It sounds counter-intuitive, but to be more productive, you have to take breaks. Occupying your mind with something other than work lets you bounce back with fresh ideas and renewed energy.
Ideally, of course, that would mean taking a vacation. But when you don’t have a getaway scheduled on the calendar, sometimes a mental vacation will have to do. Podcasts can fit the bill, letting part of your mind daydream while the rest works on hitting those deadlines.
If you need a break from the 9-to-5 grind — or just something to occupy your brain while you do busywork — these podcasts are for you.
1. For the Music Nerd
When you’re into music, but you really want to know the story behind your favorite tunes, Song Exploder is the podcast for you. Artists talk about how their songs came about, the songwriting process and how they cultivate their creativity.
If you want insights into how an idea becomes a best-selling ballad, then give this one a listen. It might remind you of how randomly inspiration strikes … and how much hard work it takes to transform it into results.
2. For the Plant Lover
Organic farmer or organic-food eater, you’ll get a dose of education from this weekly podcast called You Bet Your Garden from WHYY-FM in Philadelphia. Get answers to problems that might be plaguing your garden patch. Plus, learn tips on projects big and small, from a worm farm to a terrarium.
How can a gardening podcast help you at work? Well, you’ll learn about the implications your actions have directly (or indirectly) on everyday things, just like how chemicals can flow downstream.
3. For the Movie Buff
Bad movies can be a great guilty pleasure, but How Did This Get Made? explores how the worst films out there go from idea to big screen. From Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to Blues Brothers: 2000, you’ll laugh and groan with the expert guidance of Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas. Along with plenty of their funny friends, the hosts watch horrible films for your entertainment.
This podcast can help you in the boardroom when bad ideas get floated. You can try to learn something about heading off disaster at the beginning, instead of when the credits are rolling on your job!
4. For the Dog Lover
Can I Pet Your Dog? If you’re tempted to ask this every time you see a furry friend, then you should definitely tune in Tuesdays for this highly enjoyable bit of dog nerd fun. There’s nothing like exploring the attributes of a breed in the “Mutt Minute” or taking a swing at giving a name to a dog described only in their fluffiest attributes. It’s a barking good time!
So how does your dog obsession help you at work? Well, being open to learning about the benefits of a new breed makes you a little less apt to judge a book by its cover (or a new coworker by how they look or act upon first introduction). Remember: They’re all good dogs, Brent.
5. For Bookworms
If you’re into books, reading and learning about authors in a fun environment, then step into a time machine with Paul F. Thompkins in the (sadly) archived The Dead Authors Podcast with 50 episodes to enjoy.
Thompkins brings “authors” up on stage for a live show with the Upright Citizens Brigade crew and a lively audience to boot. Explore the works of writers ranging from Hunter S. Thompson to Plato! Not only are you learning a bit of literary history, you’re also getting a chance to ask them something you want to know, even though they’re long gone.
How would you use this power on a coworker or boss who’s already left? Or if you had a panel of coworkers from a past job? Don’t live with regrets over lost opportunities. “Ask” your questions and get some amazing answers.
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK
What podcasts are you really into right now? Leave your tip in a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.