My Podcast Diet

green sky fallout 4 radio tower

This is a deep dive on podcasts and how I listen to them.

You may have noticed many of the posts over the past year have been podcast reflections. I used to write a lot more in response to articles – and I still do – but there is so much good stuff happening in podcasting and I’ve found it rewarding to listen, reflect, and write on them. Plus, I hate the way that amazing things that are said in a podcast episode might never make it out of that audio bubble. So I like to capture it here, on the page, where I can come back and reference it.

Two things I want to get out there: 1) how I listen to podcasts, and 2) why I post podcast reflections weeks after a podcast release.

So here it goes.

How I Listen to Podcasts

I got into podcasts a long time ago, back when I was a college student and commuting almost four hours a day to and from school. I spent most of that time sitting on buses and trains, and killed the time listening to podcasts. I used the native Apple Podcasts app.

Podcasts then were mostly taped broadcasts from other places – broadcast news, radio, and television, mostly – and repackaged for a podcast audience.

Back then, this meant “downloading” individual episodes to my phone and then listening while riding – since streaming was hit or miss during the commute, plus network speed was slow.

Years later, when I found myself with another long commute via car, I’d listen to podcasts to and from work.

Listening to podcasts has always been a great thing to do – while doing something else – so long as that “something else” is routine and mundane.

I very rarely sit down in a chair and just listen to a podcast. Listening to podcasts is a thing I do that makes other things less boring or seemingly more productive.

Back in 2018, I remember learning that David Petraeus listens to podcasts while working out, which seems awful to me. I always liked to listen to music while working out. Listening to podcasts during exercise seemed somehow both lame and potentially counterproductive – as in it might slow me down or make my workouts less effective.

No way, I thought.

Then, over time, as my commutes grew shorter and my opportunities to listen to podcasts shrunk, I was forced to make the switch.

I’m now a guy who listens to podcasts while exercising.

Well, not while running. For whatever reason, I struggle listening to podcasts or audiobooks while running.

I can listen to podcasts while lifting or doing some kind of cross-training. But running is reserved for music.

When I talk with others who listen to podcasts, they often share the opposite experience. They can listen to podcasts while running, but not while lifting.

So the majority of my podcast listening occurs in the hour or so in the morning while I’m working out. I’ll also listen while getting ready in the morning after exercising.

An hour or so a day, that’s not too bad, right?

Except, as you likely know, many podcasts are over an hour long.

And over the years, I’ve become a dedicated fan of dozens of podcasts.

In any given week, if I’m lucky, I might get through four or five hours of podcasts. And that might get me through a few episodes.

But with episodes releasing daily, and with the constant discovery of new and engaging podcasts, it means I’m always running a backlog.

Which brings me to the second point.

Why I Post Podcast Reflections Weeks After a Release

With a constant backlog of podcasts, I’m just about always listening to old episodes. Occasionally, I’ll bump a podcast to the top of the queue if I’m particularly excited about it.

If I hear something compelling during an episode, I’ll make a note of it (on my phone, I use Things). Later in the week, I’ll review these notes and make a determination as to whether I want to write about them. If I do, I set the time to do it.

Then I write it, edit it, prepare it, schedule it, and post it.

This all takes time, which is why you get the reflection on a month-old podcast.

I don’t know it for a fact, but I always suspect the podcast teams who see these reflections are perplexed (and maybe a little annoyed) that I seem to be writing about an old podcast episode when they just released a new podcast and would rather see feedback on that.

Sorry, this is a hobby.

Lastly, sometime last year I ditched Apple Podcasts for Overcast. Apple re-tooled the user interface and it became exceedingly difficult for me to manage my endless podcast queue. Overcast is simple to use and has all the functionality I want – to include an incredible feature that slightly speeds up podcast episodes by automatically removing “dead air” and pauses. This helps me move through episodes just a little bit quicker without having to turn on 1.25x or 1.5x – which I don’t like to do.

So, how do you listen to podcasts?

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Life Lesson: Have a “Capture Device”

things productivity app screenshot

During our initial inbrief at IBOLC, the battalion commander read off a list of ten things (I think it was ten) that would help us be successful officers in the Army. Some of them were pretty basic, like be in good physical shape and try to get enough sleep. I dutifully copied down the notes, but became particularly interested when he said “Number 8, always have a ‘capture device.'”

I straightened up and craned my neck to listen.

Around the time I was getting out of the Army in 2006 and starting college, I became super-interested in all things “productivity.” I read all the blogs and articles and theories. I created my own monster of a “getting things done” system that I still follow and tweak today (a post for another time).

So when he mentioned something that sounded like it might fall into that realm, I found myself listening intently.

He went on to talk about how good ideas often present themselves at random and inopportune times, and without a “capture device” they will simply disappear.

A capture device can be anything, from a simple pen and pad to an App on your iPhone (I use Things, and to a lesser degree, Evernote).

It is some of the best advice I ever heard, and my feeling is that it was lost on most the young Lieutenants sitting in the room.

Did you ever notice that you’ll often have fantastic ideas while in the shower or during exercise? There’s a bunch of scientific reasons why that happens. When Don Draper is stumped on an idea, he goes to the movies and lets his brain rest.

By the time he leaves, the idea is there waiting for him.

Only in real life, if you don’t have a place to “capture” that idea, you’ll find yourself stopping in your tracks hours later, staring at the floor with an outstretched index finger and scrunched face, trying to remember what it was you wanted to do.

When I get an idea for work, social life, a gift, this blog – anything – I will stop what I’m doing and go to my “capture device,” in this case, my iPhone, and capture it quickly, usually in just a couple of words, and then revisit it later. The idea for this blog post came after I got an idea for another blog post and went to my phone, realizing that it would also be interesting to write about that in the first place!

Those “good ideas” only last a few moments before I forget them, usually because I’m caught up in something I’m enjoying, like watching a movie or exercising. Without capturing them, I am essentially letting them pass, hoping they’ll return at a later time when I’m not so engaged – unlikely, says science.

Over time, I’ve collected lots of great ideas for ‘things,’ most of which amount to nothing, or sit in an ever-growing list of things that I may one day do. Others, though, have been fantastic and led me down paths or allowed me to do things that I never thought I would do. That is why I almost always have my iPhone with me.

It is my capture device.

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