Routine — The Enemy of Enjoyment
I’ll get straight to it — the Connor Groel Sports podcast is on hiatus. It wasn’t around for too long, but I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish.
My audio documentary on the Cleveland Browns’ 2018 season remains one of my most ambitious projects, and one of my favorites. My weekly NFL podcasts for the first eight weeks of this season were a joy to record, as talking football with your friends should be. But that passion is gone.
I took a bye week during Week 9, hoping it would rekindle my spirits, but that wasn’t the case. I had another podcast series planned, but I think it’s best suited for another Medium. At the moment, there are no plans for future episodes of the podcast, although, as I’ll get into, I’m sure it will return at some point.
The end of my weekly NFL podcasts has me thinking about routine. I touched on this topic last month when I stopped my weekly NFL power rankings, but I wanted to go a little deeper here.
In general, I think routines are good things. They provide a certain level of familiarity and comfort to our lives and can spearhead positive change. Routines force action — anyone can say they’re going to start working out, but until you plan out when that will take place, and force yourself to stick to that schedule, it’s often just empty talk.
The same goes for just about every aspect of our lives. Even waking up at the same time every day can start us on the right track. Routines force productivity — we wouldn’t go to school or work every day if we gave ourselves a choice. In general, humans tend to avoid difficult things when they are optional.
In a creative context, routines are a great way to create consistent content. It can be difficult to generate ideas, but if you know you write your mailbag column on Saturdays, you can almost turn on auto-pilot and knock another edition out. This goes back to the idea of comfort. People create ongoing series because we know we can do them. You can be productive while staying relatively stress-free.
Plus, the start of a new series is always fun. No one would start them in the first place if they weren’t excited by the idea and looking forward to continuing over time. In my experience, though, that initial burst of motivation tends to run stale early.
More than anything, I think it’s because people need to feel like their building something. If view counts aren’t rising and money isn’t being made, stagnation sets in. The series, which was fun at first, turns into a job. It’s self-imposed labor. At best, it’s boring. At worst, it’s annoying.
That’s what happened to my NFL podcasts. If no one’s listening to them, why do them at all? At some point, it just stops being fun.
This week, I went against my better judgment and created a weekly sports stats of the week column. The first edition was fun to write, but how much longer can I keep it going? Time will tell, but I’m not optimistic.
I don’t know how some people do it. Anyone who can follow a routine for a long period of time has my respect. I suppose that for many content creators online, they do it because it’s their job. Even then, burnout rates are high.
If you do something long enough, the magic seems to go away. I guess I’m just switching things up.
Connor Groel is a writer who studies sport management at the University of Texas at Austin. He also serves as editor of the Top Level Sports publication on Medium, and the host of the Connor Groel Sports podcast. You can follow Connor on Medium, Facebook, and Twitter, and view his archives at toplevelsports.net.