Better living through podcast listening


Every now and then I post about the various tools I like to use to get organized.  Then a few weeks go by, and I am usually posting about what a mess my house is.  The truth is, the best organizational tools in the world won’t help you unless you use them.  Sticking with the process is the hardest part of getting organized for me.

Unsurprisingly, I was faced with a messy house yesterday and a pile of tasks that had been begging to be done for weeks, and I finally felt I had no choice:  I was going to have to suck it up and just do them.

The thing is, I am the worst self-motivator in the world.  I know I’m so much happier when the day’s meals are planned, the laundry is chugging away in the washing machine, and I’m not tripping over shoes in the entryway, but that’s not enough to get me to put down the laptop and make it happen.  There is, sadly, no magic potion that is going to make me face the mundane tasks I’d prefer to avoid.  Often mind games are my only tool.

Sometimes I succeed by convincing myself that my dear mother-in-law (who was born with a bottle of Windex in one hand and a squeegee in the other) might drop by for tea.  That’s unbelievably motivating when it works, but I couldn’t use that one this week – she’s away on vacation.

There’s no getting away from the fact that the drive to keep with the program (whatever the program may be at the time) has to come from within.  I’m still working on that, but I thought I’d share what I did yesterday and how it helped:

I first broke down my big tasks into smaller, do-able bites, and wrote them down as such.  I have a much easier time looking at a long list of easy tasks, than I do a short list of really big tasks.  Enormous tasks have a “where do I begin?” element about them that often leaves me paralyzed.

Then I picked the task that would deliver the most bang for the least effort, and started there.  A clean living room is a happy-making thing for me.  It’s the room with the front door, so it’s also the place that is the most mortifying if it’s a disaster when unexpected company drops by.  A clean living room allows me to welcome someone into my home and keep them right there so they don’t see what’s lurking in the rest of the house.

Now, here’s the important part.  Telling myself to clean the living room usually doesn’t work (if it did, I wouldn’t have this problem.)  It feels like a big job.  Telling myself to clean the living room for 15 minutes, is another story.  That I can do.  And to make it a more interesting 15 minutes, there should be something for my brain to do while my body is wiping fingerprints off of glass tables.  Enter podcasts.

I have a selection of podcasts that I enjoy.  I subscribe to their feeds, and I download any episode that I think I may want to listen to at some point.  My podcasts folder is quite full at this point, and it runs the gamut from 5-minute music reviews to 2-hour interviews.  Yesterday, I picked out a 20-minute Craftypod, and told myself to clean the living room for as long as the podcast was playing.  At the end of 20 minutes, I had learned a little something about Craft Leftovers, and had a nice-looking room that was no longer an embarassment.

Better yet, I found motivation.

I used more podcasts to get me through cleaning the kitchen, starting the crock pot, and tackling the daunting task of digging through my wardrobe for donate-able things I no longer wear (I generated 2 big garbage bags full and got to see the top of my dresser for the first time in a year!).

There are more things on my list today, and luckily I am still in the right frame of mind to get them done.

If you’re feeling stuck like me, might I suggest picking a task, a time limit, and a podcast long enough to fill that time nicely?  You hardly realize you’re doing mindless work, when you’re listening to something interesting.

Here are the podcasts that are currently on my must-listen list.  Some of them I only listen to certain parts, and others I may skip whole episodes whose descriptions don’t grab me, but even with that, there’s still plenty to listen to.

If any of you can suggest more great listening, I’m all ears!

P.S. I also recommend Pandora, if you’re in a musical mood.

17 thoughts on “Better living through podcast listening

  1. Yes listening to pod casts is a wonderful tool for those forced to perform unpleasant tasks such as housework. At the moment, I am preparing for the carpet cleaners by removing all debris from various spots in the house. This task has taken me several days and the work is less of a burden when the pod cast follows me from room to room.

    By the way, how does a reluctant cleaner with two young boys and many interests own white sofas? I image many messing hands touch that fabric.


    • Mainly I think it’s just luck! I also think that if I compared the couch now to the way it looked in 1998 when we bought it, we’d see that “white” is relative 😀

  2. I love the Moth podcast and This American Life podcast. I play them along with the News From Lake Wobegone on my walk. Thank for the great reat tip for more pain-free cleaning!

    • That’s quite an endorsement, LOL! Definitely I’ll check that one out.

      Craftypod is the perfect length for simple supper prep, or for talking myself into tackling little jobs I’d rather not do, so I tend to stockpile them for just that reason. Next on my list, the episode about taxes.

  3. Great idea on the podcasts. I love it and plan to use it. The Moth and This American Life are also my favorites. The Moth averages about 15 minutes each one so that is perfect for your plan.

  4. I have to add my two cents for ‘This American Life’! I now listen to podcasts exclusively on my walks, it makes it so much easier for me than music (for some reason). I never thought to stream them from my laptop while cleaning or organizing (mainly because I usually use the iPod for all listening related activities) so thanks for that suggestion!

    Also, a new podcast I’m enjoying is ‘Grammar Girl’ – it’s all about the proper use of words and grammar – go figure.

    • I’ve always listened to podcasts that way – I was pretty late to get onto the mp3-player bandwagon. I have to check out Grammar Girl – it sounds right up this brainiac’s alley, LOL!

  5. 15 minutes, little tasks… youre talking about babysteps and the Flylady, right? so why did you not mention her?

    I love the idea of listening to something in the background.

    • No, I’m not really talking about the Flylady (although I know she’s about the 15-minute thing, too). These are just little coping mechanisms I have found that work for me

  6. Pingback: Polka Dot Cottage: I wish I loved to clean

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