I read somewhere that it’s a good productivity exercise to listen to audio books and podcasts on 2x speed. This, the theory goes, will allow you to consume information twice as fast and therefore be twice as effective. Naturally, an experiment was in order.
I do think podcasts are better twice as fast. I prefer to read information and am very fast at that, so podcasts often feel like they take too long for the information they deliver. I don’t mind in some cases, but in others I feel I’m plodding along. The only time 2x speed failed me was when a podcast guest had an ex-ter-em-ely thick Southern country accent and was also a fast talker. I felt I was going to suffer a heart attack if I kept on at that speed so I dropped to 1.5x and that was fine.
Audio books were tougher. I already have to really focus to follow the arguments in audio books since I’m not an auditory learner. This is a good exercise for my brain, though, so I press on. I have gotten better at doing history in this fashion, as long as I don’t mind missing bits here and there. At 2x speed, I think I started to lose too much. I listened to Helen Castor’s Joan of Arc as my first experiment, and while I enjoyed it and thought I was following along, I can’t really point to any new information I gleaned from the book. I’ve read about Joan before, and we studied her in our homeschool, so maybe I just had enough exposure already, but I can’t help feeling that I might have gained more from reading the book than listening–at least on double speed.
Your mileage may vary, but I think I will stick to speeding up in smaller increments, or just tough out the longer time investment of audio books in order not to sacrifice the details.
What do you think? Have you experimented with speeding up your listening? How did it work for you?
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