How I managed to focus, relax and learn — whilst working (the secret of podcasts)

Dec 10, 2018 · 5 min read

At the beginning of this year, I decided that I needed to be more productive with my time whenever possible. I found that while listening to music at work (whilst coding) helped me unwind, relax and focus — it could sometimes make your brain a bit numb.

I don’t know what got me started, but I’d always wanted to try listening to podcasts, and I saw quite a lot of followers on Twitter, tweeting about their recent finds or listens — so I gave them a try.

What I found was that similar to music, they helped me unwind, relax and stay focused, but I also felt like I was learning at the same time, keeping me a bit more awake. Win win.

So I opened iTunes, rapidly clicking follow on as many podcasts as I could, like I needed to feast on all this knowledge. After a short while I realised I was late to the party, and now my 20+ subscribed podcasts had an average of around 30+ episodes each, all averaging an hour an episode. That was a lot of listening to catch up on!

This is when I realised, I needed to narrow it down and focus on what I wanted to listen to first. So here are my current 2018 listens:

Indie Hackers

If like me, you’re interested in listening to how companies are started from the ground up — this is definitely worth the listen. I came across Indie Hackers podcast after lurking a little bit on their community and after listening to Courtland Allen on over 25+ podcasts. I was hooked.

Courtland takes you through many founders stories, why they started, what their issues were (or weren’t) and how many failed startups they’d worked on before they hit it big time (these are the best stories!)

(I also love the way there are transcripts of each podcast so you can refer back to it without scrubbing back through the episodes!).


Having an agency is fun and it’s fine and you make good money and the lifestyle is pretty chill but you’re still dealing with clients and we’re pretty good about firing annoying clients. But even any client is somebody that you’re still like taking orders from and also as a necessary function of the business, you must be making them more money than they are paying you right. Or else they would fire you, so there’s some projects where we see like, okay, we’re obviously making tons of money for this person through our expertise we should just be building our own projects.

#65 — From Blogging to Growing an Agency to $85,000 a Month with Nat Eliason of Growth Machine.

Do Good

Still in it’s infancy, Do Good is a podcast that makes you realise there still is good out there within products and design. Similar to Indie Hackers, you listen to founders and entrepreneurs stories and get to know the people behind their ventures. The podcast is pretty inspiring in an age where most companies in the public eye are strewn with privacy leaks, or how evil they can be — Do Good is the opposite, and takes us on a journey of stories that inspire and uplift from homelessness charities through to eco friendly healthy treats.

Whats good also is it’s local — which means it’s local accents (the north of England!) and some of the topics feel closer to home, especially with homelessness.


Something thats run through a lot of the interviews that I’ve been doing, is that it seems there is a real purpose in what people are doing, it’s actually that deeper meaning, that call to be of service in some way that actually gives you the motivation and fuels your passion to keep doing what your doing.

#5 — Stephen Yip — KIND.

Commerce Minded

I’m a big fan of Craft CMS, so when I attended DotAll conference this year in Berlin, and listened to a talk by Stephen Callander, it reinforced that his podcast was definitely a go to when you work with Craft CMS. But not only that, it’s also worth listening to if you work with any kind of eCommerce.

Whilst the podcast covers the tech side of eCommerce, it also interviews merchants and gets their opinions, tactics and knowledge on how they run a successful online store.


The funny thing about not just web development, but I would just say web development especially is that everyone is standing on someone else’s shoulders, because I think the expression is standing on the shoulders of giants. There isn’t a single thing I’ve done that I haven’t been google searching, and reading and researching and seeing what other people have done to try and make it work.

#3 — How Andrew Welch Became an Expert Craft Developer and the Value of Teaching Others.


If your joining Charged late, then you have a lot of catching up to do. The way I approached this was by just picking out the episodes that I found more interesting. The 3 co-hosts work very well together and it’s more like an educating-informal-chat on anything internet and tech.

It’s worth keeping a notepad or some form of digital notebook open when listening to this podcast, as I found myself making notes on pretty much every episode I listened to.


I’m a person who writes like a doctor or a two year old, depending who you ask, I can’t read it let alone anyone else, but, I will say writing down has this weird effect on me where I just remember it, where as if I type it in to a computer its just gone… …But with the bullet journal I just write everything and it really helps.

#63 — Workflows, and how we Get Stuff Done.

In addition to I listening to these whilst working, I’ve found myself listening to them in the car, on my bike or when relaxing at home. This definitely helps take in all this knowledge.

You may have noticed that each one of these is somehow related to design, product, maker or development — this isn’t a bad thing, but I’d like to come across podcasts that weren’t focussed on my profession (and technically my hobby).

Maybe I will give My Favourite Murder and Stuff You Should Know on Spotify a listen to at some point.

Jason Mayo

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Digital Developer⚡️Maker 🎉 Co-Founder @MadeByShape 📱🖥 Cyclist 🚴🏼

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