Perfect podcasts for your busy day

By Ryan Levi

I love podcasts. Like a lot.

But I have a problem.

Photo by Flickr user Patrick Breitenbach
I love them so much that I want to give them my undivided attention so I don't miss anything. That means that multitasking favorites like reading, working, studying or any other brain-engaging activities are not an option when I listen to podcasts. These restrictions sadly limit the amount time I can spend listening to podcasts so length has become one of the primary factors in determining which podcasts I listen to.

I've divided podcasts into three length categories that help me maximize my precious podcast time.


Length: 20 minutes or shorter
Best bet: Witness
Also great: Planet MoneyThe Lapse
Ideal for: Getting ready in the morning, walk to work, 8 Minute Abs

Short podcasts can often seem like the toughest ones to find, but for the busy podcast listener, they're critical. I am much more likely to find myself with 10-20 free minutes during the course of a day than I am 30 minutes or more so having short, interesting podcasts to choose from is a must. That's what makes Witness so great. Every weekday, the BBC World Service posts 8-12 minute podcasts which describe important moments in history through interviews with people who were there.


Length: 20-40 minutes
Best bet: Love + Radio
Also great: Reply All, Marketplace
Ideal for: Lunch break, daily commute, tasks around the house

You've got a half hour. You don't want to watch a sitcom on Netflix and it's really not enough time to do anything productive. Why not listen to a podcast? Love + Radio has quickly become one of my favorite shows. From PRX's Radiotopia, Love + Radio shares stories that will grab you and not let go. They're powerful, personal and profound. Listen to this and you'll hear what I mean.


Length: 40 minutes or longer
Best bet: Mystery Show
Also good: Radiolab, TED Radio Hour
Ideal for: Road trips, at the gym, lazy Sundays

In my extensive (read: 6 months) podcast experience, I've found these long podcasts to be the most numerous. Which is great...if you regularly have hours to devote to podcasts. Thankfully most of these shows come out once a week at most so you have time to stay caught up. Mystery Show is only three episodes old, and it's already one of my favorites. The third offering from Gimlet Media, Mystery Show finds host Starlee Kine investigating mysteries that can't be solved with Google. It's like Serial but instead of a 15-year-old murder, Kine looks into things like a movie store that disappeared overnight and Britney Spears' reading habits. But more than the mysteries themselves, it's the interactions that Kine has with the people she meets along the way that has me eagerly awaiting the next episode.

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