If nominations for “busiest podcaster” or “most stressed out podcaster” awards opened, we’d all probably want one. Or a vacation from our podcast. But are these extremes healthy for us or our shows?
You want your podcast to be successful, don’t you? You want it to grow, don’t you? You want your episodes to reach as many people as they can, don’t you?
Of course you want those things. All podcasters want those things. Heck, I’d argue that all content creators want those very same things. And it’s those quite natural wants and desires that keep us focused on critical things.
Almost by definition, this puts us working podcasters in crisis mode. We’ve no time for fluff. We don’t have 20 years to carefully study and absorb all the context, theory, and nuances. We have things to get done, and we need to get them done right now.
We want the meat. We want plug-and-play solutions to move us from point A to point Z. We want to stand on the shoulders of giants who have come before. We want a checklist that tells us exactly which five boxes we need to tick to make a successful podcast. And we want it to work. Now, please.
If so, I’d wager that crisis-mode operating is your default mode. It’s likely how you approach most things in your professional life. And maybe even how you approach personal aspects of your life as well.
You Say Podcast/Life Balance Like It’s An Actual Thing
The solution to the inevitable burnout that comes from operating in full-time crisis mode? Take a break and get some downtime. That can be a simple as shutting off the studio computer when you’re done with the day or when you need to finally sleep. Or it might be less a frequent but longer break, like a vacation away from your podcast for a week. In my case, I take a much-needed two-month break — I call it my long winter’s nap — at the end of each year.
But what if I told you the scenario I just outlined is a false dichotomy? What if the difference between “working” and “not working” on your podcast wasn’t a binary choice? In reality, the extremes of sipping Mai Tai’s on a beach in Indonesia or working 12-hour days with back-to-back task lists are just that: extremes. There exists a wide spectrum of options in between.
The Middle Life Of A Happy Podcaster
Generally speaking, we’re happier podcasters when we occupy the middle ground between overwhelming business and complete relaxation. We happily vacillate between more or less of each throughout our days. Sure, some of us are much happier during the work-work-work moments. Just like some of us are much happier when we have more room to breathe and ruminate.
The trick is finding that healthy middle ground for us. That’s a tall order for those of us who were raised in a culture that rewards the “up and to the right!” business mentality. Speaking personally, I’m very good in a crisis. Blended with my natural tendency to procrastinate, I can often get done in an hour before a client meeting what I should have done days ago. Those habits have been reinforced over the 20+ years I’ve been in business ops and running digital agencies. In that world, there’s never a shortage of crises that need attention.
Finding the middle ground is probably hard for you as well, because you’re getting slammed on all sides with ideas on increasing the productivity of your podcasting efforts, ways to grow your podcast even bigger, and dozens of articles on ways to podcast better that you simply don’t have the time to read past the title.
And the other side isn’t quiet, either. Seminars, apps, newsletters, and more constantly come across the transom, imploring us to walk away for a bit, take a nap, make room for a passion project, or spend a couple of weeks alone in a cabin in the woods.
That sounds nice, doesn’t it?
But remember, this isn’t an either/or situation.
Finding Balance In A… Lamp?
I could come off like some low-rent self-help guru and tell you it’s about finding balance. And while that would be true, I’m not sure you need one more person regurgitating the same easy answer you already know. So instead, I’m going to tell you about the lamp on my desk.
I hate this lamp.
I mean, I genuinely do not like this lamp. It’s ugly. It doesn’t put out the right amount of light. It doesn’t fit with the vibe of the rest of the studio. It’s hard to turn it on without sorta flipping my hand over at a weird angle. Oh, and my wife hates it too.
I love nothing about this lamp, except for one thing: It works. It does the job I need it to do. Not very well, obviously. But well enough so that, given a list of all the things I have to do at any given unit of time to keep this podcast and the entire Simpler Media podcast consultancy running along, replacing this lamp is somewhere near the bottom of that list.
So occasionally, I go lamp shopping.
I’ve hated this lamp for a couple of years now. Yet in all that time, I haven’t bought a new one. That’s because replacing the lamp is not what’s important to me. What is important to me is that, occasionally, I go lamp shopping.
On average, I go lamp shopping a couple of times a week. Rarely (even before the pandemic) would I leave my house to do this lamp shopping. I shop online. Or I’ll see a lamp on a TV show and wonder how that lamp would work in my podcasting studio.
Yes, I know this sounds incredibly dumb. In fact, you may think it sounds like I’m using lamp-shopping as a way to take a break from podcasting.
You’d be wrong.
This lamp, hate it though I might, is a part of my podcast and podcasting business. If I didn’t have a lamp, I couldn’t do the show or do any business. I need light to see and to function. And this is the light source I have.
Clearly, the lamp itself is not super-critical to my podcast. I mean, my audience isn’t going to grow or shrink depending on what my lamp looks like. Clients aren’t going to flock to me or run away based on my decorative light fixture choices. I mean… it’s just a lamp, right? And in the grand scheme of things, the lamp is necessary, but not important.
For me, shopping for a new lamp for my studio gives me a break from the truly important things regarding my podcast and my podcast business without being completely trivial. Put another way, lamp shopping gives me perspective.
If you’re of the hyper-focused mindset, it’s probably hard for you to fathom why or how that activity gives me perspective. But I assure you it does. It’s permission to let my brain think differently for a bit. I’m still thinking about the process of podcasting or the podcasting business I’ve built. But it’s not thinking about the standard things that always occupy my brain when I’m working hard. It’s something that seems a lot less important because it is a lot less important.
Truth be told, I’m probably never going to replace this lamp. Much to my wife’s chagrin. The perspective I gain by having this “focused distraction” is far too valuable to be without. So if I do replace it, I’ll find something new to draw my attention from time to time so I keep my perspective and think about the unimportant parts of my podcasting business.
What’s your lamp? What unimportant-yet-necessary element in your podcasting process can you return to again and again when you need some perspective? I’d love to hear it. Go to BuyMeACoffee.com/EvoTerra and tell me what your lamp is. I’ll share your donation card with other working podcasters. Oh, and it’s a nice way for you to help keep the show afloat.
I’d also love for you to send one person a personal note where you tell them about Podcast Pontifications. Maybe they work too hard and are burning out. Or maybe they just need a fresh perspective. Turning them on to Podcast Pontifications is as easy as turning on a lamp. Yeah. I’m not proud I typed that either.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.
Originally published at https://podcastpontifications.com, where it started life as an episode of my four-times-a-week short-form podcast called, oddly enough, Podcast Pontifications. It’s a podcast for working podcasters that’s focused on trends in our growing industry and ideas on ways to make podcasting not just easier, but better. Yes, you should listen. Here’s an easy way: 👇
Evo Terra (hey, that’s me!) has been podcasting since 2004, is the author of Podcasting For Dummies and Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies, and is the CEO and founder of Simpler Media Productions, a strategic podcast consultancy working with businesses, brands, and professional service providers all around the world.