I’m one of those really annoying people who actually enjoys folding laundry. There’s something so relaxing about methodically going through a big heaping mess and coming out on the other side with a nice, neat little pile—especially when there are no little people around to manhandle my stacks (ironing? Not so much. There is nothing relaxing about something that brings you one false move from a third degree burn. Thanks, but no thanks).
Since I’m a master procrastinator, I usually have a lot of folding to do at once. Lately, I’ve been turning to my pal Alexa and listening to podcasts while I make my way through a couple of heaping laundry baskets. I’ve found a few solid half or less shows that are perfect for listening to while doing mindless tasks like laundry (see also: food prep, cleaning the bathroom, and yard work).
I won’t lie to you. I’ve even started thinking of my podcast time as a little treat… which almost makes me want to find more mindless little chores to do so I can listen to something else. Almost.
Awesome 30 Minute Podcasts
If you love a good true crime story, you absolutely have to add Criminal to your To Be Listened To list. The episodes generally hover around thirty minutes long and they suck you in completely.
Criminal is a podcast that centers around crime. Sometimes the story is about someone who committed a crime. Sometimes it’s about someone who was the victim of a crime. And other times, the line is so blurry it’s hard to tell. No matter what, Phoebe Judge (the podcast’s host) remains even and impartial and she delves into the details from all sides as best as she can. It’s really, really interesting.
Episodes I love include: Jolly Jane, Mother’s Little Helper, The Portrait, Brownie Lady.
Normally, if someone said the words “economics podcast,” my eyes would immediately glaze over in boredom. But Planet Money isn’t boring. It’s actually really, really interesting and makes economics seem more interesting too.
The brilliance of this podcast is that they take a topic that seems so cold and impersonal and they dive into the human aspects of it: how the particular subject effects people’s lives, the bonkers way it came to be in the first place, and more. It’s really good storytelling that makes you think twice about how economic decisions can affect all aspects of our lives.
Episodes I love include: Eagles vs. Chickens, Finding the Fake-News King, Russian Cowboys, A Trunk Full of Truffles, Self Checkout.
How I Built This
I am a sucker for nice, solid success story and this podcast delivers just that. The host, Guy Raz, interviews a different entrepreneur each week and tracks how they built a successful business from the ground up.
How I Built This tells the story behind the successes, failures and serendipitous events that shaped some of the most well-known companies and brands on the planet.
It’s always interesting to get a behind the scenes glance and I especially love listening to the stories of people who persisted and continued to go after their dream even when everyone in their life thought they were insane.
For more business-y podcasts, check out my post on Podcasts for Creative Entrepreneurs.
Episodes I love include: Spanx, Zumba, Instagram, Angie’s List, Dry Bar.
Missing Richard Simmons
In case you can’t tell, I really enjoy solid storytelling. If a podcast digs beneath the surface and finds a way to get to the raw humanity that lives there, I’m pretty much sold. Missing Richard Simmons is on that list.
Aimed at uncovering why Richard Simmons suddenly vanished from the public eye and cut off his closest friends, this podcast does so much more. Hosted and created by a friend of Richard’s who hasn’t spoken to him since he vanished, Missing Richard Simmons gives listeners a much more well-rounded look at Richard than the version of him we’ve seen in the media. It’s a fascinating character study.
This podcast is a series and only 6 episodes long. My least favorite episode is the last one.
Happier with Gretchen Rubin
This podcast is less storytelling and more personal improvement. In Happier with Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project and her sister get really personal talking about happiness and good habits. They share really practical, not at all intimidating advice—and even talk to listeners about how they have stumbled through some of it themselves.
One of my favorite parts of this podcast is listening to Gretchen talk about the four different tendencies that most people fall under and how to understand a person’s way of thinking (your own included) and work with them instead of against them for the best results. It’s fascinating.
I’m really behind on this one, but some of the episodes I love include: Stop Reading That Book!, The Awful Habit of Awfulizing, Stop Apologizing.
Wait! There’s More…
There are also a couple of other 30-minute podcasts that I have dabbled in recently that have piqued my interest:
- Science Vs: a scientific look at trends and fads to understand what’s real and what’s not. Host Wendy Zukerman tackles subjects like meditation, organic food, attachment parenting and fracking.
- Reply All: a super interesting narrative look at technology. So far, this one seems like the tech equivalent of Planet Money: heavy on storytelling with interesting plots and characters.
- Death, Sex and Money: a deep dive into personal subjects that people don’t generally like to talk about.