As someone who works in manufacturing, I’m often doing things in the shop. Because I’m working with machinery, I’m often wearing hearing protection. I’m also doing something that doesn’t require me to listen intently to what’s going on. I find this an ideal time to put in some earbuds, put the over-the-ear hearing protection on, and turn on my portable music player. If you work in an office setting where you don’t have to answer phones regularly, you might also find it engaging to listen to something other than the noise of the office while working.
Listen to literature – audiobooks
Think about how long you might spend reading a printed book. Now think about how much time you spend at work listening to background noise. Imagine spending that time taking a trip to Hogwart’s instead. Or, if you’re like me, learning about some topic that interests you. Maybe you’re a history buff and would like to explore the US Civil War. Maybe you’re a politico and would enjoy a presidential biography. Me? I like numbers. I’ve “read” titles like
Freakanomics, Fooled by Randomness, and Outliers while working. It’s amazing how much faster a mundane day of building something goes when you’re mentally stimulated.
Listen to a topical piece – podcasts
If you’re not familiar with podcasts, think of it as a broadcast you listen to on an iPod. Most podcasts are similar to radio shows, in that they have a broadcast schedule and follow a show-specific template from show to show. The differences are, podcasts aren’t done in real-time, so listener interaction isn’t immediate. Podcasts are distributed online, so they’re not subject the the FCC rules that a radio broadcast would be. This can lead to some more bluntness and vulgarity, but also to an openness to discuss topics that might not be suitable for radio broadcast.
Personally, I subscribe to a few stand up comedy related podcasts, where the hosts are or were comics and bring in other comics. It’s an interesting way to peek behind the curtain and learn about the business of comedy. I also follow some social media marketing, photography, and digital graphics podcasts, which let me listen to helpful tips and techniques from people who engage in these fields as a career. No matter what you’re into, a search for “subject podcast” should turn up several listening opportunities.
Listen while driving
Even if you can’t listen to something while working, if you have any kind of a commute, you can use that otherwise unproductive time to listen. Podcasts are ideal for commuting, since most shows run between 30 and 90 minutes. Even if you’re driving, you can enjoy a good book without the danger of reading. If you’re on a road trip, an audiobook might help you pass the long miles while driving. That’s what I’ll be doing when this post goes live.