How to Listen to Podcasts when you don’t have the time
Podcasts are the best way to learn, be informed and absorb information.
I love podcasts.
I still remember the first time I discovered podcasts, It was a tech show by Leo Laporte. TWiT. Their shows took about 2 hours of tech discussion. Everything changed when Dan Benjamin launched his 5by5 network. And the rest as they say is history.
Podcasts ruled my life. For a good period, it would be what I would think about. Everyday and everynight. I would fit in a couple of hours, heck even a couple of minutes.
A podcast would be active in the background.
That’s how much I loved consuming content.
Maybe it was because I was living alone in a foreign country.
The beauty of a podcast is it’s voyeuristic nature. You become a fly on the wall in these conversations. You get insights to the people you admire.
These people eventually became my ‘friends’ Each new episode seemed like a time to catch up and see how they were.
All the shows
Ofcourse, having this as a substitute for the real world is unhealthy. And soon, I realized that I was treating them as my ‘friends’.
Like any abusive relationship, I would subscribe to all the shows even if it meant that I wouldn’t have time to spend on anything other than consume their content.
I became a podcast addict.
Slowly, my feed grew from a couple of podcasts to 10s to then 100s. As of this writing, I used to listen to over 100 shows. I had a cue that would take up a little over 20gb on my phone, and if you knew a podcast’s file size.. 20gb is a lot.
Consuming for Sport
Insane? Yes. I was out of my mind. How do I listen to all of it? I listened to it at 2x speed.
I turned it into a challenge. I wanted to zero out my inbox of these shows, and because of the fear of missing out, new shows would flood my feed everyday.
Slowly, my podcatcher became a source of anxiety.
I stopped listening and started consuming the content.
I realized this only recently when I caught myself scrolling to what seemed like an endless feed of shows some spanning 3 to 4 hours.
I came home, rushed, as if I needed To get this done.
When my daughter was born 3 months ago, it was the best thing that happned to me, (next to my wedding) but because of my urge to get my podcatcher to zero, I would find myself being frustrated when I was ‘disturbed’ while listening to my shows.
The wake up call was this :
When my goal was to get to zero instead of listening for enjoyment,that’s when I realized that I had a problem.
Something had to change. I was spending my time on an arbitrary goal — (to get to zero) when in fact it was a useless goal. It was unattanable because of the shows that I had in my feed.
The only way for me to get out of this loop was to either :
- Have more than 24 hours a day
- Listen to more shows which meant that I spent less time with the people who mattered
- Listened to less shows.
So instead of plowing thru all my backlog episodes, I decided that my family needs me and having a queue of zero is as meaningless as having air for breakfast.
I became ruthless in unsubscribing.
I learned to accept that I will not be able to listen to everything. The decision to curb my habit was not easy, I didn’t want to miss out on anything in the tech world, because after all, I considered myself a geek — and that’s where the problem lie. I associated myself as a type of person who knew everything, but in reality all I was listening to were all directed to tech.
Most of the podcasts in my feed, were redundant. I felt like I had to get thru them just to feel part of the community.
But I wasn’t.
So after I culled more than 50% of all my feeds the remaining 50%, i listened to, 1 by 1. Choosing not to listen to any more new episodes until I go thru the backlog. So yep, FOMO became a thing of the past.
I had. a new mantra, if I hesitated fin listening to 1 particular episode, I would just mark it as listened to. If it wasn’t a hell yeah, then it was a ’no’.
Like music, I would listen to only recommended episodes. The beauty of podcasts is since the archifve is always online, I can always go back and listen to the back catalog if I do so wished.
I chose to accept that it’s ok for me not to like everything published.
It’s ok for me to skip a few episodes (espeically if the notes aren’t compelling enough)
The “in” jokes of most podcasts, are fine, I can live as an outsider, what I really need are the insights, anyway.
I’ve learned to go deep and narrow as shallow and wide. Meaning — if I listened to just 1 show for 1 week, I can get more out of it — gleam themes, and really think about the topics as opposed to listening to a lot of varied content to which they all ended up as noise anyway.
My queue right now is zero. I am more relaxed because now that I know how to listen to podcasts, I can now have time to listen to the things that matter to me. Which are audiobooks, my daughter’s cooing and my wife’s voice.
So it may seem like a trivial thing to you but having seen the end of my feed, meant that I did something right.
I am now calmer, I enjoy podcasts more, and the only voices that are in my head before I go to bed are my wife’s and the cooing of my daughter, and it’s the most beautiful sound in the world.