Podcasts and screencasts can eat up a lot of time. I’ve started to see a swing towards listening to podcasts and watching screencasts and less time spent putting what I get from them into practice.

For the last year I’ve been a healthy listener of a variety of podcasts. They are centered around software development, programming and freelancing. Every week I listen to about five or six different episodes on these topics. While they’re entertaining to listen to, I’m starting to see that I’m not getting as much value from them. Sure there’s sometimes a glimmer of programming language knowledge that you didn’t know about, but is it worth putting in a good half hour of your time for that one little morsel of knowledge?

Then there’s the screencasts. I had a few of these going last year, again on the topic of software development. Screencasts definitely need more of your time as you can’t watch them when you’re out on the bike or in the car, they need you to both listen and watch. In terms of getting time to watch these, I simply didn’t have the time available. And then every few weeks I would simply declare screencast redundancy and remove them from my list to watch.

Since removing these from my list of intakes I’m seeing more of a move towards reading online, books and RSS feeds. They can be more easily consumed on the go and using smaller blocks of time. This in turn has allowed me to spend a bit more time learning those things that I only listened to in podcasts or watched in screencasts.

Learning isn’t simply about consuming as much information about the topic that you’re interested in, you need time to apply what you have consumed and seeing if you can in fact you use it correctly. I hope to be doing that a lot more this year and re-address the balance of learning.