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Let Your Passions Help You With Your Chores, or An Ode to Podcasts

It’s 3:30 p.m — almost the end of a long, exhausting (if fun) day. The kids are winding down for a rare, quiet moment with a book, or a toy, or a show on TV, and I know it’s time to start thinking about dinner. We have friends coming over, and while I don’t like to stress about “making things perfect” for guests, I do like to tidy up a bit.

I glance around to assess the house, only to get a peek at the kitchen sink and see the whole day’s dishes piled up — I like to clean as I go, but today I just never seemed to get to them. The dish pile matches the pile of crumbs under the kitchen table and the pile of laundry on my bed that’s still in a bit of a boxy shape from when I dumped it out of the basket this morning.

I see all that, and yet, what do I honestly feel like doing? Probably something along the lines of flopping on the couch to close my eyes for just a few minutes, or better yet, pulling out my glasses and Kindle to do a bit of reading.

It seems my motivation to be productive is sapped. There are things I know I need to do, but they seem impossible. And while rest is indeed valuable, sometimes — whether in the late afternoon or when the kids have finally gone to bed — there are chores to be done, no matter how lacking my motivation may be.

Sound familiar at all? (Please tell me I’m not the only one who would usually rather hide in the pantry with a piece of chocolate than wash the dishes.)

What I’ve been finding lately though is that all I really need is a catalyst to spark my motivation, because once I accomplish something, one thing leads to another. I found this to be true when I was pulling myself out of a funk a few months ago, and I find it to be true when comes to undesirable housework.

The answer is so easy that it sounds cliché, but it’s as simple as this: finding something that distracts me, energizes me a bit, and keeps me going.

For you, maybe that means going for a quick run before you start your housework, or putting on some upbeat music. I’m not much of a runner, but I hear those endorphins are powerful, and I’ve definitely got some Spotify playlists designed to be played at a particular time of day that needs a little boost.

For me, and I think for many others, the best tool I’ve found to motivate me to get up and do the work that needs to be done is the wonderful world of podcasts. At first I began listening to podcasts when I was driving or on the treadmill, but then I began to see how powerful they are for me at home as well.

As an extrovert, I think that popping in my ear buds and turning on a conversation between two people energizes me the way spending quality time with people does. And listening to a podcast definitely distracts me as I begin the task at hand. My mind isn’t focused on how mundane it is to rinse the millionth fork of the day; it’s captivated by something that is entertaining, inspiring, encouraging, or educational (or all of the above!).

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, as someone to whom keeping up with housework doesn’t come naturally, podcasts have changed my homemaking life.

There’s just something about listening to a podcast that actually — I can’t believe I’m saying this — makes me want to do more housework (my mom’s jaw just hit the floor), just so I can keep listening. Multi-tasking isn’t always actually that productive for me, but this is one area where I can fill my mind and soul while also doing things that need to be done.

Everyone’s tastes are different, but here are a few of my favorites right now:

The real lesson is that, like anything, you have to find what works for you. If you haven’t found a motivator for getting things done yet, I encourage you to try out a few podcasts. And now that podcasts are so prevalent, it seems like you can find one to inspire and encourage you in the area of any number of passions or preferences that you might have (my husband listens to shows such as the Baseball Tonight podcast, Serial, and How Stuff Work).

So pop in an ear bud or two, find a podcast that speaks to your heart and before you know, your floors and sink will shine and you’ll be surprised at how much laundry gets folded.

Editor’s note: This post was previously published on October 1, 2015.

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Kate


  2. beth lehman

    zen parenting radio is a current favorite of mine, as is the happier podcast with gretchen rubin!

  3. Emily

    Yes! I can relate to this. At first I was doing this with podcasts, but now I’ve added audiobooks to the rotation. You can borrow and download library audiobooks from the Overdrive app on your phone!

  4. Bethany Turner

    I love listening to podcasts while I am working around the house. The two podcasts I always listen to are the Relevant Podcast and The Simple Show.

  5. Heidi

    I love listening to the Issues, Etc. podcast as I cook.
    Love audiobooks and The Great Courses by The Teaching Company for laundry. When kids are home, I pop on Netflix and then have all sorts of volunteers to sort and fold and put away.

  6. Marcella

    Totally agree! Folding laundry + podcasts = the best. I wish Liz Gilbert’s podcast would’ve continued but it’s over for now.

    I hope my podcast could help inspire creativity, too, as it’s all about managing the ups and downs of creative process! It’s over at 🙂

  7. Alicia G

    Yes!!! I love podcasts and audiobooks for listening while I’m doing chores and cooking. I love Welcome to Night Vale and the Gretchen Rubin podcast (but I can’t think of the name!). We just finished up all the Harry Potter books not to long ago and those really made the work time fly.

    • Liz

      Gretchen rubin happier podcast

  8. Devi Duerrmeier

    Yes to wanting to hide in the pantry with a bar of chocolate!! I used to tell my husband that around 5pm, if I sit down, I absolutely will not get up again.. and same goes for when he walks in the door from work, it’s like I can’t function anymore. I love this tip, I have never listened to a podcast, but it does seem to be all the rage right now. Will have to give it a try.

    • Sarah

      Get some bluetooth headphones so you can move around easily. The Kinivo BHT240 I have are about 25$ on Amazon & work well 🙂

  9. Amy Bennett

    I like inspiring, faith-based podcasts that are super-relatable:
    Mud Stories with Jacque Watkins, Chrystal Evans Hurst, That Sounds Fun with Annie Downs, Hope*ologie, This is Your Life.

    I also host my own called Feathers: Faith in Life. I interview someone each week that has a story where God called them to something, maybe scary or crazy and we hear how through faith they were obedient and how it turned out. It’s been such a blessing hearing how God works!

  10. Angela @ Setting My Intention

    I love podcasts! I listen to them while walking back and forth from work, cooking dinner, and decluttering! I love Slow Your Home podcast and the Lively Show

    • Mel

      Slow Your Home is my favorite!

  11. Stacy

    I like to put podcasts on my ipad and then hook them up to my speakers in the van! 🙂 Even my kids enjoy listening. Love Kat’s podcast – I also enjoy listening to Michael Hyatt.

  12. Rebekah Hoffer

    I can’t stand doing housework without the aid of a good podcast in my ears! Thank you so much for featuring Sorta Awesome. It is an honor to be listed with all those amazing podcasts.

  13. Stacey

    I enjoy podcasts and audiobooks. But my children seem to sense that my attention is diverted which is a cue to a) ask me a zillion questions b) desperately need assistance or c) begin fighting with one another. So, podcast or no podcast, I’m not getting much uninterrupted time to do housework. 🙂 Maybe some day….

  14. Erica

    All so true! I love This American Life and TED Radio Hour. Power on fellow housework neglecters!

  15. sarah

    I LOVE podcasts! I just updated my own list of favorites to include Sorta Awesome, because I just recently found it. Sally Clarkson started a podcast recently as well. The Relevant Podcast has been one of my favorites for years, it was the first podcast I listened too!

    I will definitely be checking out some of the ones on your list!

  16. Paula

    This is what I started doing too! I love Elise Joy’s podcast (avail thru iTunes or Podcast Addiction app) & an english trivia show, No Such Thing As a Fish. Caroline Te Selle put me on to yours 😉

  17. Julie

    I like This American Life, & Radio Lab (about science stuff but very interesting) & FamilyLife Today (marriage & family).

  18. Caroline Starr Rose

    That’s when I listen in, too! Also while walking the dog and sometimes when running.

    I’m a big fan of Stuff You Missed in History Class, Sara Zarr’s This Creative Life, Gretchen Rubin’s Happier, and, of course, The Simple Show.

  19. Helen E

    Listening to conversation drains me.
    Music on the other hand… 🙂

  20. Sarah

    I love Stuff You Missed in History Class. What a fun way to learn about so many things. My kiddos ask to listen to episodes in the car, too!

  21. Kirsty

    The Moth is amazing. Storytelling at its best. Many an hour whittled away listening and cleaning.

  22. Tori

    This sounds wonderful!! I have a question… We are not able to get wifi at our home therefore cellular data plan is what my internet comes from. Is there a way to download podcast while in town and listen later without costing me a fortune? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

    • Sarah

      Pretty sure that is an option. I like the stitcher app & there is an offline listening option but I’ve never used it…

  23. Brenda Nuland

    I have been working on a huge garage organizing project and been saving favorite podcasts to listen to while working for incentive! My favorites are The Simple Show, The Slow Home Podcast, Hope*ologie, Read Aloud Revival, The Eric Metaxas Show, and the new podcast by my friend, Sallie Clarkson!

    • Brenda Nuland

      That is Sally Clarkson’s At Home With Sally. I type faster than I spell…

  24. Greg

    Haven’t read the other comments. So if someone else recommended The Popcast podcast, then consider this seconding the motion. While I do not get all of the references, I at least feel like I have a clue as to what is going on. It was recommended my Megan Teitz when Tsh interviewed her recently. Can’t take all the credit for recommending it.

  25. Marnie

    Yes! I love listening to podcasts for housework and grocery shopping! I am an expat living away from family and my husband travels for work. Podcasts often feel like two friends have dropped in for a chat but without me having to make the effort. Perfect company for an introvert like me!

  26. Eileen

    Where to begin-I love listening to podcasts! I am currently listening to The Moth, the Allusionist, Dead Authors Podcast (not safe for listening with kiddos due to the language), Sawbones, 99% Invisible, Dear Sugar Radio, and Planet Money.

  27. Sarah

    Love podcasts!
    Favs are:
    Read aloud revival
    The Homeschool Snapshot
    Your morning Basket
    Inspired to Action
    Focus on the family
    I use the stitcher app & Kinivo BHT 240 bluetooth headphones 🙂

  28. Bronwen

    Fully agree on podcasts and housework. Especially once I got a Bluetooth earpiece. Some favorites are note to self, reply all, the longest shortest time, and the memory palace.

  29. Sarah

    I’ve been reading a lot of behavioral analysis and behavior shaping material lately, and i think this concept is called pairing – combining a highly desired activity with a less desired activity until eventually it reinforces the less desired activity and you want to or naturally do it. Genius. 🙂

  30. Victoria

    This is so genius.

  31. melanie

    I’ve been listening to all of the Thrilling Adventure Hour (again!) and Serial, even though both are currently complete. Also awesome – Lore Podcast (where do spooky stories come from?) and Welcome to Nightvale.

  32. Christina

    I do not do podcasts at all. I am not an auditory person and prefer reading. So I’d like it if the podcasts were downloadable in print.
    I guess its the thing right now. But as far as mindfulness goes, listening to something and multitasking is not my idea of simplicity.
    Just my 2 cents, but go for it if it helps you do stuff.

    When I fold laundry, I fold laundry. When I wash dishes , I wash dishes.
    Chop wood, carry water! Before enlightenment, and after enlightenment. Buddha ,or some zen saying.

  33. Becky

    I love the following podcasts (though everyone’s tastes are different):
    *On Being with Krista Tippett – The Big Questions of Meaning
    *Serial (a complete season – addicting but not appropriate for children)
    *Ted Radio Hour
    *Pray as You Go (which is also a free app) – Daily music, scripture and meditation/directed study by Jesuit Media Initiatives
    *PRI: To the Best of Our Knowledge

    *Regarding Ted Talks in general, I encourage you to watch Bryan Stevenson’s “We Need to Talk about an Injustice” – powerful, thought-provoking and important.

  34. Courtney

    I have to recommend OffCamera with Sam Jones — heard about it on the Simple Show podcast…can’t stop listening to it!

  35. Diana

    Agreed! It’s hard to listen when all the kids are little and I’m constantly dealing with things for them. But sometimes it still works out and I always thoroughly enjoy it! I love The Splendid Table and, for those of you who sew, Colette patterns just started a new one called Seamwork Radio.

  36. Bel

    The podcasts I love listening to at the moment are-
    Elaine’s Kitchen Table
    Focus On The Family

  37. Kal

    I do this! The only way to get me into a non-grumpy mood while doing the chores, especially Sunday cleaning, is through listening to true crime podcasts.

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