I never used to give podcasts a thought, and never even listened to them until 2017 [embarrassed]. After an epiphany, I’ve seen the error of my ways, and nowadays I’m addicted. I can spend hours each day listening to podcasts, whilst going about my everyday activities.
What took me so long?
Well I am not a great fan of apple, (it’s only place is in a index tracker in my opinion), and am not really a music person. Hence podcasts never really crossed my consciousness. My lifestyle is anti consumerist, so I wasn’t getting any hints podcasts had come a long way from their 2004 beginnings. A few times I’d dipped my toes in, and found poor quality content and a downloading/cable nightmare getting the audio to where I wanted it. Discovering castbox has been the main turning point for me. The app makes it easy to download and find podcasts, and integrates well with my Android phone.
When do I listen?
Always an optimiser, I want to make sure I make the most of my time. I walk a lot, prefering to walk than take the tube, apart from when it’s raining. I’m not a masochist. If I’m in the office I get a 4 mile walk each day. It’s also a normal occurance to walk the 2.5 miles from the city to the west end for an afterwork evening out. Walking keeps me healthy, and lets me feel in touch with the city and my surroundings. But sometimes I couldn’t help but feeling it was also dead time…not being used very productively. Adding podcasts to my walking time was an easy step and gives me some added variety to my walks. A win for podcasts.
I also run, and have discovered podcasts work well when running. Given I train for marathons, this adds up to a lot of time each week – 8 hours in hell week. No idea why I hadn’t realised this before, I falsely assumed they would be distracting or stop me hearing the traffic. In reality, neither of those are true. So podcasts for running is a second star.
And finally, when I’m doing boring repetitive work, I sometimes tune in to a podcast. I know multitasking sometimes gets a bad rap, but there is a time and place. When work is hard or needs absolute accuracy it’s not the right time. However when it’s reviewing code, emails, or mindless work I find having some background on can actually help the work get done. And working in IT, headphones are acceptable office wear when staring at code.
Podcasts aren’t books
Something I’m trying to teach myself. You can dip in and out of them. I’m someone who has to finish a book once I start it, no matter what. So it’s refreshing to treat podcasts differently. I use a pick-and-mix approach, skipping any episodes where I don’t like the topic, or I just find the content unengaging. Some interview shows really depend on the quality of the interviewee; some are fabulous, others are downright dull. Hence I’ve given myself permission to be selective, and use that skip button liberally.
My tendency is to rush, or go fast. If something can be done quicker, I do it quicker. Some content ends up very dumbed down nowadays (like Yoast suggesting your blog should be readable by a 13 year old!!). Whilst I understand children’s books, EFL books and government websites should be simple, there is a case for complexity. Life isn’t simple, it is nuanced, and I appreciate using language to convey that. I find the same with podcast audios, they are generally recorded very slowly, so a native English speaker needs to speed them up unless you are double tasking. This varys podcast to podcast, but I usually listen between 1.3 x and 2 x the original speed.
So what do I listen to?
As is everything in my life, my podcast choices are eclectic yet predictable.
Although there are some great basic money podcasts out there, I am much more interested in the advanced FIRE themed ones. I keep coming back to this list, and find the vast majority of the episodes highly useful and entertaining. They have great personal stories, and I always end up with more ideas and blogs to follow after listening to episodes.
Economics, News and Politics
There are so many to pick from here, from both sides of the pond. I tend try to stick to UK based news and politics, alothough I dip into the US from
- Freakonomics – now known as where you learned your role models were flawed human beings, when Indra Nooyi (Pepsi CEO) revealed how she believes and perpetuates 1950’s gender stereotypes. But usually a fascination listen into economic and business trends.
- Guardian – personal favourites are the weekly UK politics, and the audio versions of the long reads.
- BBC – most radio shows (who knows, it may make the Archers last forever), and even Prime Ministers Questions are podcasted out every week.
- On Being – one of the most engaging shows about what it means to live today. Random yet really eyepening at times.
- The Art of Manliness – whilst the title is fundamentally sexist, the content is applicable to both genders and embarrassingly I really like it.
- The Tim Ferris Show – he may not appeal to everyone, but if you love lifestyle hacks and trying extreme ideas, this is a great, albeit long listen each week.
- I will teach you a language – I am not a natural language learner, I need all the help and hints I can get, and Olly is full of suggestions.
- Women Killing it – heaps of success stories from all sorts of industries, from a female perspective.
Living in London I enjoy going to these lectures in person, but it’s great that they record them if you can’t make the time. I would say the audio isn’t always great, so they are best enjoyed in a quiet environment. The topics can also be quite advanced and intellectual, but feature top end academics and guests and are great fun to dip into.
A snapshot of today’s tastes
As someone who is always evolving, I want to see how this list dates. In six months time, what will be cut from the list, and what will be added? I’ve added a reminder to check-in with myself and review.
What about you?
- Are you a podcast fan?
- What do you listen to?
- Do you speed them up?