Why You Should Listen to Podcasts (and our 7 favorite ones)

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When every minute of the day is filled with stuff to do, it can be hard to squeeze in time for self-improvement and growth. If you’re yearning for a few extra moments to learn something new and interesting, what about using your time on the go, commuting from one place to another? How, you ask? By listening to podcasts.

Podcasting first came about in the 1980s, and it was relatively popular in the early 2000s. Now, podcasts are going through another revival in popularity – 20% of Americans listen to them once a month. Since Apple added podcasts to the iTunes store, they reported over 1.6 billion subscriptions and 20 billion downloads.

Part of this surge is due to smartphones. Now it’s fast and easy to stream a podcast on your phone, as opposed to downloading one from iTunes and uploading to an iPod. The immense success of Sarah Koenig’s Serial is also a pivotal moment in podcasting history. It’s the first mega-hit in the industry, attracting 2.2 million listeners per episode. There’s potential in podcasts, and people are noticing.

The reason why I’m linking podcasts with productivity is that you can listen to them anywhere. It’s not like a book or blog, where you read and that’s it. You can listen to a podcast while you’re going for a walk, driving to work, grocery shopping, or at the gym. Moments when you’re on the move can be used to learn and listen to something interesting.

These are some of our favorite podcasts – they’re enlightening and cover a broad range of niches, from startups to weird fun facts.

1. Planet Money

A podcast about money might not sound very interesting on the get-go, but trust me, it is. This isn’t like listening to advice from your accountant. NPR’s Planet Money covers absolutely everything about money, finance, and the economy, and they do it in a way that’s interesting and fun to listen to.
Listen here.

2. Radiolab

Radiolab is a little harder to describe. It’s a show about curiosity. They delve into politics, socioeconomics, philosophy, you name it. In a nutshell: fascinating topics, eloquently told.
Listen here.

3. Freakonomics Radio

If you read and enjoyed Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, you’ll love Freakonomics Radio. The podcast is hosted by Dubner and has a similar premise – it uses economics as a lens to explore and explain human behavior.
Listen here.

4. The Tim Ferriss Show

The author of The Four-Hour Work Week now has a podcast. Out of all our suggestions on this list, this podcast is the most directly related to productivity. Ferriss uses examples of success stories and deconstructs the tactics that make them successful. Guest interviews include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Foxx, Tony Robbins, and many more hyper successful people.
Listen here.

5. StartUp

This podcast is all about building a business from the ground up from someone that’s doing it right now. Host Alex Blumberg was the former producer of This American Life and Planet Money, but he left to start his very own digital media company. Blumberg talks about his experiences, from funny pitfalls to unpredicted challenges, on StartUp.
Listen here.

6. 99% Invisible

A podcast about everything you don’t notice, but that makes the world the way it is. Host and creator Roman Mars started this podcast working from his bedroom, but now it’s grown to 80 million downloads. He talks about architecture, infrastructure, design, and much more. And it’s almost entirely funded by Kickstarter campaigns, so you know it’s a crowd favorite.
Listen here.

7. Reply All

On the surface, this podcast is about the internet, but it goes alot deeper than that. Its captivating stories cover broader internet trends, and the little intricate ways the internet affects our everyday lives.
Listen here.

This list only scratches the surface – there are podcasts specific for every niche. If there is a topic that you’re particularly interested in, you can find a podcast about it. Search iTunes and subscribe to get new episodes as they come out. And register with Stitcher, where you can stream on the go, discover new podcasts, and create lists of what you want to listen to.

Did we miss your favorite podcast? Share it in the comments!

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