The Benefits of Being Alone

For me, podcasts were love at first sight.

I've loved them from my very first listen over 10 years ago (very likely a This American Life episode). I love the format, I love the varying length, I love that you can use them to keep up with the news or with your career or with people you feel like are your friends.

I normally listen to podcasts literally any time I'm alone: while in the shower, while cooking dinner or doing dishes, while out for a walk, or while driving in the car alone on the way to pick up the kids. I've typically had a podcast on basically all the time for the past 10 years or so.

But that changed about a month ago.

I've been working on a cool thing at work, and also working on a cool side-project outside of work. Both with lots of interaction, lots of state to manage. Both require lots of thinking to be done.

I had so much stuff to think through, I decided to try leaving my AirPods at home. That was about a month ago, and I haven't put them in since.

In the past month, on walks and drives and showers and dishwasher-unloadings, I've solved dozens and dozens of problems.

When given the space to actually think, your brain does a remarkable job in doing just that. It just thinks — all on it's own!

If you've always got headphones in, It's worth trying out a couple of walks or car-rides without them. At this point, it's hard to imagine going back to a world where I give up all this free thinking time and fill it with podcasts.


  1. The post title is a reference to a Rose Cousins song.
  2. Yes, my podcasts absolutely are backing up.
  3. Yes, I still listen to This American Life.
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