On podcasts as a medium to continuously learn

Podcasts and audiobooks are truly great inventions that allow me to parallel-task. Here is how I make time for them

Vlad Rybalkin
5 min readFeb 11, 2023

Besides reading, podcasts are among the few learning mediums that work for me. Podcasts give this empowering feeling of being able to cram so much more in a unit of time. When listening to a podcast, I can split my attention between a few activities unlike when reading, watching, or talking. Each of those is a fantastic way to learn and stay entertained but requires serious concentration on the medium in front of me. By listening to live or recorded conversations, though, I am in a magic moment where I can suddenly do two things and what is more importantly do them well. That almost feels like a superpower.

As you might have guessed, I like listening to podcasts. I like a lot of things though and I definitely can not make time for everything I like. I did however find a way to make podcasts work for me.

Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash

Step 1

First of all, I recognized my primary activities — areas that are integral to my well-being: self-actualization, family, crossing a road :), supporting activities, continuous improvement, staying healthy, and staying fit. It is my responsibility to make time for those activities in order to remain functional.

Step 2

Next, I had to identify my current effort distribution in those areas. Right now the winners are self-actualization, family, supporting activities, staying fit and continuous improvement. There is definitely a health-related aspect I am missing out on. I am sure it will catch up with me one way or another.

This step is needed though as it helps to make some conscious tradeoffs. I know I am not going to make do everything I want or likely even half of that so I have to choose what NOT to do. Not making a conscious decision has resulted in life making a choice for me a few times already. Mostly what followed in such cases was not to my liking: hospitalization 11 years ago due to prioritizing staying fit over staying healthy, break up after not prioritizing a relationship and not communicating that to the other person, and a few other things.

Step 3

Now it is essential to find means to an end. Or ends that were identified in step 2.

Right now, my main way to self-actualize is through my work. This may sound sad and depressing but this is true. While I am trying to get better as a writer and a product management educator, I am far from that. There is also a sports and fitness aspect to self-actualization but it is steadily declining as nearing 35 and without solid sports achievements other than a few karate competitions years ago and the ability to do musle-ups and a back tuck, this is not a path to grandeur :)

Family is a primary activity and an end at the same time. My wife, my parents, and a few close friends I consider to be an extension of my family are my strongest connections to this world that give a sense of fulfillment and support at the same time.

Crossing a road was there just for fun. All jokes aside, stay alert when doing so!

Supporting activities are just those things I have to take care of in order to not worry about basics: safety, food, and all the other good Maslow stuff. Mostly it comes down to forms of obligations I have to others: paying stuff on time in terms of money or time commitment. Work as a function resides here (just getting done things that earn the buck).

Staying fit is something I achieve through running and gym (pull-ups, bag work, back, shoulders, and squats). Kyokushin karate has a special place in my life but I am getting too lazy and fearful to practice it to the extent it deserves. After one of my ribs was cracked, I have not been to training for over 3 months.

Staying healthy right now is a definite underdog in terms of priorities. I will not speak of this topic more in this post. I do need to focus on it more and I believe finding “me” time is a medium to do so I have heavily underused.

Finally, we are getting to the area of continuous improvement. This is quite a loaded topic with a number of means to an end: weekly sessions with a psychologist (a great tool my discover my blind spots), professional improvements, and taking notes.

Note-taking is such an important area of my life that deserves a whole post.

As for professional improvement, it is mostly reading and podcasts these days.

Step 4 — How to actually find time for it?

The answer is that finding time can actually be surprisingly easy. That is when there is no competition. For me, anytime I am on my own (gym, running, running an errand) AND I am choosing not to dwell in my thoughts AND I choose to NOT listen to music, which is most of the time these days, I choose to split the time between that activity and continuous learning.

Because staying fit is kind of high on my list, I spend 5–7 hours per week on any form of exercise. Guess what that also means. I have 5–7 hours of time I can dedicate to all the fun and great podcasts I discover on my own or through recommendations.


To bring this train of thought to its arriving station here is what I would like to say:

I like podcasts and I make time for them because I recognize them as a way to continuously improve that also simultaneously fulfills a task of another category: staying fit or supporting activity. What helped me choose podcasts is the simplicity connected to accessing the content (mostly related to technology), low opportunity cost (because I do it when I am doing something else, I am not really losing time), and ability to progress towards an important area of my life (continuous improvement) at the same time.



Vlad Rybalkin

Ukrainian guy who writes stories, enjoys calisthenics and kyokushin, happily married, dreams about travel to South America. Lives in Northern Utah, Logan.