Unlock Your Information-Intake Superpower

Jack Moore
Nov 11, 2019 · 3 min read

We all want to improve every day, right?

The mantra of, “I want to be a little better today than I was yesterday” is something I find appealing, but sometimes it can be stressful.

Doing more with our time often seems like a daunting task, but occasionally opportunities present themselves to gather up that low-hanging fruit.

A friend of mine, we’ll call him Mark, and I were sitting down to watch Monday night football a couple of weeks ago. He’s the kind of person who doesn’t do anything halfway. Anything he does, he wants to be the best at. Including reading, as it turned out.

Like every other millennial I know, I want to read more.

My friend had discovered, like me, that audiobooks are a good alternative to actually reading books with my eyes like a caveperson. How, then, did he listen to three books a week, while I struggled to power through one?

“Oh yea, I listen at, like, 3x speed”

I didn’t even realize that this was an option. I’ve often felt guilty when I’ve been unable to get to hear the latest episodes of my favorite podcasts. Radiolab or Pardon My Take, these decisions haunted me daily.

Could it be that I haven’t been listening to my full potential this whole time?

I endeavored to find out. Apple Podcasts lets you listen at up to 2x speed, and so I cranked it up. I became a podcasting superhuman, blowing through the material at twice the speed of my feeble-minded former self. I felt like that Bradley Cooper character from Limitless or a newly-sentient robot reading a book as fast as it can fan through the pages.

I turned to my audiobooks. Listening to “Designing Your Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans at 2.5x speed. I flew through each chapter and took notes in relative hyperspeed.

With my new ability to devour information, I have developed a superpower.

My concern was that I could perhaps be missing some of the information. Perhaps my fast-listening made my mind an informational sieve, letting important facts fly by me as I grasp every third word. I’d never get back the missed info.

Fortunately, my experiment is supported by research. The average podcast runs at around 150 words per minute. The average human can understand 300.

I discovered another benefit, I’ve made a dent in my multitasking habit. “Multitasking,” in my case, translates to “attempting 2 things, but doing neither”. I found that I had to focus on what I was listening to if I wanted to absorb the information. I’ve reclaimed 60 wasted minutes, replacing it instead with focused productivity. It’s free time!

Yes, I’m engaging in the sort of unabashed efficiency-seeking that I generally scoff at. I’ll make my peace with that some other time. For now, though, I’ll enjoy riding the Audiobahn.

Comedy is terrible at 2x speed though. Everything has its price.

Thanks for reading! I’m Jack Moore, and I love writing about productivity hacks like these. Follow me to see more!

The Ascent

Aspire to something greater.

Jack Moore

Written by

A product person looking to figure out all the ways software can improve peoples’ lives

The Ascent

The Ascent is a community of storytellers documenting the journey to a happier and healthier way of living. Join thousands of others making the climb on one of the top publications on Medium.

Jack Moore

Written by

A product person looking to figure out all the ways software can improve peoples’ lives

The Ascent

The Ascent is a community of storytellers documenting the journey to a happier and healthier way of living. Join thousands of others making the climb on one of the top publications on Medium.

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