As I'm writing this, it's Monday. It used to be one of the most stressful days of the week, it even affected the day before (Sundays) when the piles of work, deadlines, and pressure started to kick in. For the past year, I've been teaching my self to stop doing this and find ways to have more fun while working. And it seems like I've actually managed to get some progress! Here are my tips what I've done:
The first thing I've started to do when I established my small game company was that I kept on trying to do all the same things as I would do in a medium/big company. Social media, sales, marketing, game development, blog writing, create tutorials, sell uDemy content, teach in schools, help young game developers, consult startup game studios/companies, run a family of three kids, spend quality time with friends/family, exercise and REPEAT!
You don't need to be a planning mastermind to see, that it's impossible to do all this. You could do it for a week, or maybe two or in some extreme cases a couple of weeks. But in the end, you will start burning out. Burnout is not a single night thing, it sneaks into your life slowly, but steadily.
Unfortunately, running a company does include a lot of (different) work you just have to manage. For some parts, you can always hire someone to help out, but most likely you have a very strict budget to keep an eye of. So how can you get all the necessary done?
If you decide to work alone (or in a small team) you need to consider the size and amount of things you actually want to focus on, and what type of consequences do you expect to happen with these actions? Just by running around, doing a lot of stuff at the same time (and everything a little) will most likely not only burn you out but also have nothing done within a long time. That's basically because you've spread your time and energy on a hundred things and got all forward by, let's say that one percent.
My workdays are five to seven hours long. I spend good amount of time to plan my coming week on Mondays, so I could use every day hours as efficient as possible. In the end, this SAVES TIME a lot, rather than running around blindly for hours each day. I have a plan, what I want to try out and I have my own evaluation, what these actions may bring back. Of course, in many cases, this evaluation proves to be wrong, but at least I had an idea of what I should do and why.
By planning, you save time. Keep the plans simple to follow so when the time comes, you can use the time for actual working, rather than trying to figure out what to do, how and how long are you supposed to spend time with it?
With a good plan, you're also able to identify when your work is actually complete and maybe even get a feeling of "I got stuff done today" at the end. Without a plan or goal for each day, it's easy to either keep on working for very long hours or lose the feeling of "success" because you always leave something "uncomplete" when ending the day.
When Friday (or the day which you've set as the end of the week) arrives, you can look back at your plans and see that you actually achieved most, or maybe even all of the goals which you've set for the week. With that feeling, you're super energized to hop into the weekend and take some time off from everything. With that time off, you're more pumped up for the next week!
For me, I always skipped exercise, since I thought that I don't have time for it. It felt like my days are so booked, that hitting the gym, walk/run or such is impossible. After the workday, I got so exhausted, that exercising was not an option. This is a never-ending circle to step into.
You're exhausted because of lack of exercise, but with exercise you would not be that exhausted. When I realized how much energy exercise gives, it becomes a no-brainer to schedule 20-60 minutes of exercise for each workday. I tend to do this in the morning to kick off the day, or after lunch to skip the paralysis after eating.
I noticed that in the morning, I tend to spend that 20-60 minutes by just staring at a wall, or something similar to wake up. That's the perfect time to force yourself outside and go for a walk. It awakens you to a whole new level, to get stuff done during the day.
You don't have to go for a 'blood-sweat-tears' -type of training. Just casual walk around the neighborhood is enough.
DO NOT AIM FOR PERFECTION, AIM FOR "JUST ABOVE ENOUGH"
What does everyone expect from you? The first fact for an entrepreneur and independent game developer is that they expect nothing from you. They expect to never hear from you and you are basically thin air for the world.
This is the most awesome places to be in. You can basically try out different stuff without the pressure of "losing your crowd" or making your brand appear in "bad light" and such. You're 100% free. (Just don't do anything illegal)
When you create something, you most likely want to make it as awesome as possible. Making awesome stuff takes time and in some cases, it takes way too much of time. Always plan your project that it is possible (in theory) to be developed within a short period of time. If you bite too big of a chunk, you will never get it done and end up losing the motivation along the way.
At first, projects should be so small that you're able to create those before you lose interest. When you learn, you're more ready to scale up and create bigger games. Start small and build up from there! Even though you read this tip here, you will most likely still start too big of a project, but I'm telling you: This is the NUMBER ONE reason for almost all of the developers to fail.
Build your perfect dream game after shipping multiple smaller games, then go for the big prize!
Alright, I have to cut this here. It would be awesome to keep on going with this post but I guess this is enough for a single post. Thank you very much for reading!
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