Audio Digital Living Minimalism

Six Simple Steps to Declutter Your Digital Listening Skills

How to use technology to improve your listening habits

In Four Focus Areas for Frugal Digitalism, I talked about how to save money by taking advantage of free audio opportunities.  Free content, however, is only valuable if you’re mindful of how and why you listen. In this article, I lay out a framework for improving your digital listening habits and getting more out of the time you spend with your digital audio content.

Step 1: Put Down the Spotify and Ask Why

Most people queue up their favorite Spotify playlist and start listening without asking why.  More specifically, they don’t take the time to assess whether they’re getting meaning out of what they listen to.  That’s why it makes sense to take a step back from your music, podcast, or audiobook and focus on being more intentional listening.  So before you begin your journey to audio enlightenment, start by asking yourself a series of  questions about your listening habits:

  • What are you listening to?
  • Why are you listening to this?
  • Does listening to this help you accomplish your overall life goals?
    • If not, what goals are being left unmet?
    • If so, what aspects of the listening are aiding you in accomplishing your goals?

Step 2: Shift the Focus to What Matters

If you answered “Yes” to the question about whether your listening habits contribute to your life goals, then congrats – you can stop reading.  But, assuming you’re like most of us, the answer to the life goal question is at least partially “No.”   In this case, when you encounter a playlist, music station, podcast, or audiobook that doesn’t align with your goals, stop listening and start the process of listing out which goals you’re falling short on.

Step 3: Lay Out Logical Listening Themes Around Your Goals

Take a look at what audio content does add meaning to your life and has enabled you to accomplish your goals. Assign that meaningful content to a thematic category.  For any life goals that don’t have meaningful content associated with them, create general thematic categories against which you’ll start assigning content.  Personally, I’ve organized my weekly listening habits around six different themes, each with a very specific life-purpose in mind:

  • Minimalism is born of my desire to live a simpler life and never grow my possessions to the point where they take more time to maintain than the value that they provide.
  • Technology is tied to my desire to live a digitally-driven life and ensures I’m staying informed of what’s on the digital horizon.
  • Work takes up a large portion of my life, so staying on top of the skills needed to be successful in the workplace is an important goal for me.
  • Relationships have suffered because I’m not a social person, so building stronger relationships with the people in my life become important.
  • Finance is a theme that warrants focus because I want to be financially independent and in control of my money.
  • Entrepreneurship is a long term aspiration, as I want to be able to branch out on my own and use the skills I have to generate my own revenue streams and live a financially freeing and technology-focused life.

Step 4: Explore Content That Aligns with Your Themes

You can find plenty of free or ad-supported content on the web to match the themes, a few great options include:

See the Four Focus Areas for Frugal Digitalism to find out more.

Step 5: Plug Content Into Each Theme

Once you’ve found free content, it’s simply a matter of plugging that into each thematic category and assigning that a day or time of the week in which to list. For me this breaks down as follows:

  • Monday – “Minimalist Monday” serves as the start to my work week in which I listen to The Minimalists podcast along with other media intended to keep my mind centered on intentional, minimal living.
  • Tuesday – “Technology Tuesday” is an opportunity for me to stay grounded in the world of technology through podcasts like HTGuys and The Verge.
  • Wednesday – “World Wide Wednesday” is my day to focus on what I need to do to improve my skills as they pertain to my job at World Wide Technology.  In addition to listening to the podcast created by the division in which I work, I use this time to listen to work-appropriate audiobooks that help me improve the skills needed to build a better workplace.
  • Thursday – “Relationship Thursday” is about personal improvement skills and dedicated to listening to audiobooks that help me build better relationships.
  • Friday – “Financial Friday” is perhaps the most jam-packed part of my week, where I mentally review the state of my finances and listen to podcasts such as Frugal Friends, 2 Frugal Dudes, and yes, even Dave Ramsey.
  • Saturday & Sunday – “Side Hustle Saturday and Sunday” is focused on honing my entrepreneurial side and to help me push my digital presence, including this blog, to the next level. Podcasts related to blogging (The Blog Millionaire and Do You Even Blog) and entrepreneurship (such as Side Hustle Nation) are on my playlist all weekend long.

Step 6: Execute

Once you have your themes defined, content integrated, and playlists ready to go – it’s time to execute your plan. Simply start listening and fill your time (the car ride to-and-from work, your work out, during meal preparation) with the wholesome and free content to help you accomplish your life goals

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