I listen to a lot of podcasts. They’re free, fun, informative, and accessible. But the honeymoon might be over. Here’s why:
1. Most podcasts are commentary. They’re an interview with the author, not the book itself. They’re a discussion about an experience, not the experience itself. They’re a step removed from what you actually need most – deliberate engagement with the source material.
2. Most of the commentary lacks substance. On average, I’d say that only 10% of a given podcast contains truly helpful, relevant, and actionable advice. The rest is taking up valuable time and headspace that could be used for better things.
3. The substance you do acquire is easily lost after you’re done listening. If you had to pay 50 bucks an episode I bet you’d be way more inclined to do something with what you just learned. But the fact that podcasts are free, ephemeral, and mere add-ons to your busy life makes them that much easier to forget and take for granted.
Now of course there are exceptions. Not all podcasts are educational. The ones that exist for purposes such as entertainment should be evaluated on a different scale.
But most of my listening is related to business, self-help, spirituality, and health.
I used to think that playing podcasts at 2x speed was a good thing. Now I realize it’s not. The faster I can go, the more I already know. Only the genuinely useful episodes are worthy of 1x speed.
Don’t get me wrong. Podcasts still have a lot to offer. They’re a great discovery tool. They’re useful for expanding your thinking. They can help you find your tribe. And they’re wonderful for multitasking and passing the time.
I’ll keep them on deck, but I’m increasingly moving towards audiobooks, prayer, and reflection instead. Audiobooks take me straight to the idea source. Prayer takes me straight to the life source. And reflection takes me straight to the growth source.
Commentary has its place, but it’s best consumed as a supplement to the text, not a substitute for it. The podcasts you love may be free, but your time is not and your life is short.