It’s one of the most common questions we’re asked here at The Podcast Host. “How to I find time to podcast?”
Although there’s no magic button or one-size-fits-all answer, there are certain things you can do to create a little more time for yourself. Often, though, you’ll find you actually do have enough time to podcast – you just need to learn to make better use of it.
In this article we’re going to take a look at ways to both free up time, and be more productive within it.
How Much Time Do I Need?
The very first thing we need to establish is how much time it actually takes to run a podcast.
Colin’s article dives pretty deep into answering this question, based on the type of show you want to create, and how frequently you want to release episodes.
There’s also a rough estimation commonly talked about in podcasting where you can multiply your episode length by four to determine how long it will take to make from start to finish. This means a 15 minute episode would take roughly one hour, a half hour episode would take roughly two hours, and so on.
That’s a key thing to keep in mind here – the bulk of the time isn’t in the recording. The average podcast process will look a bit like this…
- Planning & Preparation
- Setting up
- Editing & Mixing
- Writing Shownotes
- Uploading & Publishing
You can add to that too if you’re arranging interviews or agreeing on times with co-hosts. The point here is that we can’t base how long we’ll need on our episode lengths alone.
Once you have a better idea of how much time you need, we can start to look at how much time you have. Given that you’re reading this post it probably isn’t very much at all – so let’s look at some of the ways we can create a bit more of it.
This is the part nobody likes to hear, but there will probably be a small list of things you can cut or eliminate from your daily schedule.
Everyone is different, but start by looking at how long each evening you might spend watching TV or playing video games. I’m certainly not an advocate of having no downtime, in fact I think that’s counter productive. But if one hour of TV per night can become half an hour, you’ve already gained two and a half hours between Monday and Friday.
It might not be necessary to cut out Game of Thrones or Fallout 4 at all though.
If you’re someone who subconsciously scrolls through social media newsfeeds 40 times a day, then you can certainly carve some time out of this. You’ll immediately think that 40 is a wild exaggeration, but it isn’t.
Make a point of counting the amount of times in one day you look at Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. There are plenty free screentime tracking apps you can use for this.
You might argue here that this is all a minute here and two minutes there, brief gaps in your daily routine that can’t be saved up for one hour of unbroken hour of work. Whilst this is true, if you have access to your phone, there’s always something you can be doing for your podcast.
Create a note or document and start planning your next episode with bullet points. Start writing your show notes and chip away at them, as and when you get time. Approach potential guests and schedule interviews. Read and research articles for content.
Whatever you do, just cut down on the cat videos. Unless you’re running a cat video podcast, that is.
If you set your alarm half an hour early each weekday, that’s another extra two and a half hours per week. Wake up, do what you need to do, make yourself a coffee, and do some editing/mixing.
Of all the jobs on your agenda, this is the perfect time for editing. Even if you did feel like recording in the morning, there’s a good chance your house might be too noisy with everyone else getting ready. You’ll also probably have access to your desk, mouse, and favourite headphones.
Knowing you have exactly 20 or 25 minutes to edit is good for setting goals and targets too. You might not get an entire episode done in a morning, but you can just save your session and return to it the following day.
This has become a popular method of podcasting over the last couple of years. Batching means that you’re blocking out a set amount of time to record and produce multiple episodes at once. A famous example of batching is John Lee Dumas, host of Entrepreneur on Fire. John puts out episodes 7 days a week but he records and produces everything on a Tuesday.
Batching eliminates the time it takes to prepare and set up for recording for individual episodes. It’s unlikely that you’ll be putting out episodes any more frequently than on a weekly basis. Even with a weekly show you can block out a few hours each month to record and/or produce that month’s episodes.
Batching can be challenging, especially in the early days. Your energy levels will drop after your first episode, so don’t bite off more than you can chew.
If you sound tired and lax, your podcast will suffer from it.
Many hands make light work, as the old saying goes. If you’re struggling for time, it’s worth asking yourself if there’s anyone out there who you might be able to collaborate with, or bring on board as your partner.
The starting point here is deciding what part of making your podcast you enjoy the least. If you really struggle with the recording part, can you bring in a co-host? If it’s the editing, is there someone you know who might like to lend a hand on that front? Or, if like most podcasters, you really dread writing your show notes, do you know any aspiring writers who can do them for you?
Have a think about your niche, the topic you’re podcasting about. Are there any blogs out there who might be worth approaching to see if there’s the opportunity to collaborate or join forces?
Whilst collaborations and joint efforts can bring great results, there are a few pitfalls too. In the early stages it’s important to clarify the ownership of any project (i.e. is it a straight 50/50 split?), and clearly define each person’s roles and expectations.
Make sure you both know where you stand, and exactly who is responsible for what. This can save a lot of mess further down the line, especially if there’s money involved.
Proactive vs Reactive
A lot of time is wasted when you go through life reacting to things instead of planning your schedule.
A brilliant, in-depth analysis of this can be found in Tim Ferris’s book The Four Hour Work Week, but I will summarise one of his key points here.
E-mail and other smartphone-based communications can suck up your time and distract you from the things you’ve set out to achieve on a daily basis. Get rid of (or customise) apps that ping you every time someone gets in touch, and instead set two specific times of the day to check and respond to everything in that session.
When you’re not constantly on-call to the needs of others, you can plan in time to work on your own projects. As we’ve covered already, making maximum use of the time you have is key, and that means being organised with systems and planning in place for all of your tasks.
There are a couple of great tools out there for this. The first is Trello, which is a project management website/app. You can create project boards on Trello where team members can see exactly what needs done, when it needs done, and who’s job it is.
With that said, it’s every bit as effective if you work alone, and you’ll gradually find yourself managing your entire life on there.
The second tool is Doodle, which can come in handy if you run an interview show. Doodle let’s you create a calendar-based poll where participants can click time periods where they are and aren’t available.
When you’re no longer sending multiple emails back and forward trying to agree on a date and time, there are a lot more productive things you can be working on for your podcast.
Busy vs Productive
Here’s an exercise you can start immediately; document every task you carry out on a daily basis and ask yourself “does this really matter?”.
Many of the things you do might make you feel like you’re being productive and getting things done, but they aren’t actually leading anywhere.
For an in-depth look at this pespective, I’d recommend you read The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan.
Think about how you can cut all the unnecessary clutter from your schedule – and work smarter, rather than harder, in every essential task that you do.
Finally, learn to say No.
This isn’t a tactic designed to upset or offend anyone. It’s simply a case of getting into the habit of defending your own time.
Of course you won’t and can’t say No all the time, but there will be many instances where it’s perfectly reasonable to apologise to someone and let them know that that you simply don’t have time at the moment.
If you don’t look after and respect your own time, nobody else will, and you’ll quickly find your days being eaten up by other people’s goals and agendas rather than working towards your own.
Need More Help?
Hopefully there’s something in this article that you can use to create or make better use of your podcasting time.
Obviously everyone is different, and we all have our own unique circumstances. Some of the suggestions above may not be entirely relevant or possible to you, but there will be others that are.
And if you’re looking to really knuckle down and get things done then check out Colin’s productivity course Boss Yourself. There, you’ll learn about the systems, processes, and tools that can be used to make real progress with your podcast!