Measuring Podcasts and Other Things

Most days since December 21, 2019, I started the day by opening up a note on my phone and writing down the number of podcast episodes in my “unplayed” playlist. I started doing this because I had 180 podcast episodes to listen to, and I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t get back to that number. I needed to declare bankruptcy on some of them, and I figured I could easily set a goal to make sure that no matter what, I got 5 episodes off the list a day to not fall too far behind. I subscribe to about 50 shows, give or take, and that number went up quite a bit this year as I added pandemic podcasts. Most of these shows are weekly, but some have 2-3 episodes a week, or as many as 5 (though they are short in that case). So on an average week I would have 70 episodes–not hard to end up with 180 on the list. This year some podcasts stopped recording for awhile in March and April as they reconfigured, but then in many cases had even more shows as they added “quarantine” episodes that continued on and on. (The best show to come out as quarantine content has been Stay F. Homekins).

Meanwhile, as my March posts indicated, I was very worried about how I would get any work done. I had no idea in March when I wrote that last post how bad it would get and how hard it would be as I ended up having to unexpectedly solo parent while working full time in another city between July and and October, which corresponded with some of the larger projects I’ve had to do in a long time. I also measure my work time pretty thoroughly using RescueTime, so I have all the data for that. I decided to see how many “very productive” hours I ended up working each week through the same period. “Very productive” means “harder” or more focused work in that I’m not in a meeting or Outlook or something that is work, but perhaps merely “productive” or “neutral”. The news was so much better than I had pictured in my head–I actually got on average a couple of very productive hours per day, which again has many meetings and emails not counted.

I often listen to podcasts while I do that type of work, so I wondered if there would be any connection. There is not, I don’t think, but on both sides I think I got a little sense of sometimes measuring something doesn’t really help, and sometime you’re doing better than you think.