Listening to Podcasts Without Dedicating Any Time for Them

You may think that there’s no possible way you could sit and your computer and listen to a podcast that is 1 hour and 18 minutes long, like the Platt podcast I just recommended. However, I did that today without dedicating any special time to listen to it. Here was my podcast schedule for today:

  • Drive to work in morning, 20 minutes, listen to podcast in the car
  • Drive to gym at lunch, 7 minutes, listen to podcast in the car
  • Run on treadmill , 20 minutes, listen to podcast strapped onto my arm
  • Drive back to work, 7 minutes, listen to podcast in the car
  • Drive home, 20 minutes, listen to podcast in the car
  • Run errands (grocery store, gas, blockbuster), 10 minutes+, listen to podcasts in the car

It all adds up. In one day, I’ve got at least an hour’s dead time that I can listen to podcasts, without altering the routine of my day.

Be sure you have a handy FM transmitter so that you can listen to podcasts while you drive. There really is no better time to listen to podcasts than when you’re driving or exercising. I’ve been using an FM Transmitter from iRiver and have had a good experience with it (meaning, the sound is clear and the volume is good).

iriver fm transmitter

In contrast, I do not recommend the Monster FM transmitter. I had one for about 10 months and the cable inside split or something, then eventually broke. I tried soldering it back together, but was unsuccessful. I had a friend who was a technician give it a try (but I haven’t tested it yet).

monster fm transmitter

The iRiver FM transmitter above works well for many MP3 players. If you have an iPod, I recommend using one of the FM transmitters specifically designed for iPod. Of course they will cost you an extra $10-20 more than the $50 iRiver above. Newer cars often have MP3 jacks built into the stereos.

A few months ago I was corresponding with someone on a listserv about podcasts. He said that podcasts weren’t his thing because he didn’t enjoy sitting at his computer for such a long period of time. Not my thing, he said.

Once you begin to listen to podcasts, you really start noticing how appealing they are. But if you’re trying to listen to podcasts while sitting patiently at your computer, I’m sorry, but unless you have an incredibly disciplined focus and attention span, it will prove to be a frustrating experience. I recommend getting the necessary equipment to go mobile — the FM transmitter and the arm band.

Karen from Denmark explains how she listens to podcasts:

I have piles of books and articles and magazines that cover many of of these topics. They can keep me busy for days and weeks and months. But the time! That’s where these podcasts prove their value to me. I can listen to them during my daily trip to and from work. From the time I go out my front door until I sit down at my desk at work, I can listen to about 25 minutes worth of podcast. If I used the same time period for reading, I could read about 4 minutes on the Metro and 8-10 minutes on the train. I have been known to read on the walk from the train to the office, but that is only possible with easy-to-handle books – and not on a rainy day! The podcasts are a relaxing way to spend my journey.

How do you listen to podcasts?

Madcap FlareAdobe Robohelp

By Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer working for the 41st Parameter in San Jose, California. I'm interested in topics related to technical writing, such as visual communication, API documentation, information architecture, web publishing, JavaScript, front-end design, content strategy, Jekyll, and more. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

  • Pingback: Tom Johnson, Technical Writer, I'd Rather Be Writing, - Part 1()

  • Rhonda

    Like you, I’ve also discovered the joys of listening to podcasts during my daily commute.

    I first started listening to ‘talking books’ on a flight back to Australia from the US last year (I don’t sleep on planes, so being able to listen in the darkness without disturbing anyone else with a reading light was bliss! I got an entire Bill Bryson book ‘read’.)

    Now, I listen whenever I’m in the car or going for a walk – even shopping, though I do take out one ear bud so I can hear people around me and the checkout person.

    I have a Creative Zen Vision, and found a $12 cassette tape adapter in the US which works brilliantly in the car without any special transmitter required. However, I tend to use my ear buds when driving – I can still hear normal traffic sounds, though slightly muted.

    Soon, we’ll be moving some 3.5 hours away from the city and on my forays back to visit with clients I intend catching the train – that’s going to give me at least 7 hours of podcast listening time! 1 hour drive each way to the train, then 2.5 hours each way on the train. Luckily the Creative player I have has about 15 hours of battery life (and yes, I tested that on that long 14 hour flight!)

  • Tom

    Thanks for your comment. I’ve been curious about the Creative Zen Vision because of its ability to support Outlook contacts and calendar. It looks like a cool player.

    Wow, 7 hrs of podcast listening time is a long time. I imagine you have a long list of podcasts you subscribe to. What podcasts are your favorites? I listed the ones I listen to in the left sidebar of, but I’m always looking to add more.

  • Rhonda

    I’m not using the Zen for Outlook contacts etc. as I already had a PDA when I purchased it. So while the PDA continues to perform the things I need it to do, I’ll keep my Outlook stuff on it.

    Most (all?) of the podcasts I listen to are work-related – many are already on your list. Some extras though, include: Paul Boag’s “Boagworld” on web design etc. (; Pamela Slim’s “Escape from Cubicle Nation” on being a self-employed entrepreneur (; the mostly brilliant TED Talks (; and I’ve just started listening to some from Start Up Nation about small business (

    And as soon as STC starts offering the webinars as archived, downloadable, audio files, I’ll be listening to them too! (yes, I believe it’s coming soon…)

  • Rhonda

    Oops! Forgot about the User Experience podcast from fellow Aussie, Gerry Gaffney (

  • Tom

    Thanks for the recommendations, Rhonda. I started listening to the podcast — I like it. I will download podcasts from the others too.

  • Karen

    I was quite surprised when you told me that the response to your questions about how and where people listened to podcasts was – on the computer at their desk. When I am “tied” to my desk, I have a million other things that I need to do. I cannot listen to in-depths discussions while doing my work. That is why I find podcasts so liberating. Perhaps people need an A-HA moment to discover the mobility that podcasts permit. I used to have a long train commute to work. I could read (it was in the “olden days”) for at least 1 hour each day while being transported to and from work. I missed that when I changed jobs. That’s why I was so excited about podcasts. Once again, I could “read” while commuting.
    (PS I listen to, too! Again, the podcast method is great. You schedule a listening time when it suits you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t listen to them regularly. You simply catch up when you have the time.)

  • Pingback: I’d Rather Be Writing » Recommended Podcast: Boagworld > Community Websites, by Paul Boag()

  • Pingback: I’d Rather Be Writing » Answering Reader’s Questions: How To Keep Up with Work/Family Balance, and Which Tools to Use()

  • Pingback: MadCap Software • View topic - Flare Podcast with Doc Guy()