Maverick Life


This week we’re listening to: Five minute podcasts, for the time-constrained listener

(Photo: Unsplash/Daniel Fontenele)

Whether you want to learn something new, prepare for the day or just relax, here are five podcasts that are about five minutes long to add to your streaming schedule.

Small Things Often

  • Format: Podcast series
  • Year: 2021
  • Listen on: Apple Podcasts or Spotify

Small Things Often, presented by The Gottman Institute, is the couples counsellor in audio form you never knew you needed.

Twice a week, the show presents a new tip for relationships and how it can be applied in everyday life.

While the show often directs the tips towards those in romantic partnerships, the advice can be applied to any type of relationship, as the values of mutual respect, love and communication that the show advocates for extend beyond romance.

The show is thorough and expertly researched, but presented with gentle ease. There is no judgement here, only a reminder that big changes often come from small, hopeful decisions.

“Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures and small acts,” the show’s website says.

The advice is also useful, working through possible solutions while still accepting that relationships are complex and take work. There is no one-size-fits-all, but everyone has to start somewhere.

One aspect that sticks, regardless of whether you are applying the podcast to your marriage, colleagues or friends, is that all feelings are valid – what matters is what you do next.


BirdNote Daily

  • Format: Podcast series
  • Year: 2021
  • Listen on: Spotify or the BirdNote website

You don’t have to be a die-hard ornithologist to appreciate this podcast; the birdsong that chimes throughout each episode will have you looking up, momentarily expecting to see fluttering wings above your head.

Every day, a new episode of this podcast is released, dedicated to a different bird. The series is clearly a labour of love, as its creators strive to connect humans to nature, so that their audience learns to “care about the natural world – and take steps to protect it”, the podcast says.

Each episode opens with the tweets of these winged creatures, which are then woven into narratives of their lives, habits and individual quirks. More than just pretty sounds, the show is as informative as it is peaceful, and after each clip has ended, the listener may just listen closer to the birdsong in their own lives. Learn where swallows go in winter, why the albatross is a graceful giant, how humans can better care for these feathered friends and more.

The series has cracked their podcast niche; the audio quality is so excellent you would think the birds were just outside your window, and the short format means anyone, regardless of your birding expertise, can enjoy each episode.


60-Second Science

Format: Podcast series

Year: 2021

Listen on: Spotify or the Scientific American website.

Forgive 60-Second Science for not actually being 60 seconds long, it is still a worthwhile listen, and most sit around the five-minute mark.

Produced by Scientific American, the show covers a new topic every week with “rapid reports from the world of science”. From the dinosaurs that lived millions of years ago in the Arctic right up to how Covid-19 booster shots work, and everything in between, 60-Second Science presents informative, well-researched episodes every time.

Whether you are already interested in the world of science or just want a new fact in your arsenal for the next dinner party, this show is the definition of “you learn something new every day”.

For those who want to dive deeper, Scientific American also produces Science Talk, “a podcast of longer-form audio experiments from Scientific American, from immersive sonic journeys into nature, to deep dives into research with leading experts”.



  • Format: Podcast series
  • Year: 2021
  • Listen on: Spotify or the TEDx website

If you find yourself drawn to TEDx talks but never seem to find the time to sit through one, this podcast series is for you.

TEDx SHORTS is a collection of excerpts from longer TEDx presentations, capturing a new thought or idea in every episode.

A good place to start is with South African singer and performer Kgomotso Matjele, also known as Tsoness, whose gentle but strong voice speaks to overcoming fear by allowing yourself to dream.

Though this podcast series often runs a little over five minutes, they all stay under the 10-minute mark, and it’s all the magic of TEDx condensed to fit a busy schedule.


Daily Quote

  • Format: Podcast series
  • Year: 2021
  • Listen on: Spotify

Produced by Parcast, Daily Quote is a feel-good podcast that should definitely be a part of your morning routine. Whether you listen as you get ready for work, brush your teeth or on your daily commute, it kick-starts your day with a little inspiration and even a fact or two you may not have known before.

The quote itself is often short and simple, and you could stop there, but for the next few minutes the narrator dives into the deeper meaning and wider context that the words exist in.

Every day, the listener is introduced to a new author, from cartoonists to athletes to poets and from various world views and experiences. Even if you don’t resonate with the words that day, there is still the opportunity to learn something new, even if it’s just about a person you had not heard of before. DM/ML


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