Why I Listen to Podcasts at 1x Speed

Brent Simmons:

While accomplishing things – or just plain getting our work done – is important, it’s also important that not everything go in that bucket. The life where everything is measured is not really a full life: we need room for the un-measured, the not-obsessed-about, the casual, the fun-for-fun’s sake.

As soon as Overcast launched, I began listening to podcasts using its “Smart Speed” feature. And I really liked it!

But eventually, as podcasting grew, I began listening to more and more shows, and started finding it difficult to keep up with the influx of new episodes.

So I began listening at 1.1x, then 1.2x, then 1.3x – on top of Smart Speed. And everything was fine, even though I didn’t realize that what I was doing – listening to people have prolonged, rushed conversations with unnatural pacing – was seriously hurting my brain.

A few months ago, I listened in to a live recording of Upgrade, and something strange happened. As I listened to Myke and Jason talk about the news of the week, and heard the raw, unedited, natural conversation, I was reminded of something:

These are just people having a conversation over Skype.

There’s something weird that happens when I listen to podcasts sped-up. I loose sight of the human element, and I know how, having switched to pure 1x, that my brain struggles to focus on conversations happening at increased speed.

The downside, as Brent explains in his post, is that it means I end up building up a backlog of shows, and sometimes I simply have to get rid of episodes of my second or third-tier shows, and accept that I don’t have the time in my life to be a podcast completionist.

And that’s okay! Because the number of episodes I listen to has literally no reflection of my “success” as a listener.

Not everything is a job. Podcasts server as either a source of news or entertainment for me, and the proper way to consume them is the way that works best for your brain.