Today I did something crazy. I replaced watching TV with listening to podcasts and I’m completely hooked. Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t go cold turkey on television, but I can already tell that the results in my life are going to be profound. Here’s what happened.
Every “normal” weekday I exercise in the morning. And for the past couple of years I’ve watched Netflix or Youtube or even the odd movie here or there while I’m on the treadmill for half an hour. I did this because it was a great way to 1.) pass the time and make exercise feel like less of a drag and 2.) catch up on my favorite shows because the rest of my day is absolutely SLAMMED and there’s no time for anything.
Here’s the thing: watching TV was a huge waste of my time. Yes it’s true that there is a place for entertainment, but at this point in my life my time is too important to zone out on autopilot. I want to fill every moment with something important. And although it can feel important at times (I don’t want to miss that episode!), TV is really the least important thing in life. Most of it is completely made up and the rest — the stuff that’s informational — can be digested in alternate ways (i.e. apps).
So today I replaced my exercise TV block with a podcast. Specifically, I listened to Startup School Radio hosted by Y Combinator Partner Aaron Harris. And guess what? The time flew by faster than when watching TV — I didn’t want it to end. If you’re into startups this is a must-subscribe.
The important shift that occurred by tweaking this part of my morning routine is that I learned something today. I wasn’t merely entertained but I added knowledge to my life. And it was easy. And, as it turns out, entertaining. And since there was no screen to stare at I’m sure my mind and imagination were far more engaged. I didn’t just stare; I thought. And I liked it so much I’m going to do this every day from now on.
And here’s the kicker: for the half and hour I’m on the treadmill and the subsequent half an hour or so I’m in the shower, brushing my teeth and finishing up my “getting ready” morning routine, I can absorb a lot of information. That’s nearly an hour a day spent learning useful stuff. Times that by 20 weekdays per month and that’s approximately 240 hours of free education a year that I’ll have packed into my brain.
Of course we all have different daily routines. I’ll still watch the odd episode here or there as the day winds down. But think about where you can fit a daily podcast into your life and make it happen. Audio may seem more boring than video but give it a try: you might be really, really surprised.
For me there’s plenty of information to keep my brain occupied out there. Aside from Startup School Radio here are some other podcasts I LOVE (some of the best podcasts I’ve come across): the Slack Variety Pack, Product Hunt Radio, The Distance (all startup and business related) as well as Upvoted (from Reddit), Intelligence Squared (debates), the TED Radio Hour, The Art of Manliness, 99% Invisible, Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin, Just Thinking (by Ravi Zacharias) and — when I’m in the mood for something fun — Ear Biscuits from Rhett and Link.
Since you’re tastes will inevitably differ from mine, you should check out the list I wrote last week on how to discover the best new podcasts. It’s really not hard to find a great podcast that you’ll want to devour.
And if you’re looking for a great podcast app you can give Pocket Casts a try: it’s the best podcast app in my opinion. It’s my favorite because of the clean and easy to use interface (and the podcast recommendations are excellent as well).
Once you give this life hack a try, come back here and let me know what you think!