How I managed to focus, relax and learn — whilst working (the secret of podcasts)

At the beginning of this year, I decided that I needed to be more productive with my time whenever possible. I found that while listening to music at work (whilst coding) helped me unwind, relax and focus — it could sometimes make your brain a bit numb.

I don’t know what got me started, but I’d always wanted to try listening to podcasts, and I saw quite a lot of followers on Twitter tweeting about their recent finds or listens — so I gave them a try.

What I found was that, similar to music, they helped me unwind, relax and stay focused, but I also felt like I was learning at the same time, keeping me a bit more awake. Win-win.

So I opened iTunes, rapidly clicking follow on as many podcasts as I could like I needed to feast on all this knowledge. After a short while, I realised I was late to the party, and now my 20+ subscribed podcasts had an average of around 30+ episodes each, all averaging an hour an episode. That was a lot of listening to catch up on!

This was when I realised I needed to narrow it down and focus on what I wanted to listen to first. So here are my current 2018 listens:

Podcasts indie hackers

Indie Hackers Podcast

Indie Hackers

If, like me, you’re interested in listening to how companies are started from the ground up — this is definitely worth the listen. I came across Indie Hackers podcast after lurking a little bit on their community and listening to Courtland Allen on over 25+ podcasts. I was hooked.

Courtland takes you through many founders stories, why they started, what their issues were (or weren’t), and how many failed startups they’d worked on before they hit it big time (these are the best stories!)

(I also love the way there are transcripts of each podcast, so you can refer back to it without scrubbing back through the episodes!).

Podcasts do good

Do Good Podcast

Do Good

Still in its infancy, Do Good is a podcast that makes you realise they're still is good out there within products and design. Like Indie Hackers, you listen to founders and entrepreneurs stories and get to know the people behind their ventures. The podcast is pretty inspiring in an age where most companies in the public eye are strewn with privacy leaks or how evil they can be — Do Good is the opposite and takes us on a journey of stories that inspire and uplift from homeless charities through to eco-friendly healthy treats.

Do good also is it’s local — which means it’s local accents (the north of England!) and some of the topics feel closer to home, especially with homelessness.

Podcasts commerce minded

Commerce Minded Podcast

Commerce Minded

I’m a big fan of Craft CMS, so when I attended DotAll conference this year in Berlin and listened to a talk by Stephen Callander, it reinforced that his Commerce Minded podcast was definitely a go-to when you work with Craft CMS. But not only that, but it’s also worth listening to if you work with any eCommerce.

The podcast covers the tech side of eCommerce; it also interviews merchants and gets their opinions, tactics and knowledge on how they run a successful online store.

Podcasts charged

Charged Podcast


If you're joining Charged late, then you have a lot of catching up to do. The way I approached this was by just picking out the episodes that I found more interesting. The 3 co-hosts work very well together, and it’s more like an educating-informal-chat on anything internet and tech.

It’s worth keeping a notepad or some form of digital notebook open when listening to this podcast, as I found myself making notes on pretty much every episode I listened to.

In addition to listening to these whilst working, I’ve found myself listening to them in the car, on my bike or when relaxing at home. This definitely helps take in all this knowledge.

You may have noticed that each of these is somehow related to design, product, maker or development — this isn’t a bad thing, but I’d like to come across podcasts that weren’t focused on my profession (and technically my hobby).

Maybe I will give My Favourite Murder and Stuff You Should Know on Spotify a listen to at some point.