How do you manage to do your work, keep yourself posted with news, learn new stuff and still be a decent father, husband and friend... among other things?

One of my answers to this has been to maximize my knowledge intake via podcasts and audiobooks whenever I'm alone. My phone says I listened for 7 hours of podcasts in the last 7 days and 2 hours of audiobooks.

In order to swallow even more content, I listen to the content at 1.5x its normal speed. While 2x would probably be OK in French (my native language), I cannot enjoy podcasts in English or German at that speed, it's exhausting.

This post kind of answers to a post written by a former colleague of mine titled "how I find time to learn after work". His post made me look back at my podcast usage and what I listen to. Thanks Markus!

So here's a detailed list of all the podcasts I follow.

France-Inter (French)

This is my daily "news"-fix. I follow the most important "chronicles" from the french morning show le 7-9 of the France-Inter Radio. Those give me a pretty good overview of the daily news, both in a serious and fun way:

  • Géopolitique
  • L'édito politique
  • La revue de presse
  • L'édito éco
  • Le billet de Francois Morel
  • Le billet de Nicole Ferroni
  • Le billet de Sophia Aram
  • Le billet de Charline
  • Le billet d'Audrey Vernon
  • Le billet d'Alex Vizorek
  • Le 7H43
  • Le cabinet de curiosités
  • Le billet de Frederic Beigbeder
  • L'après coup de Bruno Donnet

About half of those show up daily, the others rotate during the week. All except one are 3 min long, so it's quite easy to sqweeze a few while preparing breakfast or washing the dishes.

The road-trip playlist

For when I'm on the move, I created a curated and prioritized playlist of podcasts I like, just to be sure I get the most important/interesting ones first. When I'm biking, driving or even walking for instance, I don't want to have to stop to start/skip the next podcast. The France-Inter playlist is at the top of this "road-trip" playlist and then comes the following:

  • Hanselminutes - Scott Hanselman's interviews about anything & everything IT related. Very diverse set of topics with great guests. Scott is an incredible host, able to deep dive into a topic while reformulating and vulgarizing everything on the fly to keep everyone onboard. Probably the oldest podcast of this list.
  • .NET Rocks! - Don't let the title fool you, it's mostly not about Microsoft, but simply IT related. Carl Franklin & Richard Campbell's show is one of the oldest around (they have over 1400 shows!!!). They also have so called "Geekout" shows where they explore one scientific topic and go pretty damn deep into each topic. This has also been on my list since... ever.
  • 99% Invisible - A quite new podcast on my radar, but a must listen to. The show reports on one special topic that you wouldn't otherwise know about. I particularly remember the episode about the Mississippi River Basin Model used by the US-Army to model flooding until the 70s or the episode about the Williams Shift, a risky strategy invented the 40s to counter "Ted Williams", an incredible baseball batter who was found hitting statistically a lot more on the "right field" than on the left. Highly recommended!
  • StartUp Podcast - Also a new podcast that made its way to the top really fast. Well edited shows about entrepreneurship and startups. In 2016 they made a 7 episodes series on Dov Charney the founder of American Apparel, what led to his expulsion from the company and the birth of his new company. I encourage you to try it, it's very interesting. And if you like the style, the company behind it, Gimlet Media, has a lot more to offer.
  • a16z - Andersen Horrowitz venture capital firm's (thus the Numeronym "a16z") podcast about tech, culture trends, news and the future as "software eats the world". Very insightful discussions at the junction of business and tech.
  • Studio404 (FR) - A very interesting podcast about digital trends and their effects on our society. The hosts are tackling a lot of current topics and speculating about the future and how it could change our societies.
  • The Speaker Lab - A very interesting resource from and for public speakers on how to create and grow your business, about speaking techniques, how to prepare yourself etc.
  • Les Clairvoyants (FR) - A great vulgarization podcast about the Marvel (Cinematic) Universe. The host discuss the news of the universe, speculate a lot about further developments and each podcast shows a deep dive into the background of one superhero or villain.
  • Meta-Cast - A nice discussion between two Agile Coaches Bob Galen and Josh Anderson. I particularly like the mentoring-style of their discussions. It's like two different degrees of lecture for me.

These next four podcasts are still on my list, although there hasn't been an update for a while. But if one should appear (and my sources say it will happen for at least one of them soon) I want to know it right away!

  • Agile in 3 Minutes - Almost philosophical essays by Amitai Schlaier about agility. Great, GREAT podcast. It's been on hold the past year but well worth your time going through the whole archive.
  • This Developer's Life - Excellent podcast from Scott Hanselman and Rob Connery. Very well captured and edited. Well worth digging into the archives as well, even if you are not in the IT space.
  • Agile for Humans - Great discussions about agility from a group of people with great connections and thus with very cool guests.
  • C'est Cool ! C'est Quoi? (FR) - Literally "oh cool, what is this?". What's so cool about live action role play (LARP), craft beer, B-Movies or Cosplay, to name a few? The podcast host assembles a few hardcore fans of a "different" topic and tries really hard to understand what it is and why they love it so much. In this world of bashing and finger pointing we live in, it is very refreshing to see someone try that hard at doing the opposite.

In the last months I somehow managed to keep up with all of the above, cherry picking some of the ".NET Rocks" podcasts and listening to about one audiobook a month at the same time. Some months have been harder than others (especially the ones where I found new podcasts and hat to catch up with the archives) but that' roughly what I can consume per month.

The "when I have time" podcasts

  • Homecoming - A short fiction from Gimmlet Media (see StartUp Podcast here above) about a strange army rehabilitation program called the "Homecoming Initiative". The first season it done. I'm looking forward to the next one.
  • Le Log (FR) - Completely new podcast from the author of Studio404. Monologue (live over Twitch) about one particular topic, for instance "10 years of iPhone". Still in "trial".
  • Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast - Great discussions with Vasco Duarte. I was a guest once on the podcast and have hosted an interview of Vasco himself on his podcast. It used to belong to the Road-Trip category, but I have been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of it (15min/day) and have only cherry picked guests in the last year.
  • The Agile Uprising Podcast - Discussions about agility. I recently discovered it but haven't managed to play catch-up with the archive yet...
  • The Tim Ferriss Show - A great and inspiring podcast that brings insight on the thoughts process of (very) successful individuals. I love the podcast and I wish I could listen to it more regularly, but with up to 4 hours interviews, it is just too much to follow. Cherry Picking only. Sadly.
  • Temporium Radio : Timeline (FR) - A great vulgarisation of history topics. I listened to the whole archive while renovating our flat in 2015.
  • Entreprogrammers Podcast - A gorgeous mentoring discussion between entrepreneurs. I used to listen to all of them and picked up a lot of good ideas on how to create a business, organize your marketing etc. But the podcast is just too long for me to keep up with it anymore. I unfortunately skip most of them.
  • - To satisfy my itch of being prepared when the Zombie Apocalypse hits us. Cherry Picking.
  • Developer's Journey - My very own podcast, just to see that the upload on iTunes works ;-)

That's it. This all keeps my ears full and the knowledge coming. I tend to listen to so many programs, that I enjoy "unplugging" once in a while and not to listen to anything while walking around... but it usually doesn't last long.

And one more thing, taking notes using Siri is pretty much the only use I make of Apple's intelligent personal assistant. If you do listen to podcasts, do have something to take notes or find a way that works for you. You will get much more out of it this way believe me.

And you? How do you keep up? How do you learn in your free time?