A professor I respect immensely used to give our law school evidence class "tips of the day." The vast majority of these were absolute gems: dress only in your signature palate of colours - it's easier, faster, and looks better; have a "default" restaurant order, like a cobb salad or the soup of the day, to reduce decision fatigue; figure out a "first things first"-type time management protocol that you follow without exception. All gold!
However, one of her tips I really took issue with. She said that you should never listen to music while working because the brain is not actually capable of multitasking.
While I generally agree that multitasking is a fool's errand, I find that building a personal soundtrack to the majority of my day is a huge mood booster and a natural productivity enhancer. My soundtrack of choice is CBC Radio 2 (shocking, I know). My love for Radio 2 truly set in while I was doing my masters in opera performance, when my side gig was working as a costumer's assistant. My beloved boss and I worked stupid long hours around rehearsals and classes, and often leading up to a run we would be in the costume shop on and off from sun-up past sundown. We would fit and alter and embellish and repair and curate hundreds of costumes to the sweet soundtrack of Morning then Tempo then Shift then Drive then Canada Live then Tonic then The Signal (yes, often all the way through.) With caffeine and Radio 2, we were unstoppable.
Flash forward to today, where I work in a fairly isolated office in a far-flung corner of a law firm. My work involves primarily research and drafting, which any lawyer or law student will tell you can be simultaneously immensely stressful and somewhat pedantic. It's quite similar to working as a costumer: the work is constant, it requires a flowy-state of calm engagement and curiosity, parts of it are exciting and fascinating, and parts of it are absolutely necessary but really boring.
Hence, the return of my soundtrack.
Adding a personal soundtrack to your everyday routine is like adding an extra layer of goodness. It gives you an energetic boost, it reinforces personal identity, and it imbues even the most gruelling of tasks with more joy, more colour, and more life. Rather than multitasking, I think of myself as soundtracking. I'm the heroine of the movie of my life, and any good movie deserves a great soundtrack. For me, I'm a little bit indie, a little bit classical, and a little bit jazz. I'm a well-educated, liberal Canadian. I believe in governments supporting the public good, and I believe that making art accessible to all Canadians is imperatively in the public good. Beyond powering up my day, my soundtrack reinforces who I am, which is profoundly affirming and uplifting.
Pulling art that you resonate with into your day builds up your personal identity, just like a soundtrack builds up the overall character of a film. Because of this, I challenge you to do two things: consider your own personal soundtrack and how it could more accurately reflect and bolster you through your day; and, ask yourself what other areas in your life could use curation to better enhance and magnify your own internal characteristics and gifts. Think of yourself as both hero and director of your own life.