10 Podcasts To Download If You Have A Short Attention Span

by Mia Mercado
Originally Published: 
Woman with headphones over her neck sitting on the desk with note book, laptop and work

There is a podcast for most every occasion. Taking a road trip? There are plenty of podcasts perfect for long commutes. Need a pick-me-up? Why not check out some podcasts to help start your day off right. Don’t have a lot of time or patience or much of an attention span? Fear not, there are even short podcasts to keep your attention that are just a play button away.

If you’re in a podcast rut, finding a new series to listen to can be tricky. There are more minutes of podcasts available than any of us know what to do with. There's a nearly equal number of podcast round-up lists telling you which podcasts to listen to if you’re feeling anxious or stressed or burnt out. I mean, hi hello, you’re reading one of them right now. (Meta Podcast List is meta.) One easy way to find a new podcast that you’ll likely be into is to look into the podcast network of some of your favorite podcasts. Love Las Culturistas? You’ll probably be into more of the Forever Dog comedy podcasts. Missing 2 Dope Queens? See what other podcasts WNYC has to offer. Chances are if they produced one podcast you like, they’ve produced another one that’ll be up your alley.

If you’re short on time and attention span — and honestly, who isn’t? How many times have you checked your phone while reading this piece? — and looking for something brief, here are 10 podcasts with episodes that tend to run under 20 minutes.


The Daily

Put on by the New York Times, The Daily gives you digestible, up-to-date news in just 20 minutes a day. Rather than inundating you with clip after clip after infuriating clip, The Daily gives you the information you need to know to stay informed and features some experts that can help you figure out what the hell is even going on.

Episode to start with: Want to get caught up on the impeachment hearings? The Daily’s “A Public Hearing, and a Feud Over Ukraine” has you covered.


Planet Money

NPR’s Planet Money is the economics class you wish you had in high school. (Plus, no exams.) Each episode dives into a facet of the economy — usually, something you didn’t even think of as having any kind of financial impact — and shows you how it has a greater impact on the world.

Episode to start with: In honor of the forthcoming holiday, check out this recent nine-minute episode, “The Great Cranberry Scare of 1959.”



Hosted by Tobin Low and Kathy Tu, WNYC’s Nancy is an honest, heartfelt conversation about being queer. Each episode, which often features a special guest, will make you laugh, cry, and immediately want to share it with someone you know.

Episode to start with: This 2018 episode where Bowen Yang talks about Grey’s Anatomy is the 24-minute-long primer on Asian representation you need.


A Very Fatal Murder

Produced by The Onion, A Very Fatal Murder is a send-up of the true-crime podcasts you know and love. From parody ad reads to the episode titles themselves, it will be your exact cup of tea if your tea is “comedy plus murder podcasts.”

Episode to start with: Since it’s serialized, you’ll want to start with the first episode “A Perfect Murder”, which will have you hooked in 13 minutes.



If you’ve also been thinking about The Parent Trap since the 1998 remake, Lindsay: A Radio Play is the Lohan fanfic you seek.

Episode to start with: Because it’s a fictional story, you’ll want to start at the beginning: “One Goddamn Name”.


10 Things That Scare Me

As the title suggests, 10 Things That Scare Me is a podcast about people’s greatest fears. It’s sometimes silly. It’s often serious. Each episode is also super short.

Episode to start with: Check out Tobin Low’s episode after you’ve listened to the podcast Nancy.


Song Exploder

If you miss VH1’s Behind the Music or find yourself clicking on the annotations on, Song Exploder was made for you. Each episode is a deep-dive into a song featuring the artist who created it.

Episode to start with: Either find an artist you love in their archives or just start with “Honey” by Robyn


For A Bad Time Call

Perhaps the podcast description sums it up best: “For a Bad Time, Call... is a podcast dedicated to women's anger.” If you want to vicariously rant, scream, vent through someone else’s five-ish minute voicemail, this is the podcast you’re looking for.

Episode to start with: “Aaron Sorkin Wannabees”


Blank On Blank

If you love listening to people talk about things they’re passionate about...well, that describes just about every podcast. If you want to listen to famous people talk about things you probably haven’t heard them talk about before, Blank On Blank is exactly that.

Episode to start with:Temple Grandin on Search Engines


Happiness Spells

If you’re looking for a quick, easy way to unwind at the end of the day, Happiness Spells is essentially that in a podcast. Each five-ish minute episode features a brief list of “happy things,” recited calmly and softly to give you space to think, reflect, or just be.

Episode to start with: any episode with a title that intrigues you! Or “Give Yourself Room To Breath”

If you're still stuck on what to listen to, do a quick search with some things you know you're into. Like true crime? Maybe try some true-crime podcasts hosted by women. Do you long to pet the dog of every passerby? Congrats! There's even a podcast for that. The internet is your podcast-finding oyster.

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