My Essential Podcast List

Ever since I read the book Essentialism, I have been engaged in “the disciplined pursuit of less”. As the book’s author, Greg McKeown, explains in this interview with Michael Hyatt and Michele Cushatt, the main point of the book is not simply saying “no” to things. It is, rather, saying “yes” to only the right things. Take podcasts, for instance…

I Need My 20 Hours Back!

I decided it was time to “essentialize” my podcast list. To pare down the list of podcasts to only the right podcasts for me, in this particular season of life and business. It turns out that list is shockingly smaller than I thought.

This was harder than I thought it would be, but once I analyzed my listening history, it was obvious it had to be done. I have, up until now, been listening to upwards of 20 hours worth of podcasts per week! Now, before you ask how I possibly could find the time to do that, you must understand that I listen to every podcast at 2X speed. This turns my 20 hours of podcasts into 10 hours per week.

Even so, I found myself half listening to many of them while doing something else: running errands (which I am giving up, thanks to this book… but that will be a different blog post), washing dishes, exercising, etc. I also noticed I was taking a somewhat frenetic, “must listen to everything” approach. That’s definitely not the Essentialist Way.

The time had come to cull the list, and listen to only the podcasts that are essential for me.

How I Trimmed My Podcast List

I started by evaluating which podcasts I felt were absolute “must-listens” for me (your list will undoubtedly be different), and how much time I actually want to devote to podcast listening. The unique challenge is face is that I am friends with a great many podcasters, and I’m very ware that they might be hurt to learn I no longer listen to every episode they publish. This is the “disciplined” part of pursuing and Essentialist Lifestyle.

I came up with the following solution: I have set aside 6 real-time hours for podcast listening each week. If I continue to listen to these shows at accelerated speeds, which I plan to do, that means I can expect to consume 12 hours or more of content per week.

Of that 6 hours of actual listening time, I am only filling 5 hours with “essential” shows that I will not miss (that’s 10 hours of actual content, because I’m listening at double-speed). What about the extra 2 real-time hours? I’m leaving that open so that I can swap other shows in and out on an as-needed or as-wanted basis. For instance, there may be an interview or special content on a show that I want to hear, so that week I will cycle that show into my listening time. I do not plan to fill this “extra” time every week – only when it is “essential”.

You’ve probably realized by now that all this means I have cut my listening by half. Which shows did I keep, deeming them essential? Here's my list (your mileage may vary!):

Ray’s Essential Podcast Subscription List

That’s 676 minutes of content, or 11.27 hours.

I listen at 2X speed, so that is about 5.5 hours of actual listening time. When you take into account that some of these shows don’t publish every week, I have about 5 hours of podcast listening each week.

It doesn’t always work out this neatly, of course. Sometimes shows run long, or short… and I also do occasionally skip an episode in some cases (if the content is not particularly appealing to me that week, for instance).

What of the other podcasts – the ones that I enjoy and recommend wholeheartedly, but which did not make my “essential” list? As I mentioned earlier, I cycle these in and out of my playlist when possible or appropriate. They are every bit as good as those above, but I can't listen to everything every week… and neither can you.

Ray’s Recommended Podcast List

There are a couple of well-known podcasts that I occasionally listen to, but because of their insistence on using profanity as a regular part of their show, I cannot recommend them to my readers. If you use profanity in your public communications, you probably should stop doing that, if only for business reasons. For more on the “reasons why” using profanity in your podcast is a bad business idea, I recommend you listen to “The Danger In Dirty Words”, by my friends Stu McLaren and Michael Hyatt. You might also read “5 Reasons Why Cussing Is Costing You Cash”, by yours truly.

Okay, I've shared my essential podcasts with you. Your turn. What podcasts are on your “essential” list? Post them below in the comments, please!

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at