Building in a buffer, in real life (More on Rule #5: Create a backup slot)

The Best of Both Worlds podcast began in August of 2017. Since then, my co-host Sarah and I have released an episode every single Tuesday. We’ve kept that schedule even though both of us have had babies since then, Sarah has been evacuated for a hurricane, we’ve dealt with various illnesses (us and our kids), and Sarah was working full-time for many of those years.

I feel like I’m inviting lightning to strike here, but so far it’s been a pretty good run of it!

This has been possible for a few reasons. One — there are two of us. If one person is out of commission for a while the other can run things.

But second, and this is equally important, we work ahead. There is always a buffer of shows in the hopper,* either recorded already or planned. If something goes awry, we can deplete this stock before we run into trouble.

This is a version of Tranquility by Tuesday Rule #5: Create a backup slot (which the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge is focusing on this week). If we were recording Monday for a Tuesday release, we’d have a problem if anything went wrong on Monday. Record Monday for a release three Tuesdays from now and you’re in much better shape. This works even better if you have times you generally preserve for recording. If it can’t happen one week it can happen the next.

We relied on that extra space this week. People who read TheSHUBox know that Sarah has had a particularly crunched schedule of late. She ran a swift half marathon this last weekend, and in addition to running 13.1 miles in the humid Florida sun, she also hosted a large number of 9-year-olds for a video game truck birthday party, and then covered President’s Day with her kids.

We were scheduled to record two episodes on Tuesday morning (splitting the prep as we often do: I was doing the notes for one, and she was doing the notes for another). Then I started getting somewhat worried messages over the weekend that she was going to have to do the notes Monday, and then on Monday that they would have to come at night (when I know my lark co-host does not love working).

At which pointed I noted that, wait! We didn’t have to record both episodes. We could simply record one episode on Tuesday and record the other the next week and be slightly less ahead than we already were. So that is what we did. As she texted me, “This is my back-up slot moment! You can post about it.” Followed by: “Back-up slot is legit!”

It absolutely is. Perhaps something is lost in being non-spontaneous with our recordings. We did wind up re-recording a few episodes at the beginning of the pandemic when we realized, in mid-March 2020, that our advice on getting kids out the door in the morning wasn’t going to be useful when no one was going anywhere. But we’re not a particularly news-oriented show. So for the most part it works. No one can plan on a world where nothing goes wrong (or time-consumingly right, in the case of new babies!). But by building in space for life to happen, you can keep doing something fairly reliably for a really long time.

*Pretty sure I am mixing metaphors here

In other news: The Best of Both Worlds Patreon community had a great discussion yesterday about our February book club pick, This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch. We’ll be reading Gretchen Rubin’s Life in Five Senses for our May pick. You can join the community here.

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