A Weekly Commute in Podcasts

Each day I spend about 30-40 minutes on a bicycle or a bus traveling to work. That adds up to quite a bit of downtime (~3 hours a week). I’m not the kind of person to squeeze every ounce out of productivity, so I would rather use this time to explore my interests. While it’s common to languish with your coworkers about the banality of each of your morning commutes, learning about a little piece of life, the universe, and everything gives me a reason to not only accept, but look forward to my little trips to and from work.

I listen to a wide variety of podcasts and enjoy a high rate of rotation, so I’ve broken up my shows by day and days by category. You by no means have to do the same, but organizing by day is just a convenient way to preserve a good variety instead of just chugging through a small handful. Here’s my weekly breakdown:

# Monday - News/Politics

I like to start the week like a politician with a little brief of global events and politics, so I often go between these two for a short summary of important events and analysis.

  • Worldly - a Vox media production that covers current “worldly” events (with a slight liberal bias)
  • The NPR Politics Podcast - an NPR production with a very involved and politically savvy team

# Tuesday - Lifestyle

There are many practical skills I lack, and since I cook and manage my own finances, these topics have proven very valuable and empowering to learn about.

  • Life Kit - another member of the NPR family, Life Kit goes through all kinds of basic life skills every budding adult should learn, ranging from managing finances to getting better sleep.
  • Burnt Toast - my favorite food podcast from Food52, Burnt Toast is all about food and how to make it not suck.

# Wednesday - Business/Technology

Now that the week is chugging along, I like to get into some trade skills. These are some podcasts that help me (as a software engineer and entrepreneur) learn about things that help me more directly improve in my profession.

  • Command Line Heroes - a lighthearted but very well-produced show from Red Hat and down-to-earth developer Saran Yitbarek talk about open source software’s history and place in modern tech.
  • Hello Monday - this was a surprisingly good find from the team behind LinkedIn on topics around work culture and good habits for success. I think you’re allowed to listen on Wednesdays too, but I’m not sure.

# Thursday - Art/Design

The hump has passed. The week is nearing its twilight. Lets appreciate something beautiful together.

  • 99% Invisible - Roman Mars is the creative mind behind 99% Invisible and the Radiocollective podcast network. Here he hosts his own show about design and architecture that makes you think differently about things you might see every day but never really pay attention to.
  • Song Exploder - this is another gem from Radiotopia that goes into the production of music from the artist. It’s very satisfying after taking apart a song the moment where it all comes back together.

# Friday - Society/Culture

A lot has happened this week. You’ve learned, grown as a person, and now you’re ready to digest some of the things life threw at you. Stories are mirrors reflecting parts of ourselves back to us, so here’s a couple of my favorite storytellers.

  • Hardcore History - probably the longest per-episode show on this list, Hardcore History as of writing this has no competition when it comes to incredibly deep and fun stories from our past from the very spirited mind of Dan Carlyn.
  • Radiolab - this podcast in my mind is the greatest and most compelling piece of journalism I’ve ever known. If you’ve never listened to it, it’s truly a treat.

# Bonus

The commutes are over, but maybe there is still some space in your day where you can get another hit of some sweet podcast sauce. Here’s another few bonus shows I put in for you to get your fix.

  • CLO - Chinese Learn Online, which is the only progressive Chinese podcast I’ve found and quite enjoy their lesson structure.
  • Meditation Oasis - I listen to this almost every day before bed and am knocked out before the first 5 minutes is over.
  • The Model Health Show - host Shawn Stevenson is the best source of fitness and nutritional knowledge I’ve found, and it’s so inspiring I sometimes find myself listening to this podcast even while working out.
  • Annotated - this show is all about books, and while it’s new to my repertoire, it’s proven a fun and valuable way to discover new books and reflect on old ones.

The world of audio content grows every day. I’m just happy to have my small slice of happiness to look forward whenever I get a moment of respite. That being said, I’m always listening for recommendations, so if you have any, be sure to let me know!