Here’s the thing about listening to podcasts, especially when you really start to get into a lot of different ones all at once: they take time. Now, most of us probably have an hour or two a day of busy-work-type tasks (eg driving, cleaning, making dinner, etc.) where listening to a podcast enhances the activity, but this time is limited, and beyond that you have to physically make time to listen to your favorite episodes, just as though you were bingeing a Netflix series. This, in my opinion, kind of defeats the purpose of one of the major advantages of podcasts--that you can do something else (usually a mindless task) while listening to them.
So how to make the most of that limited amount of time? My solution, which is built right into the iOS Podcast App, is to increase the listening speed of the podcast. It’s largely personal preference, but I gravitate to 1.5x listening speed, which I consider to be the sweet spot. For me, anything more than that and the problem becomes two-fold: it’s both too fast to keep up with, and the voices and production are distractingly distorted. But 1.5x is perfect. It’s not so fast that you can’t keep up with what’s going on, yet it’s fast enough that you still reap the benefits of an increased listening speed.
Think about it: by listening at 1.5x speed, you’re turning a 1-hour podcast into one that takes only 40 minutes to listen to! That’s 20 whole minutes that you’ve saved at no cost to you, and you can now listen to that many more podcasts. For me, a guy who listens to podcasts every chance I get, that’s a significant advantage such that it’s a no-brainer. It takes a little getting used to, but I promise, just give it some time and 1.5x speed will begin to sound like normal. The one caveat I’ll give is that this doesn’t work for podcasts where, for example, the subject matter is music-heavy (like Song Exploder), because the one place you’ll probably always notice even a little distortion caused by differences in speed is in listening to music. Otherwise, have at it.