These Short Podcasts Will Slot Perfectly Into Your Working Day

Jazmin Kopotsha

Don't get me wrong. I completely understand the lure of a meaty podcast series to keep you hooked and distracted from the real world as long as possible. I'm with you. But let's face it, that's not always the most convenient form of escapism, is it?

Many of us choose to fill our journeys to work with podcasts to help us zone out and into another world. But I can't be the only one who finds it wildly irritating when I arrive at the office with at least 20 minutes of an episode left and no way to finish it off without the boss questioning why you've still got your headphones in. We live in the entertainment binge economy, people! And sometimes a forced cutoff point is a good thing – especially when there's barely enough time in the day to fit all of these things in.

So I've done some digging/interrogating of friends to bring you short, commute-friendly podcasts that don't compromise on quality. If you're after something newsy to help set you up for the day, want an authoritative insight into the showbiz world or are still on the true crime bandwagon, these podcasts leave you enough time to orientate yourself to the fact that yep, it's another working day.

News & Politics

Courtesy of Today In Focus

The Daily

If you're looking for something to save you from idly sliding through news websites on your way into work, you'll be in safe hands with the New York Times ' weekday podcast, The Daily. Particularly, of course, if you need a hand keeping up with what is really going on in America right now. It'll come as no surprise to see that politics play a heavy role in their coverage, but if you're looking for the nitty-gritty of topics that'd otherwise be a bit heavy to sit and read, here's where to start.

Average episode length: 25 mins

Today in Focus

The Guardian's daily news podcast is a well loved addition to your playlist to keep you up to date on this side of the pond (and has a far less consistent focus on politics than The Daily if that's not your vibe). It gives a solid overview of international updates as well as a deeper level of insight into the familiar Brexit, climate change and education crisis that you may have skimmed in the headlines. At the very least, it's quite nice to scroll back through the last few weeks of episode titles to remind yourself how much has been going on.

Average episode length: 25 mins

Slow Burn

Savvy social media types might've heard people talking about this one on Twitter when the Monica Lewinsky season landed towards the end of 2018. The beauty of a podcast like this, though, is that even if you missed the first wave of excitement, you're never really that far behind. Hosted by Leon Neyfakh, the podcast deep dives into some of the biggest events in recent political history, introducing you to key players who may have otherwise escaped the limelight. Season one focused on what it was like to live through the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, while season two circled back around to Bill Clinton's impeachment.

Average episode length: 36 mins

Entertainment

Courtesy of The Treatment

Song Exploder

So you think you're a music fan? Well, Song Exploder is likely to shake up what you think you know about some of your favourite songs. Artists are invited onto the show to completely take apart their songs and explain the decisions that went into how they were made. If you happen to be fascinated by the creative process and the technical specifics of creating a track, perfect. You have arrived at the right podcast. If you're unfamiliar and are just a little curious about the anecdotes behind the music, you'll enjoy this too. Guests have included Solange, Fleetwood Mac, Wolf Alice, Lorde and Björk.

Average episode length: 20 mins

The Treatment

Here's another podcast that'll make you feel like you're listening in on very important, influential conversations that wouldn't normally make it out to the public. You know The Favourite? The Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone film that swept its way through 2019 awards season? At the time of writing, Yorgos Lanthimos, the celebrated director behind the movie, is the last person to step up to the mic and discuss his work. Bradley Cooper has been on to talk A Star Is Born, Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman, Regina Hall for Support The Girls, Mahershala Ali for Green Book... the list goes on.

Average episode length: 30 mins

Disgraceland

Okay, this one crosses both the entertainment and true crime genres, so bear with me while I try to explain. It's about musicians at the centre of the most outrageous scandals. We're talking rock stars with criminal connections and theories about how other musical superpowers really died. You'll be hooked and probably not quite able to listen to some of your parent's favourite albums in the same way ever again.

Average episode length: 30 mins

Crime

Courtesy of Limetown

Criminal

Three guesses what this one is about... Yes. It's a podcast about crime and a very good one at that. The breadth of coverage is a little wider than your average true crime podcast, though. It sweeps between the people who have actually committed crimes, victims and those who have been screwed over as well as those who simply got caught in the middle. It's all wildly fascinating. The episodes stretch right across history so even if you're already a true crime buff, you'll definitely come across unfamiliar stories here.

Average episode length: 30 mins

A Very Fatal Murder

The clue is in the title once more, except all is not as it seems. This is a satirical podcast hosted by a fictional reporter called David Pascall. If you're overly familiar with what's now become a saturated genre then this might be worth investigating, not only for the familiar territory of the other true crime podcasts it mimics (and mocks – listen out for the reference to 'the one where a really hot white girl dies'), but for the strength of brilliant delivery. You'll not be able to take other legit true crime podcasts quite as seriously.

Average episode length: 10 minutes

Limetown

ICYMI, Jessica Biel is set to star in an adaptation of this popular podcast and the series is coming to Facebook Watch sometime this year. If that's not enough of an excuse to tune in, just know that it's a fiction series about a town that disappeared. A town. Gone. It's as intense and thrilling as you'd hope it to be, but in a way that won't completely take over your life for the next four months. The episodes are done and you could get through them all in a couple of weeks of journeys on public transport.

Average episode length: 35 mins

Lifestyle & Culture

Courtesy of About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge

We Are Offline

Though we may not always be willing to admit it to ourselves, we all know that we spend a lot of time on our phones. Opening up the conversation about our unhealthy relationship with social media, two Instagram addicts (their words, not mine!) bring you a podcast that discusses our growing dependency on the digital world. From ghosting, trolling and selfies to that tendency to compare ourselves to strangers, you'll soon realise you're not alone in your stress.

Average episode length: 38 mins

For a Bad Time, Call…

This is such an excellent idea that I wish I'd come across sooner. The premise is simply that women are encouraged to call the podcast hotline 669-BAD-TIME and leave a voicemail. It's an opportunity to vent, rant, despair at the world and then have it popped into a strangely satisfying audio-bite of pure female rage. There really isn't a limit to the topics covered, so if you're pissed about it, you'll probably hear another woman who's really annoyed about the same thing.

Average episode length: 5 mins

About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge

Even if you haven't gotten around to reading it yet, you'll likely be familiar with Reni Eddo-Lodge's brilliant book Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race. The premise of this limited podcast is pretty much to take the conversation one step further, with literal conversation. The show sees various guests join Eddo-Lodge in discussion of how far we have and haven't come in the UK's handling of racism.

Average episode length: 25 mins

Relationships

Courtesy of Love and Luck

Love and Luck

This brilliant podcast uses the very endearing answerphone format, too. It's a fictional love story set in modern day Melbourne, Australia. Think of it a little bit like an audio play told through voicemail. It follows the relationship between Jason and Kane who learn that they have magic powers. Don't laugh, it's sweet and actually has a happy ending to it if that's something you've been missing.

Average episode length: 8 minutes

Why Oh Why

You know how our love lives are now desperately intertwined with technology? That little thing? This weekly podcast is all over it. Every episode sees host Andrea Silenzi chat to mates, men and experts about where the crossover between love, sex, romance, dating and tech really is. There are anecdotes, of course, as well as just the right amount of cringe-worthy material to make you feel a little bit better about your sorry love life.

Average episode length: 40 mins

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