Reclaiming Lost Time with Podcasts

Podcasts are a sneaky, underrated way to learn things during time that you might be otherwise wasting.

I drive 30 minutes to and from the office every day. That adds up to 5 hours a week of listening time for podcasts or audiobooks. My phone automatically downloads new episodes and I use an adapter to play them over Bluetooth in my car speakers. This has totally replaced the radio for me — I’ve basically curated my own NPR station of topics I’m interested in.

I also know friends that listen to podcasts while exercising, doing the dishes, or folding laundry. It’s never been easier to multitask during mundane work; you can put on wireless earbuds or play podcasts on an Amazon Echo.

How to start:

  • Download a podcast app on your phone (or use a built-in one)
  • Subscribe to some podcasts (see below for a starter pack)
  • Pick when you are going to listen (commute, chores, etc)
  • Give it a try for a month and see if it works for you

Here’s a starter pack of podcasts to check out (I’ve personally listened to all of these shows and only picked the best ones):

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots
If SEP made a podcast, it would probably be very much like this one. “Giant Robots” is a podcast by thoughtbot — a Boston-based software consultancy that has a lot of values that overlap with SEP. I would start at the beginning of the show and work your way up to the newer episodes. The podcast has changed format and focus over the years, but every iteration has taught me something relevant to our work at SEP — not just development, but how to work with clients, how to incorporate design and product thinking, and the business of running of software company.

 

 

Rework

This is a podcast by Basecamp — the outspoken “small giant” that has a lot of strong opinions about building software products and how to run a company. As one of the earliest success stories in SaaS, they’ve managed to stay small and focused on doing their best work. This podcast has great production value and gives you a behind the scenes look at how Basecamp and other companies work. It’s a gateway drug for industry thought leaders like Jason FriedDavid Heinemeier Hansson, and Ryan Singer.

 

The Changelog
For this podcast, I would start with the latest episodes and dig back through the archives if you’re interested in a specific topic. This is a wide-ranging show that covers open source software projects and tools of all kinds. Just to give an example of the breadth of ideas you’ll be exposed to, here are the most recent episodes: AWS and cloud-enabled apps, Gatsby.js, Practical AI, programmable infrastructure, Computer Science without a computer, 20 years of Curl.

“None of these shows sound interesting to me…”
No worries, there is no niche small enough to not have a podcast (or three). If you have a specific interest, there is 100% guaranteed to be several podcasts on the topic, ranging from panel discussions to interviews with community members to two grumpy people complaining about it to each other.

This month, give podcasting a try if you’ve never done it. You might just find a secret way to reclaim some of your down time and learn a thing or two.