If someone plays a podcast in the woods, and no one is there to listen… does it make a sound?

Don’t look at me, I wasn’t there.

I was asked a very good question from a friend supporting my attempts to catalogue these self-investment techniques (or habits? I’m still working on what to call them). The TL;DR background story to this adventure is that the internet is flooded with the “7 Habits of Highly Successful Billionaires” (or 20 habits if the writer was paid per word). If you couldn’t hear me laughing at my own joke, I played on the wording of the best selling 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The habits I am collecting are not specifically in this must read, but most will fall under the 7th habit: sharpen the saw. If you are not familiar with that book, I hope you will add it to your challenge to read more books.

So what was this good question?

I just wrote two articles focusing on the habit of reading books, but in both articles, when I linked to my reading material (Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner), I linked to the audio book! Oops, I did it again?

“I sleep less in order to Facebook more,” said no one ever… but we all do it?

Every hot shot CEO has his attention pulled in many different directions. A top spotter on the successful things billionaires do lists is to optimize and maximize your time and energy. Maximize your time is going to be a frequent subject for a few of the upcoming self investment opportunities I am going to write about, so be sure to follow me at the end of this article to stay in the loop (queue shameless plug). Think about this logically: if you can maximize the time you have, and fill that time with investments that can yield high returns in yourself, wouldn’t you?

On the subject of maximizing your time, I did not anticipate to start with this self-investment tip. I have a draft on the burners that is a well studied, choice reduction challenge that is widely popular amongst the best of silicon valley. However, just to cliff hang you with that, this habit fits as a great segue from my friend’s observation on my previous articles: my link to Freakonomics on audible.com. Disclosure, I am not (yet) a subscriber to audible.com, but I will tell you what I have been doing for a few months, and what you should try doing too!

The intent of my pragmatic approach to these investments in your time and self is that all of these ideas should sound simple. Listen to podcasts? Great! Grab my phone, download any podcast app, and go. Simple, thanks Josh!

If it is that simple for you, fantastic! If you are more like me, I always listened to the radio– my presets are on every possible country station you can find in southwest Ohio. I also do not have a bluetooth enabled car, so forgetting my headphones was another excuse for me to avoid a podcast and scan my presets for my favorite Zac Brown Band song (Hint: Chicken Fried). Since I am only human, when I first started this challenge I dropped the podcast ball a lot on my car trips (only to listen to plenty of radio ads). Maybe you too can relate to my top 5 turn-up-the-radio excuses:

  1. Forgot my headphones, and speaker phone just doesn’t sound as good…
  2. Traffic is bad, I better check the news so I know why (rush hour, dummy)
  3. This is just a 5 minute drive, not worth getting into a podcast right now.
  4. My current subscriptions didn’t release any new podcasts today.
  5. I just don’t feel like listening to a podcast!

No more excuses.

If you are new or never listened to podcasts before, then that list could be you too (but you probably have more self control than I do). Over the last few months that I have been opting to podcast my commutes, I have settled on some favorites that I actually look forward to hearing.

Armed with a solid go-to list, my podcast procrastination levels have dropped to zero.

Now, whenever I get in my car, I am playing a podcast– even when on simple errands like grocery shopping or while cooking in the kitchen. (You will be surprised how many podcasts you can get through while waiting for the microwave.)

The key to success with podcasts is not just finding podcasts that interest you, but subscribing to one or two that have a history of daily updates. That way you will always have new podcasts in your queue. My favorite podcasts right now are:

  1. The Dave Ramsey Show
  2. The Tim Ferriss Show
  3. TED Radio Hour
  4. TEDTalks Business

I will go into depth on some insights gathered from these podcasts in future articles, but there are two relevant aspects to this list I want to share with you. First, the TED Radio Hour covers a variety of TED Talk topics. If you like TED Talks, this is right up your alley. They also combine clips from different TED Talkers, so you’re not listening to just one presenter the whole time. Important aspect number two is that The Dave Ramsey Show is a daily, three hour, financial advice radio show turned podcast. This podcast is broken up into three, ~40 minute chunks that are released every weekday after the radio show airs live. This podcast is crucial for me because it guarantees that I have at least three new podcast episodes to listen to every day.

But what if I don’t like podcasts?

Optimizing your commute by increasing your knowledge through informative podcasts is the goal of this habit (and a mouthful!), but it is definitely not your only option to an optimal commute. Podcasts are just one way to optimize your commute, and only one of many ways that I am going to discuss in the future to maximize your time. If you have other suggestions for the car or your own favorite podcast list, please let me know in the comments!

Additionally, take note that my list of favorite podcasts did not develop overnight. I have removed many subscriptions to podcasts that I thought sounded interesting but in the end did not appeal to me. Finding your favorite podcasts is just a matter of trial and error, but to better your chances of success, I suggest you start where I started: iTunes Top Podcast Charts. If you do not use iTunes or iProducts, Google Play, Amazon, TuneIn, etc all have the same lists; just browse your favorite category.

Be warned! I personally fell into the trap of overwhelming choices, and FOMO. FOMO? Yes, I had a fear of missing out on good podcasts by selecting bad ones, so I initially invested a lot of time reading descriptions of podcasts instead of just subscribing and listening to some. The Top Chart podcasts are in the top charts for a reason: they are popular, and they are good. Just pick one and listen to see if it fits you.

Josh Listens to Podcasts. Copy Josh.

Just like my habit of reading more books, this habit of listening to podcasts on your commute is supposed to be an investment in yourself. If you decide to read books, but you keep reading Goldilocks and Little Read Riding Hood, yes you are reading, but how well are you investing in yourself? When selecting your podcasts, keep in mind that the quality of this investment is only going to yield returns relative to the quality of your podcast. Picking a podcast without substance would be a waste of time.

That said, let us go over my SMART goals for this habit. You can use this as a benchmark to develop your own.

  1. (S)pecific — Listen to podcasts in the car.
  2. (M)easurable — Was my time in the car spent listening to podcasts?
  3. (A)chievable —Yes, I have an iPhone with access to podcasts.
  4. (R)ealistic —I spend a significant amount of time in the car.
  5. (T)ime-Bound — Every day is a new opportunity to achieve this goal!

I hope you will give that a try. In the last few months I have enjoyed investing in my overall knowledge through podcasts. In return for my investment so far, I have had more to talk about with my friends and coworkers other than politics; and I actually just used some insights from Freakonomics in an office conversation just a few hours ago! Talk about immediate results, right?

I encourage you too to take advantage of your commute through podcasts, and would be proud if you followed the rest of my journey as we explore other habits we can apply to our daily lives. To be in the loop for future updates, subscribe here on Medium, or follow along on my instagram, facebook, or twitter.

Josh hearts articles. Copy Josh.

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