I have realised that I’m easily entertained. I have a pile of CDs that I bought back in October but still haven’t got round to listening to. There are a couple of DVDs that I bought before Christmas that I still haven’t watched. And I’m struggling to play all the games I’ve bought in the past few months too.
What am I doing that means I have so little spare time? I would say that it’s all because I currently spend so much time commuting to work (generally around three hours per day, or two if I’m lucky). But my chief means of entertainment while travelling, listening to podcasts, has also been causing me undue hassle due to the rising backlog sitting in my iPod waiting to be listened to.
I guess it’s lucky that one of the biggest problems in my life just now is the fact that I have too much interesting and fun stuff to listen to. But I have genuinely found it a tricky balance to get right, and am trying out creative ways to organise my spare time more efficiently as a matter of priority.
Having too many podcasts to listen to has been the case for as long as I can remember. It’s a bit like having an RSS reader, and before you know it, you have subscribed to so many RSS feeds that you never get them all read. This is okay as long as you don’t let anything get too out-of-date before you get round to it.
However, the mild annoyance of having a huge backlog of podcasts became a major problem recently when, almost without noticing, I ended up being four or five weeks behind on almost every podcast I listen to. This became a major problem with the current affairs podcasts I listen to, particularly just after the General Election had taken place. They had almost all been rendered completely out of date!
So since the election I have been on a drive to listen to more podcasts, weed out the ones I don’t really like, and prioritise the more newsworthy ones. Before, I had around 260 podcast episodes downloaded but not yet listened to. Having unsubscribed from and deleted a few podcasts, I have got that number down to 170, where it seems to have stabilised.
It took me about a month to do it, but I have managed to catch up with all of the podcasts that I deem to be “current affairs”, and have even sub-divided this into high-priority and low-priority sub-categories. Apart from F1 podcasts (which have always been consumed fairly quickly), these are now listened to first.
Of the podcasts that are less centred around the news, I have split these into a ‘B’ and ‘C’ list. Bs are podcasts that either I really enjoy or I think I should listen to. Cs are podcasts that I have assigned the lowest priority to. I am on the verge of unsubscribing from some of these.
I start listening to these podcasts if there are no current affairs ones waiting, with one C being placed after every two or three Bs. Just now, the oldest of these is from way back on 2 April — ten weeks ago. It is certainly interesting to see whether or not I really miss listening to these podcasts.
It certainly feels like I have become a lot more organised, even though there are almost 40 hours’ worth of podcasts waiting to be listened to. And that is just in this list alone.
I haven’t even mentioned the comedy podcasts, which I listen to as part of a different routine. I listen to one Adam and Joe podcast per week (on a Monday, to cheer myself up, geddit?). Then during whatever bits of time I have on Monday or Tuesday I listen to Iain Lee or Barry from Watford. This is a huge backlog of its own, but because the Iain Lee ones are generally around 10 or 15 minutes long, it’s easy to squeeze them in here and there.
There is so much cheap (in fact, free) entertainment that there is simply too much interesting stuff to get through it all. I recently calculated that the amount of podcasts I was downloading amounted to 1½ hours of listening every day. No wonder I was struggling.
It is worth being a bit more discerning with how I spend my spare time. But it is always difficult to make the decision to stop listening to a particular podcast. I have been listening to some of these for three years now. But a bit like a favourite shirt that’s worn out, I’m not sure I can actually bring myself to chuck it out.