Make it easy, sustainable, and consistent: Tim Ferriss and Chase Jarvis — Active Recall Sketched

Last year, I listened to this Tim Ferriss and Chase Jarvis interview. I originally listened to it on Tim Ferriss’s podcast, not realizing it was really from Tim Ferriss’s appearance on Chase Jarvis’s CreativeLive show. The day after listening to the episode, I started writing a daily post and continued to 100 days.

This year, I’ve spent weeks and weeks jumping around from different types of projects. I’ve finally gotten focused and am trying to make one podcast episode (with my friend Wally) and one sketchnotes video each week. I thought it’d be good to listen to this episode again and make sketchnotes about it.

What would this look like if it were easy?

Tim talks about starting his podcast and talking to other podcasters. He looked at patterns between them and had a focusing question: what would this look like if it were easy? People often quit podcasting because post-production takes so long. To avoid that, he decided his show would be long-form interviews with minimal editing. He’s gotten to over 200 episodes so that seems to be working.

When trying to post daily, I also put a lot of effort into making things easy. I automated a lot of things so that publishing was easy. Then I over-automated things and it got hard again. Eventually I moved things to WordPress to prioritize that idea of making things easy.

I started a podcast with a friend and we’ve made some choices to make it easy, like going long. We’re learning as we go along and are trying to figure out the right amount of outlining and planning. There’s a balance, because too much planning turns it into a not-easy thing. Too little planning makes recording sloppy and then post-production turns into a not-easy thing.

Is this harder than it needs to be?

Tim presents that question to identify things in your system that could be made easier. Those are the things that are harder than they need to be. Another reason podcasters quit podcasting is that the equipment setup creates too much friction to want to record new episodes. Lots of beginner tutorials suggest different mixers, digital recorders, audio editing programs, hosts.

It gets complicated. It can be harder than it needs to be. What did Tim focus on? Intelligible and loud enough. That’s it, because most people will listen through headphones while doing something else. Sure, you can have audio quality that’s unlistenable. Unlistenable is a very low bar that you can hop over with a USB mic (or even stock iPhone headphones) and Audible for software.

Nobody’s favorite podcast is their favorite because of audio quality.

Now that I have a decent process for podcasts, I’m really focusing on figuring out how to make these sketchnote videos easier. Using Procreate, I can make really engaging visuals but it can take a very long time. With Keynote I can record video but editing requires some back and forth. Now I’m using Notability and Screenflow. Things still aren’t quite easy, but I’m getting closer.

Some things should be hard

Tim’s hard work is in batching things. His first best-seller, The 4-Hour Work Week, popularized email batching. He batches podcasts also, doing 2-3 interviews on Monday and 2-3 interviews on Friday. They’re released weekly so that already gives him a month and a half of content. It’s sustainable and consistent.

I want my hard work to be learning to present thoughts clearly and improving at storytelling. The other things are unimportant and I can try my best to make them easy. That way I have more time to focus on the important hard things.

Sum up

Ask these two questions:

  • What would this look like if it were easy?
  • Am I making this harder than it needs to be?

They both go toward the same end: making things sustainable to create content consistently.

I made it to episode 4 of my podcast with Wally. This is episode 3 of the videos. I’ll make sure to ask those questions so I can get to episode 4, 5, and then 10 and 20.