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Whether you need to zone in or zone out.

By Stacey Leasca
April 01, 2021
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For many, working from home has become the new norm. Sure, it comes with plenty of perks, like no more commute, the ability to work in sweatpants, and to be a little more flexible with personal time. But there are a few things you may miss—the hum of office lights, the low chatter of coworkers catching up by the water fountain, and the tap tap tap of a pen hitting the table during a meeting—the things that make up the chorus of office life. 

Luckily, if you're struggling to stay sane in your too-quiet (or crowded and distracting) at-home office, there's something you can do about it. Fill the silence, get inspired, and recreate the energy of a creative, productive environment by downloading a podcast to listen to while you work. Not everyone can have a podcast (or music or a TV show) playing while trying to get work done, but many folks find that the added background noise helps boost their focus and make the hours fly faster. Especially if you're working on something particularly menial or manual (like filling out a repetitive spreadsheet), listening to a podcast is a great way to pass the time while being entertained, catching up on news, or learning something new.

By popping on a podcast, you get to decide what your "office" sounds like—something educational, inspirational, or white-noise-worthy? It's up to you. Here are a few awesome podcasts you'll love listening to on the clock.

1
For a pop culture deep-dive: ID10T

Since 2010, Chris Hardwick has taken curious fans on weekly journeys into the belly of pop culture with his podcast ID10T (formally known as Nerdist). Major celebrities like Mathew McConaughey, Elizabeth Shue, and Lou Diamond Phillips stop by regularly to talk about their shows, their favorite fan theories, or whatever’s happening in the cultural zeitgeist.

2
To reevaluate your entire life: Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations

Seriously, is there anything Oprah can’t do? The queen of daytime TV has now become the queen of inspirational podcasting with her show Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations. Each episode explores a new way we all can become better, more insightful people and often includes a celebrity guest who shares their wisdom. Guests include quarterback Tom Brady, who tells listeners how to reach peak performance, and Fixer Upper’s Chip and Joanna Gaines, who share their insights into a lasting working and personal relationship.

3
To inspire your next great idea: How I Built This

Ever dream about building your own business instead of working for someone else? Download a few episodes of How I Built This, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get inspired to take the next step. Host Guy Raz chats with guests to learn all the nitty-gritty details about how they built their companies, from their very start to managing millions. Guests include the likes of Howard Schultz of Starbucks and Rick Steves, who reveals all the secrets to making it big in the travel world.

4
For a true-crime fix: Morbid: A True Crime Podcast

True crime junkies and BFFs, Alaina Urquhart-White (an autopsy technician) and Ash Kell (a hairstylist), host Morbid, where they banter about all things sinister—from kidnappings to serial killers—focusing on a new creepy case every episode. But don’t worry, they break up the heavy topics with light humor—so if you’re a fan of true crime stories, but aren’t trying to freak yourself out (or get too distracted) during the workday, this is a great murder-themed pod to download during your more tedious tasks.

RELATED: 10 Captivating Podcasts for the True Crime-Obsessed

5
To zone out to incredible music: NPR's Tiny Desk Concert

Music can do wonders for your workday. In fact, according to science, it could help reduce anxiety and stress, improve cognitive function, and even help reduce pain (though hopefully, you don’t need that at your job). But rather than listen to any old radio station, tune in to NPR's Tiny Desk Concert. Listen in as A-list music talents like Adele, Passion Pit, Alicia Keys, and more stop by All Songs Considered host, Bob Boilen's desk to play their favorite songs.

6
For some much-needed perspective: The Great Fail

Look, not everything we do in life or in business is going to be a win. And that’s OK, because it simply means you’re learning important lessons on your way to the top. Need to commiserate with others about your losses? Listen to The Great Fail hosted by Debra Chen, where each episode unpacks some truly epic business fails, including the downfall of Blockbuster, the shuttering of Tower Records, and the “unraveling” of American Apparel.

7
To brush up on pop gossip: The Read

Miss gossiping with your office besties over breakroom coffee? Make up for lost time by downloading The Read hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle. This weekly pod covers “hip-hop and pop culture's most trying stars.” As the duo says, their podcast is about “throwing shade and spilling tea with a flippant and humorous attitude, no star is safe from Fury and Crissle unless their name is Beyoncé.” Make sure to stay tuned for major surprise celebrity guests as well.

8
To stay informed on current events (from both sides): The Argument

You may already scan the most worthy daily news while sipping your morning cup of caffeine, but the news doesn't stop once you login to work. Stay informed and go deep into the most timely and hotly debated topics of the moment with The Argument, a weekly podcast from the New York Times. Host Jane Coaston mediates lively discussions between interviewees (with very strong opinions) from both sides of the argument. Whether it's about student loan debt or cancel culture, the conversations are never boring and always enlightening—and often get heated.

9
For soothing background sounds: The White Noise Podcast

When things get too quiet at home, but you’re not in the mood for full-on chatter, it's time to turn on The White Noise Podcast. This podcast is just as its name suggests, white noise, but each episode comes with some unique background sounds, including everything from “wind and forest” to “dishwasher” noise, “bubble wrap” popping, and even “mac and cheese” stirring. Play them sequentially or find a favorite to play it on repeat for a workday ASMR experience that helps you get stuff done.

RELATED: 6 Motivational Podcasts for Living Your Happiest, Healthiest Life