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Written by Rene January 2018
My wife said to me one night, "Wow, I've been on [social media] for 14 years and wasted so much time just scrolling...I wish I could take back 40% of it. I could have been a master at something by now, but instead I'm a master at scrolling Facebook." And so, we have the million-dollar question: what will she say when she reflects again, another decade from now? People are losing time fast and they don't even know it! If it's not self-inflicted time waste, then it's distracting technology or other people stealing your time. Bit by bit. Are you letting these bad time management habits form? 

Ask yourself, have you ever:
  • Procrastinated on deadlines?
  • Stayed up late gaming?
  • Binge-watched shows late into the night?
  • ​Mindlessly scrolled social media?
  • ​Slept in way too late?
Why does so much time get wasted? It's because we don't respect time and we make excuses. Even though we know that we're wasting time, we joke and laugh about it. We accept it—especially when we hear others do the same things. No! Let's flip the script! Get in the habit of forming the best version of yourself every day by turning your time-waste, or otherwise fluff time, into real life gains!

What if you could learn something new constantly, motivate yourself repeatedly; feeding your mind only positive reinforcement? Imagine if you specialized at doing what others don't do.

For example:
  • You don't mindlessly scroll social media while waiting in lines. Instead you feed your mind something new! 
  • You don't listen to overplayed songs during your commutes. Instead you feed your mind something educational! 
  • You don't watch the news while you get ready for work. Instead you feed your mind something positive!
  • ​You never do any mundane task without turning it into an opportunity for growth!
Here's a valuable trick that can salvage wasted time. Learn how to tap into informational listening. It's a way of recycling by converting time-waste into time-gain!

What is informational listening?

It's the absorption of information with your ears. Unlike reading with your eyes, listening is non-confining. When you listen, you're free to move and look around. As a result, informational listening is perfect for gaining more time and fostering new knowledge throughout your day. It allows you to optimize your otherwise wasted time. 

Take for example your drive time. Instead of listening to music during a 30-minute commute, listen to a podcast or an audiobook. Consider the time you spend in the bathroom, walking, or even exercising. Why are you not recycling this time into reusable knowledge?

Consider that the average CEO is said to read 60 books a year, with informational listening you could consume that same level of information (or more)!

Let's say, each day you spend 30 minutes commuting to-and-from work and another 30 minutes total in the bathroom. That equals over 360 hours each year of missed opportunities for learning, motivating, or reinforcing better habits. 

Look at it this way. You could gain an extra 360 hours per year! Breaking that down further, let's say you spent that time listening to audiobooks with an average six-hour runtime. That means you would listen to 60 audiobooks in a year. If you listened to 60 non-fiction audiobooks per year, what kind of positive impact would that have on your life?!

What if you're not an auditory learner?

There are many reasons why people overlook informational learning. 

For example:
  • Some people prefer to read. They like holding real books and flipping every page.
  • Some people prefer to listen to music. They enjoy how songs take them way back.
  • Some people prefer to think. They like to let their thoughts run wild and free.
  • ​Some people just don't like listening. They have a short attention span or talk too much.
  • ​Some people just don't have the time. They are quite literally too busy.
The above are excuses. The solution is simple...it can be answered with one question. Do you want to become a better person? Yes or no.

Look here...
  • If you're a speed reader and you're already reading 60 books, good! Then you could double your intake with information listening. Who wouldn't want to get twice as smart?!
  • If you prefer to listen to music, good! Then you could listen to books on music theory, music stories, or artist/creative podcasts.
  • If you prefer to think, good! Then you could get better by listening to deep meditations, critical thinking, or psychology audiobooks.
  • ​If you don't like listening to others talk or maybe you talk too much, good! Then you could practice becoming a better listener with audiobooks about active listening, focusing, questioning, or anything related to sales/negotiating.
  • If you don't have time, good! Then you can gain more time by listening to audiobooks for better time management, productivity, or how to reduce stress.
Unfortunately, the reality is that very few people are reading books today—let alone, listening to audiobooks. Regardless the excuses that pop up, decide to consciously get smarter and improve, or just get used to being passed up in life. If you don't want to be passed up in life, then take informational listening seriously!

Don't even think about labeling yourself as a non-auditory learner. Don't buy into that negativity! You are a dynamo! A self-starter! Just because you have obstacles now, doesn't mean they are forever. With a little work and determination you can train your ears to absorb information and find work-arounds for every obstacle. Try it out for a couple of months. Download your favorite podcast app or audiobook app now!

What if you're a beginner?

Here's a quick beginner's guide to start. I'll give you everything I've learned listening to 10,000+ hours of audiobooks and podcasts.

If you're just starting out it can get messy and if you're not careful you can wind up with an assortment of misaligned apps. The apps that people usually start with are phone dependent, e.g. android vs apple. Android phones have Google Podcasts and Google Play Books. While iPhones have Apple Podcasts and Apple Books. Before you lock yourself into one side or the other, consider interchangeable apps. For example, Stitcher and Audible. If you start an account with Stitcher or Audible you can download the app on pretty much any smartphone. 

In my opinion, I prefer Stitcher and Audible because of their versatility. Also, when it comes to Audible it's easier to share with your family. Know this: if you start using the native apps for Google or Apple they link straight to your personal Gmail or Apple account. This is problematic if you want to share your virtual library amongst your family. What worked best for my family was to create one shared Audible account that we all can log into at the same time. Now the whole family shares one virtual library independent from our individual Gmail and Apple accounts. Note: when it comes to podcasts there is no need to share a library, so everyone is free to start their own individual Stitcher accounts.

Podcasts vs Audiobooks

Initially when I started, I favored Stitcher podcasts, but over time I got burnt out. The bad started to outweigh the good for me, so now I primarily use Audible audiobooks only. Below you'll find a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of both podcasts and audiobooks.

Podcasts

Pros:

  • Free
  • Shorter conversations/story formed
  • Entertaining and informative 

Cons:

  • Ads and commercial interruptions
  • Small talking/rambling
  • Repetitive intros and outros

Audiobooks

Pros:

  • Ad free and commercial free
  • Fully-formed narratives
  • Educational and informative

Cons:

  • Cost money
  • Lengthy and can't give it away
  • Some narrator's voices can be annoying 
Regardless of which app you use or whether you like audiobooks more than podcasts, the most important thing is the quality of your Bluetooth earphones. This is vital — it can make or break your experience. So to truly take advantage of the power of audio you need the most efficient and versatile earphones. I absolutely love using AfterShokz Bone Conduction Headphones because they are waterproof and allow for great situational awareness. The bone conducting technology emits sound through the cheekbones without putting anything inside or over the ears. This allows you to hear what's going on around you, in any situation, when the earphones are in use.

Here is a list of ideas to consider when and how to listen:
  • Waiting to be called (in lines, on hold, breaks, etc.)
  • Traveling for work or leisure (via bike, car, bus, boat, plane, etc.)
  • Gaming at home (mute the sound on your TV or computer screen)
  • ​Exercising indoors or outdoors (walking, running, biking, etc.)
  • ​Bathroom time (getting ready, on the toilet, or showering)
  • ​Watching/looking (babysitting, inspecting, guarding, etc.)
  • ​Working/doing chores (cleaning, mowing, painting, etc.)
  • ​Resting/lounging (when you wake up or before bed)

One last thing, I'm not suggesting to always listen to something and never have any quiet time. It's important to have downtime—but schedule it. I'm just trying to encourage you not to waste any time. Life is short. Oh, and something else to consider: it's often overlooked by our culture, but if you take the Sabbath seriously and don't do any work for an entire day, you will be able to push harder your next six days. Though you'll be down a whole day each week, you will push harder if you treat your week like a race with a finish line. That one true day off will be so much more enjoyable knowing you crushed the last six days. That's just my experience, though—don't listen to me. Listen to audiobooks!  

I put together a list below (click the title to view details). 

HAPPY LISTENING!
Challenge! Pick an audiobook from the list and buy it right now: 
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