5 Podcasts to Empower Your Productivity

Once upon a time, I couldn’t imagine listening to anything other than music whilst battling the infamously clogged arteries of the Los Angeles freeway system. Then, unexpectedly and belatedly, I joined the cult of the podcast—so I read the following Central Desktop blog article from podcast aficionado Celine Roque with a lot of interest.

Celine singles out five productivity-centric podcasts that won’t merely keep you preoccupied while you’re on the road or on the treadmill, but can spark pivotal changes to your workday. From creative inspiration to workplace psychology, from leadership tips to quick lifehacks, there’s plenty here that will likely relate to your day-to-day.

The following post originally appeared on the Central Desktop blog.

Our workdays are often filled with a lot of unexpected downtime – whether we’re caught in traffic, standing in line, or watching the clock in a waiting room. Sure, we can take that as an opportunity to be bored, but here’s a better idea: we can transform that downtime into an opportunity to learn. This is where podcasts come in. Listening to podcasts – especially those that can help you get better at the work you do – can be a productive use of the times when you find yourself stuck, but your mind is seeking something to work on.

Here are five of my favorites:

#1 – “Back to Work

Calling “Back to Work” a productivity podcast doesn’t do it justice – it’s not about quick lifehacks and doing things more efficiently. Instead, hosts Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann have in-depth discussions on how to really get your creative work done. This means asking fundamental questions like “Do you really care about the thing you’re making?” or “Is your ladder even leaning against the right wall?” or “Is it possible to have 27 priorities?”

Because of this approach, “Back to Work” is best for those who are making transitions in their professional lives, find themselves buried in distractions and busywork, or have trouble starting anything. The show is also very entertaining. Benjamin and Mann’s deep camaraderie always shows through in their discussions peppered with references to comics, music, comedy, and The Big Lebowski.

Recommended episodes:

Similar shows: If you like the talk show format of “Back to Work”, you might be interested in checking out “Home Work,” a productivity talk show for people who telecommute or work from home.

#2 – “You Are Not So Smart

In “You Are Not So Smart,” journalist David McRaney investigates what goes on in our brains and why we act the way we do. Technically speaking, this is a psychology podcast, but that’s exactly what makes it useful for productivity. McRaney helps us unearth the biases, fallacies, and instincts that get in the way of our happiness, health, and our goals.

Recommended episodes:

Similar shows: If you’re interested in psychology and how it changes the way you work and relate with the world around you, you might also want to check out “Invisibilia.”

#3 – “Beyond the To Do List

If you’re curious about how other creatives get their work done, as well as the struggles they face along the way, then you should check out “Beyond the To Do List.” Host Erik Fisher interviews creative artists and entrepreneurs about their work process and what you can learn from them.

Recommended episodes:

Similar shows: If you find that you enjoy listening to the work habits and creative journeys of other people, check out these interview shows: “Systematic,” “The Tim Ferriss Show,” and “Inquisitive.”

#4 – “Defeat the Drama

Kirsten Ross’ “Defeat the Drama” is a podcast made especially for leaders who want to manage the drama of working with a team. She discusses topics like how to build your team’s motivation, how to encourage their success, and how to deal with any problems that come your way.

Recommended episodes:

Similar shows: For those who need tips on leading and managing teams, there’s the “HBR Ideacast” from the Harvard Business Review and Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership podcast.

#5 – “Get-It-Done Guy

If you’re looking for quick tips and short episodes, then listening to “Get-It-Done Guy” is for you. Host Stever Robbins tackles everything from being better at email to building your personal brand – all in a concise, straightforward way. There’s something in his shows for everyone and, with over 300 episodes in the archive, you’re bound to find tips on almost anything you want to improve on.

Recommended episodes:

Similar shows: Productivity blog Lifehacker also has a short, general productivity podcast.

Other ways to learn via audio

While the above podcasts can get you started with auditory learning, there are also other ways for you to use audio learning to your advantage. Services like Podcastomatic can turn blogs, news sites, and your favorite articles into playable audio files. Online courses like those found in Khan Academy and Udemy also have mobile apps so you can play lessons using your mobile devices. Let’s also not forget that apps like iTunes and SoundCloud give you access to more than just music – with a bit of searching, you can find almost all the podcasts, radio shows, and audio books you’d need.

Given all this content and all these tools, the next time you’re commuting or waiting in line won’t feel like drudgery – instead, it will be an opportunity to learn and be entertained at the same time. Who knows, you might even end up looking forward to that long morning commute.

I’m feeling inspired already! Bill Simmons and Dan Savage will have to make room on my Stitcher playlist; it looks like I have some new potential favorites to investigate.

If you have your own personally prized podcasts that are impacting the way you work and collaborate, we’d love to hear about them!

Looking for more insights from the Central Desktop team, as well as experts at AirWatch by VMWare, Frost & Sullivan and more? Download PGi’s latest eBook: The Future of Business Collaboration 2015 Edition.


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