Since starting our podcast we’ve heard a lot of variations of: “I’d love to listen to podcasts, but I just don’t have time!” 

We feel you

In this post, we’re going to share five free and easy podcast-listening tips to help you get more from those earbuds in less time.

But first, a little bit more information on what inspired this post. When we moved from New York to Asheville, we found that we started to have a lot less time to listen to podcasts. It sounds counterintuitive, we know, but the fact was that we did much of our podcast listening and reading on subway rides during our 30-minute commute between Brooklyn and Manhattan. This gave us one WHOLE hour every day of pure podcast pleasure!

Now that we live in Asheville and work from home, we don’t have that daily downtime like before. We’re grateful that we don’t have to commute anymore, but we also miss that 30-minute window to get in an episode (or two!).

We still love listening to podcasts (we have our own podcast channel and are always on the lookout for inspiration)! So rather than just give up listening to them all together, we’ve discovered quicker, more time-efficient ways to consume the content. 

And thus, we’re here to share with you today our favorite tips for listening to podcasts faster and smarter!

5 Tips for Listening to Podcasts More Effectively

1. Listen to a podcast at 1.5x or 2x speed.

Did you know that you can change the playback speed on podcasts? This is a great way to condense an hour-long podcast into a 30-minute snippet. And while you might be wondering if it changes everyone’s voices into Alvin-and-the-Chipmunk-sounding ones, the answer is typically no. The audio will play faster, but it should maintain the speaker’s voice at a normal pitch and tone.

Here’s how it’s done.

  1. Open up the Apple Podcast app. (Note: This process is more or less the same for Spotify.)
  2. Click “Play” on the podcast you want to listen to.
  3. At the bottom of the screen, tap the podcast player to make the controls full screen.
how to change podcast speed in apple podcasts app

4. In the bottom left corner, you’ll see “1x”. Tap it and adjust to the speed you prefer.

That’s it! We personally prefer 1.5x speed but you can go up to 2x.

2. Listen while doing tasks that don’t require your full focus.

Put on a podcast while you drive, go for a walk, stand in a long line, or wait for an appointment. Other great podcast-listening tasks include cleaning your apartment, painting, or enjoying a glass of wine. And, instead of watching another episode of Game of Thrones or The Office, put on a podcast! If it’s late at night, this is especially beneficial. Rather than looking at a screen (which is proven to mess with our ability to fall asleep), all you have to do is listen while still getting to enjoy some entertainment before bed.

3. Make a playlist and save it for later.

Every time you see a podcast that seems appealing, download it ahead of time while on WiFi and save it to a playlist. Then, the next time you go on a long road trip or have a long plane ride, you’ll have something to keep those earbuds happy.

4. Read the show notes, then skim and skip as needed.

If you’re not sure if you’re going to like a podcast episode, start by skimming the show notes. If it still seems interesting, start listening. Skip ahead if some parts aren’t catching your attention until you get to a section that you’re enjoying. This works particularly well for conversational podcasts that don’t have a defined storyline.

5. Listen with a third-party podcast player.

There are some absolutely fantastic third-party (meaning not Google Podcasts or Apple Podcasts) podcast apps. We both listen on Spotify regularly for well-produced NPR quality podcasts. But Tony swears by the Overcast App for long-form interviews. Overcast gives you incredible control over the exact speed you choose to listen (sometimes 1.5x speed is a little slow and 2x speed is too fast). It also has the ability to shorten just the longer pauses between speech.

Bonus Idea: Stop listening to it if it’s not interesting!

Let’s be real — just because you enjoyed the episode before or just because everyone is listening to a podcast, doesn’t mean it’s for you. Give a podcast 5 to 10 minutes, and if it doesn’t have you hooked, STOP. Maybe you’ll come back to it later when you’re in the right mood, maybe you won’t. That’s okay. There’s no point in torturing yourself through the entire episode if you’re not enjoying it.

So that’s our top five tips for making the most of a podcast. What did you think? Do you have any other tips or tricks? Let us know on Instagram.