Sorry for the lack of posts. I might have a post stuck in me, or I might just be getting lazy, or might not be thinking enough; hard to say. Maybe I’ll get unstuck over the holidays. Anyways, I present another banal application of lean to everyday life:

Using my mad queue-management skillz, I’ve finally gotten caught up on my podcast listening: for every podcast that I regularly listen to, I now have either no or less than one week’s worth of episodes of any podcast, and have been in that blessed state for about a month by now. It doesn’t hurt that, since changing to the Menlo Park office, my new commute is a bit longer, especially going home – grr 101 grr – but I was heading in that direction even before the office move. In fact, some days, I don’t have any podcasts stored up to listen to, which leaves me at a bit of a loss. Especially with the holidays coming up, when some podcasters have the nerve to take a bit of time off.

Which means that I should find more podcasts to listen to, right? No! (This is how you can tell that I have mad queue-management skillz.) You see, I know about the virtues of maintaining a bit of slack in the schedule. I’ve reached a level where I can predictably listen to all of my podcasts almost every week – some episodes might stick around for two weeks, if a bunch of podcasts that publish on irregular averaging-to-about-once-a-month schedules all happen to arrive at about the same time, but it doesn’t get any worse than that. But I’m not too far away from my listening capacity; and, once I edge up to that capacity, my response time will go through the roof. I’m at that state on my magazine subscriptions, and it isn’t pretty – who knows when I’ll get around to reading those saved up NYRSF issues? And bye bye Granta subscription. So I don’t want that to happen with podcasts, and for all I know the next podcast could turn out to be one too many.

To be completely honest, that wouldn’t be the end of the world – I could occasionally delete an episode without listening to it, if my queue got bad. But that’s just not the way my psychology works: I’m a completist at heart. Also, I like the podcasts I’m listening to now, and I don’t want to delete any episodes of them. And they’re a nice mix: a little more than half music, of various sorts, but also several interesting non-music ones. At the very least, now that I’ve gotten my queue well under control, it’s time to re-evaluate the situation, and see if adding more podcasts is the best thing to do with the gaps that are opening up in my listening schedule.

And I’m pretty sure it’s not. If we think of this in terms of competing queues, then I’ve gotten the highest-priority queue in this area under control. But doing so makes me aware of two other queues that I can now consider dealing with in the same area. Namely:

  • Listening to music that isn’t from podcasts. The Naxos classical music podcast is an incredibly effective advertising tool: something like a third of the episodes make me want to go out and buy the album in question. I’ve gotten other interesting music suggestions from other podcasts, too, and I wouldn’t mind going back and listening to some of my CD collection again.
  • JapanesePod101. You see, I lied above when I said that I’d caught up on all of my podcasts: I’ve caught up on all but one, but on that one I’m 9 months behind. Which wouldn’t be too bad if they published once a month, but since they publish every day, I have my work cut out for me. I am consistently managing to not fall further behind on it now, but I would like to eat into the backlog. And it’s a really good podcast, so worth spending some effort on. I am a bit worried about burning out, but I have enough experience with (effectively) force-feeding myself knowledge in the past that I think I’ll be able to catch the warning signs before things get too bad.

So: one queue under control, two other queues revealed. All good fun, no? In fact, I think I’ll attack one of them right now by ordering a CD to listen to. (Update: no, I’ll break my lean vow and order two CDs. But one’s an EP, and they’re not available from Amazon, so it’s a bit easier for me to batch the order.)

If only queues at work were getting under control so well. Actually, several are, but there are two that are bedeviling me right now. I hope that we’ll make some progress on those during January…

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