So over the past 8 months or so I've really gotten in to listening to podcasts. My favorites, for anyone who's interested, are My Brother My Brother and Me, Build and Analyze, The Talk Show, The Besties, and Stuff You Should Know. I love listening to podcasts while driving. I have between an hour and 90 minutes of commute time per weekday (total, not each way). Unfortunately, the reason I like listening while driving in particular is the same reason that I don't enjoy listening to podcasts in almost any other context.

Listening to podcasts keep my ears entirely occupied and keeps my brain about 40% occupied.

Let me explain what I mean by that. When I'm listening to a podcast, I can't be listening to anything else. I mean, I can obviously, but then I'm not really listening to the podcast. That should be pretty self-explanatory. As for my brain, it's easy to listen to a podcast and absorb the information in it without "focusing" on it. However, if I'm doing something that requires any serious mental capacity, it makes listening to a podcast pointless, because I'm no longer able to listen to what's being said and absorb the information. I should also point out that I find it impossible to read (more than a few words at a time) and focus on a podcast. When I read I'm "listening" to my internal voice and that makes it difficult for my brain to process the external audio as anything more than noise.

The consequence of this is that in most situations, I get extremely bored listening to podcasts. If I'm just sitting down listening to a podcast I get bored from a lack of visual and haptic sitmuli. In other words, I like moving my hands and I like looking at things. Both of those senses are stimulated when I'm reading and when I'm playing video games, and one of them is stimulated when I'm watching TV or movies, but both are idle when listening to podcasts.

That's why listening while driving is so great. Driving requires me to be doing things with my hands, and looking at things, all without requiring serious mental effort. Playing solitaire is actually another great one--I have to use my hands and look at things but not really think about anything or hear anything. Cooking is another good example but I really don't do much of that. Working out is okay, but when I'm working out I prefer to have something exciting or motivating to listen to.

So anyways, those are my thoughts on podcasts. If you have any recommendations for what to do while listening let me know on Twitter.

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AuthorConnor Graham