Use music to help context-switch
A manager Katie Womersley from Buffer faced context-switching problems. She often has several calls back to back and need to shift emotional context quickly. She sometimes carries the mindset and energy of one meeting through to the next and it leaves her less emotionally attuned.
She needed a way to effectively play each role she has — engineer, engineering manager, engineering leadership team and senior management team — when there are sometimes only minutes to switch her mindset and get on the right wavelength.
She created a playlist for every role. She found that she instinctively knew how to handle herself in most meetings.
She gets into the zone much faster and is much more able to bring the right energy to the situation. She feel her productivity have been higher since she stopped trying to brute-force this switch cognitively and tapped into the feeling of a song.
Create an account on Spotify or Apple Music
Spotify or Apple Music is a digital music streaming service that gives you access to millions of songs, podcasts and videos from artists all over the world.
Spotify is immediately appealing because you can access content for free by simply signing up and start sharing music with the group.
Identify the different role in a day
Identify recurring role in day: engineer, engineering manager, engineering leadership team and senior management team
Build a playlist for each role
The engineering work playlist: She has a trusty coding playlist. The first three notes are almost pavlovian; She switchs into deep focus very quickly.
The engineering manager playlist. She choses brighter, calmer feeling songs for engineering manager playlist because that’s the energy she seeks to bring into the 1:1 relationship. Music as Go your own way by Fleetwood Mac is a bit different and has a special purpose to her — the chorus is to remind her that each engineer will one day go their own way, so it’s something of a judgment day for a manager: people leave managers, not companies.
The Buffer leadership team playlist starts with Devlin’s All along the watchtower. She've chosen a remix of a remix of a classic — she can recognize Hendrix’s guitar riff, the pace of Dylan’s cryptic lyrics. It’s a collective work but also a very different song.
Switch playlist when you change role
This does not have to last particularly long. Listen to the music for a few minutes before going back to work.
Bonus: A Motivational Playlist from the Team
She even has a collaborative playlist for the team, with all the most motivating songs. The team found amazing to listen to what teammates listen to to get pumped up.
In a remote team, these small chances to feel close and connected throughout the day are what hold it all together.