Podcasting In The Zone (Without Zoning Out)
Podcasting, like any craft, often feels best when you get in the zone. Call it focus if you like, but things just seem to flow better. Unless you get too focused and lose sight of the bigger picture.
I was in a zone yesterday. For seven hours I was deep inside of a zone working on my presentation for the Outlier Podcast Festival in Salt Lake City this weekend. I didn’t plan on working for seven hours. The time just flew by and I didn’t even notice it.
You probably know what I'm talking about. You're doing something deep inside of the zone, and you just sort of lose sight of the world around you. Any working podcaster knows this feeling. As a working podcaster who helps produce shows for 24 clients, some on a regular weekly basis and some on a more ad hoc basis, I rely on the zone to keep my head on straight.
If you also support lots of other podcasts, or perhaps just lots of different shows in your own network, it's important for you to try to work inside of the zone as much as you can, fighting all the distractions that come at you from all sides while you’re trying to work.
I sometimes wish podcasting were as simple as sitting down in front of a microphone and talking (and I certainly try to make it that simple for my clients). But you and I know that there's a lot more to podcasting than just talking into a microphone or editing an audio file. There are a lot of processes to process, and most people find that process happens best when you're inside of the zone.
The way I help myself get in that zone for all the clients that I work with is by structuring my work week. Today is Monday and I won't work on any client-based projects today. Probably. If I do, it's very limited: I’ll dip in dip out of conversations as needed, but today is the day I focus on the other aspects of running my business.
The next three days -- Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday -- will be dedicated to in the business stuff. That's my zone-time. That's when I have headphones on most of the day if I'm doing audio engineering work. That's when I'll be poring over spreadsheets and running through numbers. That's when I'm pulling different proposals and generally making sure that we can get all of the work done in time for our clients. That’s when I evaluate the tactics behind the strategies to make sure everything fits together.
That all happens in three very focused days to put me in that zone. Friday is kind of a free for all, where I sometimes work with new clients, sometimes soliciting new clients, and sometimes just taking some time to take care of me.
It’s smart to establish a zone like that for your own work. But exercise caution: getting too deeply into the zone can lead to a pathological condition. And if you’re podcasting just one thing, like you really just have a podcast instead of being more broadly focused on podcasting overall, it’s too easy to be locked into your zone. That makes you myopic: so focused on your thing that you lose sight of the larger world around you.
When you zone out, you lose sight of all the things that are happening in podcasting. You miss changing best practices. You don’t get to experience changes to formats that might make new opportunities for you.
Yes, you want to get into your podcasting zone. But not so far that you zone out.
This medium is moving fast! I did some really quick number-crunching last night for the presentation I'm prepping for the Outlier Podcast Festival in Salt Lake City and am a little shocked to quantify how much things have actually changed and how many brand new people are getting into the podcasting space. I’m still verifying the numbers, but I’ll share them in the future. For now, just trust me when I tell you the evidence is quite staggering.
But if you are so deeply into your own zone that you've zoned out and are doing the same things you’ve been doing since 2012, 2007, or even 2004... you might've missed more than one sweeping change to standards, changes to how you can produce your episodes better, or changes to what the new wave of podcast listeners expect from podcasters.
I just found out that Podcasting For Dummies, the book that I wrote back in 2005 with Tee Morris, is now about to go into its 4th edition. Chuck Tomasi, one of the authors of the 2nd and 3rd edition, told me that last week during our PHX Podcast Club meetup. They want to have a consult with me since podcasting in varied formats is my full-time focus. While I doubt my name will grace the spine of the book, I am excited that at least a flavor of me will inside of that new edition due out at the end of the year.
To recap: Make sure that you find a way to get into the zone so that you are more productive. But also make sure that you can break out of that zone from time to time to observe the wider universe around you. Because podcasting changes all of the time.
One change is that you can now rate podcasts very simply. All you have to do is go to RateThisPodcast.com/podpont, for example. It doesn't matter what app you use to listen to podcasts. It doesn't matter what device you use to listen to podcasts., It doesn’t matter whether you're on mobile or your laptop when you go to RateThisPodcast.com/podpont. Try it and see how easy it is to leave a rating for this show.
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I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.