The Separation of Work & Play

The concept of “work/life balance” is simple: you have equal time for work responsibilities and life responsibilities. You go to work and make money to pay for your bills and the enjoyment of life.

It’s one of those elusive, holy grail ideas that I’ve been chasing since I heard of it during my early twenties. A decade later and I’m nowhere closer to attaining this mythical goal. Does that make me a failure? That’s what I thought for a long time.

My thought process on what this idea of balance has shifted. Now it’s really about how I can separate work from play? See, I’ve been working in the podcast industry for two years with Blubrry and I’ve loved podcasts since I discovered my first one ten years ago. Sadly, I feel like I’ve lost my love of making podcasts because it’s now an extension of my job. I feel guilty when I don’t release a new episode. I’m jealous when I see friends supporting shows with similar content to what I was making.

How to I let work be work so I can enjoy podcasting as a hobby again?

My boss, Mike Dell, coincidentally, had this same feeling recently of guilt for not having new episodes regularly. He decided the best course of action was to cut out the podcasts that he wasn’t committed to making.

That’s the curse of podcasting: you start one and then you want to do another and another and so on. This is the world a lot of podcasters live in, as do I. Take a look at all of the shows I’ve done a minimum of one episode for:

  • Geek This
  • The Cape Gauntlet
  • David/Dave Lives Here / Slightly Obnoxious, Strongly Sarcastic
  • RPG with Me / Friendlies & Fantasy
  • Because We Said

… and I’m not even sure that’s all of them. Also, I still have ideas for new podcasts I want to do! They all live in my head most days and I spend time figuring out new episodes for most of them. It’s exhausting at times.

What’s a guy to do?

The easy answer is similar to Mike’s: cut out what you’re not committed to. The hard part is letting things go. In some way, shape, or form, most of the shows mean something to me.

Geek This was the first show I made; The Cape Gauntlet was a test of endurance and research; SOSS was my “get it off my chest” outlet; Friendlies was a connection with my daughters through storytelling; Because We Said was a connection with my wife through advice-giving and question-asking.

They’re all parts of me and it’s like cutting off a body part simply because you can’t see it or don’t understand how to use it. Maybe that’s too dramatic of a metaphor? In the end, though, it’s hard to lay things to rest or send them out to sea. It needs to be done, though. There’s no use in expending energy on things I (a) have no desire to be consistent with or (b) have no passion about. Bear with me as I sort this out in the paragraphs that follow.

Off the bat, looking at this list of shows, I can say The Cape Gauntlet is an exhausting show from a research standpoint. Tracking the history of superhero comic books takes a lot of time, considering I have to determine what are considered key stories or defining moments. The easy part is understanding what will make a season of the podcast. I find the idea very appealing, but I don’t always want to spend the time to read and research. Maybe it should go.

Geek This is the oldest show I’ve done, dating back to late 2012. This is the hard one. I’m still passionate about the show and the subject matter, but what I miss is making it with someone. Running a solo show like that 100% on my own has been incredibly difficult. It’s been harder now that I work from home and most of my interaction with human beings is with customers on the phone or co-workers via Slack. Those conversations are hardly ever about pop culture. If I can’t get someone to commit to recording with me once a week or every other week, maybe it needs to be shut down for good?

Friendlies & Fantasy feels like a lost cause. It’s a lot of work to develop a story for a role-playing game when (a) I’ve never even played – which will be remedied soon, I hope – and (b) kids have short attention spans. There’s no gray area here, regardless of how much I love the name and concept. It needs to go dormant until I know what I’m doing with it.

Slightly Obnoxious, Strongly Sarcastic needs to stay. I need an outlet for talking about things on my mind. The good thing is that I’m not making it for anyone but myself and I don’t care if anyone ever listens to it. Maybe it will benefit someone else, but that’s not the point.

Because We Said will always be nagging at the back of my brain. Wendie and I love making the show and have said over and over again that we need to simply make the time for it. We love the conversations we have and it isn’t filtered, really. It’s an honest expression of who we are, what we believe, and questions that come with being an adult, parent, child, and friend. Part of the tag line is, “exploring relationships” and that’s what I love about it. I’m exploring the relationship I have with my wife and our kids as we talk. I really think our marriage has deepened and our perspective on parenting has changed because of this show. It needs to stay and we need to be real about staying consistent.

So that’s it. I’ve publicly walked through my mind palace and decided what shows I need to forget about. Or I’ve at least leaned in one way or another.

If you’ve listened to my shows, I’d love to know what your thoughts are. What shows did you enjoy listening to? Do you have a show you absolutely want me to continue or one that should drop off the face of the earth? Let me know in the comments of this post or on Twitter.

Job Research & Whatnot

An excerpt. Where could this show up?

Having been full-time at Blubrry Podcasting for three months now and overall for two years has been a real joy. Part of that job is chatting with customers, new and old, which can be a great experience. It can also be a challenging experience when they’re running into problems you haven’t run into before.

That’s where research comes into play. This episode is part of that for me. It’s a look at how show notes appear in different podcast apps. Considering there are quite a few of them out there, it’s hard to help some customers, depending on the app they’re using and on what device.

In addition to the apps out there, those who use the PowerPress plugin for WordPress (60,000+ installs as of this post) may have a little rougher of an experience because WordPress themes also control some of the formatting of posts in the end.

This is an experiment we’ve been needing to do from the support side of things for a while, but I haven’t given it time within my day-to-day. I guess I’m doing that now, right?

Let’s dig into what my current settings are with this post, shall we?

The Theme I’m Using

My theme is Twenty-Sixteen. It’s one of the default, vanilla themes that comes with any new WordPress installation. You can find it in their repository at https://wordpress.org/themes/twentysixteen/ if you like what you’re seeing on my site, which is located at https://mrdaveclements.com.

The reason I use a vanilla theme is because I will spend way too much damn time playing with the look and feel of the site instead of writing or creating new podcast episodes. Maybe it’s a little bit of obsessive-compulsive disorder?

The Editor I’m Using

When I began using WordPress years ago, there was only the Classic Editor. Sure, there are other editors – most of which are included in a page-builder plugin like Divi – but I generally would use the Classic Editor due to its simplicity. Right now, however, I’m using their Gutenberg Editor.

If I’m honest, this isn’t my favorite editor, but I do like how it breaks things into their own easy-to-edit chunks. I can change something into a header or a quote or a paragraph by hovering over an icon. This gives me some options on what I could change the formatting to. Not a bad deal, so I’ll stick with it.

Why I Like A Slimmed-Down Interface

Here are some reasons why my site is changing to a more vanilla-esque experience

  • I get distracted so, so easily while writing
  • I want to lean into a more simple aesthetic
  • I don’t want others getting distracted by everything else I would normally add to a site.
    • I want them to focus on my words

It’s pretty… um… simple, really.

What Else Should I Test?

As I’ve written this post, I’ve tried to implement as many formatting features as I could think of. If you’re a podcaster using the Blubrry PowerPress plugin and you’ve had some other issues with formatting I missed, please let me know. You can send an email to me directly at dave@blubrry.com so I can add to this post and run more tests. This will help the team at Blubrry create a better product and give better responses to support tickets about this problem.

Video Games & Storytelling

Wendie gifted me a PlayStation 4 for Christmas and I’m glad she did. Since then I’ve spent a fair amount of time playing various games and falling in love with storytelling all over again. Have you had this happen while playing video games or are you more interested in skipping those scenes in favor of simply beating the game?

That’s what I’m talking about in this episode of the newly-renamed… Slightly Obnoxious, Strongly Sarcastic! Yeah, it was time to move away from Dave Lives Here.

Thanks for listening.

I Restarted My Podcast

You’d think, working for a podcasting company that I would have all the time in the world to make all the podcasts I want. Sadly, that’s not the case… That doesn’t stop me from starting – or restarting – another one.

Yep. In addition to getting my blog up and running, I’m going to do my best to regularly release an audio journal. What will it contain? No idea. This podcast will be a playground for me. No specific topic outside of whatever is on my mind at the time. I believe cool kids call this a “generalist” podcast? (I’m far from a cool kid.)

If you subscribed, I have to say thanks and hang on, because I have no idea where this is going, so you don’t either!

Always starting over.

I’d like to believe I’m not crazy when it comes to stopping and starting online projects. From podcasts to blogs to portfolios, I find myself always starting over. This blog, for instance, is a good example of things I continue to futz with but never really finish. Surely there’s some kind of medical diagnosis for whatever this condition is…

As I begin with this site yet again, I find myself in a pattern of creation and destruction. I’ve owned this domain – mrdaveclements.com – for quite some time now, but it’s never been one thing. At the start, it was a portfolio for the design work I was doing in my free time and for friends. It then changed to a blog where I could ramble about every little thing that came to my mind. Most recently, it has become a sort of testing ground for my job.

These are all fine, I suppose, as I’m not running a business from this website and I’m not looking to gain any kind of notoriety from the paragraphs of prose here. Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder why I can’t let it be.

I’ve done this for as long as I remember. As a child I loved drawing and wanted to be a comic book artist. As a teenager I wanted to be a storyteller using my drawing abilities. As an older teenager, I looked to become a graphic designer. On and on I would change my mind and dabble in new projects – guitar, design, podcasts, Dungeons & Dragons, board games – the list of my interests is close to infinite. From the outside you might look at me and believe I’m not content. I would have to agree with you.

My contentedness is an odd thing. I look at the world thinking, “What can I do to make this better?” It’s not a philosophical or philanthropic thought, though. Oddly enough, it’s not necessarily a self-improvement point-of-view, either. Are you confused with how my mind works yet?

The best example of what I’m talking about is podcast cover art. Considering I’m a support tech for Blubrry full-time, I do see my fair share of artwork and there’s plenty of it that could use some help. During the day, if I see something particularly frightening, I’ll save the image to my desktop. Later, I’ll spend my personal time re-designing it. Once I’ve finished… I delete it.

I’ve performed this mindless feat for years now and it’s truly madness. Some would call it an exercise in design, but that’s not how I see it. It’s some form of insanity. It has to be, right?

This is the way my brain operates. Right now, as I’m typing the words you’re reading, all I want to do is close this tab and not save a single word. No particular reason, I just don’t feel like finishing it. Or maybe I want to re-write it because, in my mind, it doesn’t feel like something I need to waste time doing? Or no one will read it?

It all leads back to the beginning: I’m always starting over. Am I the embodiment of Groundhog Day? Possibly! I may never understand why I do the things I do, but that’s OK. It makes me who I am. Who cares if I never finish the piddly things?

Welcome to my world. Enjoy the site as I continue to build and re-build whatever it becomes. There will be many more blog posts, podcasts, and other randomness here for you to enjoy. I’ll try my best to keep from starting it all over again. Leave me a comment if there’s a particular thing I’ve made you’d like to see more of.