Podcasts and the best present since sliced bread to make idle time productive

A few years ago I bought my wife the best present ever. This is not really true because she hardly used it. It was maybe therefore also not the best present for her, but it was the best present for me.


It was a nice pink iPod Nano. If it was for me, I wouldn’t have chosen the pink one. But it was a present for her. She talked about it a few times before and I, like always, didn’t have any ideas what to buy and give. In the end she said she did not really need it but I bought it anyhow. Her idea was maybe to listen to music or so when she was exercising.


I downloaded a few CD’s onto the iPod. Why would you buy new music via iTunes when you have already a hundred CD’s or so that you can listen to as well? I think she used the iPod two or three times. After that it became idle.


In those days I was spending a lot of days on the road, travelling from home to work and back and visiting other offices that were within a few hours driving distance. I was looking for spending that idle time in a productive way. Friends were talking about podcasts and language courses that they downloaded.


One evening I checked out iTunes and start searching it for what was available on it. I was amazed. The amount of free information available in podcasts on iTunes is really mind- boggling and fantastic. Every major university in the world has its educational podcasts. All the prime publishers of newspapers and magazines have their podcasts. And there is much more; way much more. And it is all free and available instantly.


The critical factor now was to find among all those thousands and maybe million of podcasts the right ones for me. The limiting factor became idle time to listen to them. Over time I have added a few and deleted a few from my list.


Currently there are more podcasts for me than I have time. Sometimes I have periods that I catch up and listen to a whole series of podcasts in a row; for example when I do the ironing or have to drive for a longer time. Many of the podcasts I am listening to provide me with new ideas and insights that I note down when finished listening. Or I stop and record my thought in the voice recorder of my mobile phone.


Recently I discovered what others know already for a long time. When I go once or twice a week for a one-hour run (or maybe “jog” is a better description), I have started to listen to podcasts as well. It is really great. On one hand it motivates me to go out for the run since it gives me “idle” time to listen.


On the other hand I feel so productive since I use the same time to both exercise and learn. Just exercising always felt like a trade off; not any more. Now it feels like a very good way to spend my time. Thus I exercise more and learn more.


In a next article I will give you an overview of what I am listening to. I will list the podcasts that I follow most regularly. If you have some idle time that you like to make productive with learning and getting new insights, check out what is available on the free podcasts on iTunes.


Music is great but to use an iPod to just listen to music and not use it for podcasts is to forego one of the best inventions since sliced bread.