30 Days of Silence

A pair of headphones.
(Image: Garrett Morrow)

For the last 30 days, at 12:00 am I dutifully put my headphones in and pressed play on a podcast. This podcast was a little different. Rather than piping animated conversation or thrilling stories into my ears, this one played silence. Yep, just silence. I kept the podcast going, episode after episode, for every hour of the day. I alternated my left and right earbuds into their charging case to keep the batteries going. I did not press pause until 11:59 pm.

At 12:00 am, I started again. For 30 days straight.

Okay, no, I didn’t actually do that. Because that would be bonkers, and because I use Overcast. It’s the podcast player that pioneered Smart Speed, a feature that has become standard for good podcast apps. Smart Speed strips out the pauses in speech, which extend between sentences and words as people gather their thoughts, to speed up the playback without actually speeding up anyone’s speech. And, critically, it’s done proportionally so that extended silences sound longer than shorter ones. It just” compresses the silences relative to their length, leaving the flow of the conversation still sounding very natural.

So, instead of those 724 hours of silence, I’ve been able to listen to 724 more hours of my favorite podcasts, without adding any extra time over the last six years.

These little time savings that add up every day are perhaps the best unseen and under-appreciated benefits of technology. If you’re not using a podcast player that saves you time without resorting to bumping up the playback speed, give Overcast a try. (I hear Pocket Casts on Android does it pretty well, too.)


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