Enlightened State

10 Podcasts to Energize Your Mornings

Morgan VanekComment

Lately I've been trying to wake up earlier in an attempt to make the most of my morning hours.  Unfortunately, sleep inertia makes this difficult on more days than others.  By the time I stumble out of bed, I'm usually rushing to shower, eat, and walk Daisy before I need to leave for work. 

My losing battle against the alarm clock made me realize that if I wanted to get more out of the early hours of my day, I needed to find a way to do it during the time I was actually awake.  Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to read or write or cook an elaborate breakfast while I'm blow-drying my hair and brushing my teeth.  Instead, I turned to podcasts to energize, encourage, and educate me while my hands are occupied with other, more mundane tasks. 

Podcasts can be a bit of a rabbit-hole when you're first starting out.  There are so many, and it's easy to become overwhelmed when you're choosing which ones to dedicate your time to.  When I first started listening to podcasts, I spent a lot of hours with my headphones in my ears, trying out every show that sounded even remotely interesting.  To be honest, not all of them were great. But the majority of the podcasts I found were really excellent; they were thoughtful, funny, and polished.

I'm still spending a lot of time with my headphones in. The awesome thing about podcasts is that they travel well. I don't just listen to them while I'm getting ready - I also tune in while I'm walking the dog, cooking dinner, and during my commute.  While I'm still exploring the vast world of podcasts, I've found a few that keep me coming back every week. 

I've listed my top ten favorite podcasts below. I hope you'll give them a listen! 

#Millennial / millennialshow,com

#Millennial / millennialshow,com

1. #Millennial

#Millennial is hands-down my favorite podcast. It's hosted by four hilarious, intelligent twenty-somethings who will keep you up-to-date about what's going on in the world, and how it relates to the millennial generation. Matt, Laura, Elysa and Andrew are informative without being boring, and the show breaks down complex issues so that you can discuss them with your co-workers and sound like you actually know what you're talking about. While the show often covers serious topics like campus rape, gun control, and politics in the Middle East, the hosts keep things light with segments like WTF News and Surprise, Bitch! (where the hosts call a random listener and ask them whether or not they've been vaccinated). Listen to #Millennial if you want a fresh take on current events with more than a dash of humor. 

Lady to Lady / maximumfun.org

Lady to Lady / maximumfun.org

2. Lady to Lady

Hosts Tess Barker, Barbara Gray, and Brandie Posey are comedians who will brighten up your morning with their sharp wit and weird sense of humor.  Each episode features a guest Lady, and while I can't put my finger on a specific focus for this podcast, the hosts keep it consistent with regular segments like "Lady Problems" and "Would You Rather." Lady to Lady feels more like an organic conversation between your funniest friends than a podcast - and that's a good thing! When you add their original music to the mix, it creates audio gold. Lady to Lady is perfect for people with an off-beat sense of humor who enjoy stand-up comedy or watch Garfunkel and Oates on IFC.

Raise Your Hand. Say Yes. / tiffanyhan.com

Raise Your Hand. Say Yes. / tiffanyhan.com

3. Raise Your Hand. Say Yes.

Raise Your Hand. Say Yes. is hosted by Tiffany Han, a blogger and business coach who is trying to get it together just like you. Han hosts a few of the episodes alone, but typically you'll be listening in as she interviews movers and shakers like Todd Henry and Kari Chapin. She covers topics that will help you be a better version of yourself, like Creative Freedom, Authenticity, and Enthusiasm.  Raise Your Hand. Say Yes. will motivate you to work toward your personal and professional goals, and live a happier life in the process,  Tune in if you're stuck in a rut, or if you just need a dose of inspiration.

Upvoted / reddit.com

Upvoted / reddit.com

4. Upvoted

If you've spent any time on Reddit, you know what a time-suck it can be. There are a huge number of subreddits that cover every topic imaginable, and while some of them are trivial (or, even offensive), some posts grab your attention and touch your heart. Upvoted interviews the contributors of these posts and expands their stories, taking them beyond Reddit and into real life. Listening is always a wild card - you never know what post will make it into the podcast. Upvoted is a great choice if you like being surprised and delighted (and if you're a Redditor, of course).

Adulthood Made Easy / realsimple.com

Adulthood Made Easy / realsimple.com

5. Adulthood Made Easy

This podcast by Real Simple magazine is a how-to guide for the current generation. If you've ever struggled with finding a doctor, an apartment, or just a good glass of wine on the restaurant menu, this podcast is for you. Twenty-something host Sam Zabell interviews experts in these topics and more, and she's figuring this stuff out along with you. Her questions are authentic and will resonate with you, and you'll finish each episode feeling empowered to do something new.

Alohomora! / mugglenet.com

Alohomora! / mugglenet.com

6. Alohomora!

The first podcast I ever listened to back in 2007 was Mugglecast, a Harry Potter-themed show I learned about while nerding-out on Mugglenet,com. Ten years after its inception, Mugglecast is still kicking, but it's only released every month or so. For a weekly dose of Potter fun, check out Alohomora. It's a chapter-by-chapter re-read of the entire series that keeps things fresh with a number of rotating hosts, insights from Pottermore, and some good old-fashioned speculation. Alohomora is for listeners who want to revisit the books that made their childhood magical.

Dear Sugar / wbur.org

Dear Sugar / wbur.org

7. Dear Sugar Radio

Once upon a time, literary website The Rumpus hosted an advice column written by Sugar, the pen name for writers Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed. Some years later, Strayed unveiled herself as the author of the columns and published some of her best in a collection called Tiny Beautiful Things. I could go on and on about how good the book is, but I'll spare you and recommend that you listen to the new podcast, Dear Sugar Radio, instead. Both former Sugar writers respond to letters written by listeners, and the advice they give is so full of heart and wisdom. If you want to feel better about humanity and your own struggles, listen to Dear Sugar Radio (and read Tiny Beautiful Things - seriously).

She Does / shedoespodcast.com/

She Does / shedoespodcast.com/

8. She Does

This awesome podcast explores the stories of exceptional women who are shaking things up and making things happen. This is a perfect listen for anyone in the media field, and the stories and advice you'll hear are sure to inspire you to keep reaching for more in your own life. My favorite episode so far featured Mary Coleman, a Senior Development Executive at Pixar. Her story about being young and unable to "fake it" in her career really resonated with me and my search to find my purpose and authentic voice. Listen to She Does on days when you want to feel like a boss.

Serial / serialpodcast.org/

Serial / serialpodcast.org/

9. Serial

This is the podcast that started it all - or more accurately, re-started it all.  Podcasts were trendy back in the early 2000s, but it wasn't until Serial came along that this form of media really started exploding.  I hadn't listened to a podcast in a long time, when all of a sudden it seemed like everyone and their mother was tuning in to Serial.  I was skeptical at first - podcasts had come and gone, hadn't they? Eventually, I gave it a try and saw why everyone was so addicted to it: it was suspenseful, informative, interesting, and best of all, real.  The investigation into the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, as well as the possibility of her killer's innocence, will keep you riveted.  If you're hesitant about listening to podcasts, Serial is for you.

Mystery Show / gimletmedia.com

Mystery Show / gimletmedia.com

10. Mystery Show

Fans of Serial will likely enjoy Mystery Show, too. The stories only last one episode, rather than an entire season, but you'll finish each one looking forward to the next installment.  Host Starlee Kine solves the weirdly intriguing mysteries of ordinary people.  Listening to Mystery Show will make you start to wonder about the mysteries in your own life.  It's the perfect listen for making breakfast and commuting to work on a rainy weekday morning. 

What is your morning routine like? Do you love a podcast that isn't listed here? Tell me about it in the comments below!