal with this is to make a playlist of inspiring work music that I turn to when I feel tired, down, uncertain or stressed.

Not having strategies to deal with these feelings can cause you to lose hours of your time in non-productive work or in procrastination, which of course only makes you feel worse – it becomes a vicious cycle of more overwhelm, beating yourself up, having to work late to finish things you ‘should have done hours ago’ and feeling exhausted.  

Of course, this is not the exclusive domain of freelancers, the self-employed or small business owners.  Employees in all size organisations can feel the same!

Feelings are often overlooked in business; because of course there is so much to think about, to plan and to be doing.  However your feelings are the start point to you creating a more successful future, because your choices in each moment actually create your future.  

When you’re beating yourself up about the past or worrying about the future, those negative thoughts directly affect how you’re feeling, which affects the decisions you make moment by moment about what to do (or not do).  And your in/actions create your behaviour, which determine your habits, and your habits create the results you get.

So becoming aware of your feelings in the first instance, then developing an empowering habit to help shake you out of your negative feelings and thoughts of overwhelm, doubt or anxiousness, really is a beneficial way to spend a little of your time.

Music bypasses the intellectual mind, which is where you get stuck, and connects you to your emotional intelligence.  Think of your energy levels now – what piece of music or song captures that for you?  Feel it.  And if it’s not the feeling you want right now think of another song, then notice the difference in the way it makes you feel.

So now you know making a playlist of inspiring work music will be time well spent, how do you go about it?  

Here’s my suggestion:

  1. Get a sheet of paper and draw 3 vertical lines to create 4 columns.
  2. In the first column make a list of feeling words – the feelings that are unhelpful and you don’t want to have when you’re working e.g. anxious, uncertain, powerless, overwhelmed.
  3. In the second column write down the opposite of those feelings e.g. joyful, playful, powerful, peaceful, and add any extra feelings that come up for you - feelings you want to feel more of.
  4. If you have lots of similar feeling words you can group them together into themes in column 3. 
  5. In the last column note down any songs or pieces of music that you immediately associate with your good feeling words.

Now comes the exciting part!  At this stage you might already have a list of music or songs that you can easily pull together into a playlist.  Or you might want to spend a little time researching, to pull your list together. If you already have your list go onto step 7.

6.  The easiest way to research is by asking friends and on social media for songs that inspire, uplift, or represent the feeling words you’ve identified.  You can also access multiple articles and playlists if you want something off the shelf, rather than personal.  Or you simply wish to get started quickly.  Spotify has many such lists I believe (although I'm not on it personally.)

7.  Call your playlist something special.  Make it something you’ll want to check out and listen to e.g. your ‘inspiration’ or ‘magic’ playlist, and start to create in your mp3 player or phone

Now whenever you recognise your energy is flagging, you’re unproductive, exhausted or whatever else is causing you to struggle or feel bad in some way, you can switch on your music.  I recommend dancing too, but that might depend where you are and how confident you feel ?

Don’t underestimate the power of a couple of hours of your time spent wisely, and don’t underestimate the power of music.  It can bring you back fully to the present as a powerful and highly creative person with choices, and it can act as a catalyst for aligned action that inspires and produces more of the results you want. An hour or two spent well now, and just minutes connecting to your music when you need it, really can be the difference that makes the difference for you.

Do let me know how you get on, or share your favourite songs to maintain energy levels and get work done.  And in a follow up article perhaps I'll share my own playlist?


Note:  This article was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated