GameDev Protips: How To Be A Billion Times More Productive

Despite having lofty goals and dreams of fame and fortune in the realm of indie game development, there is so much to do and so little time to do it. Unfortunately, most of us lack superhuman powers, meaning that our physical and psychological capabilities are limited. Having limitations can be quite discouraging and if you find yourself constantly running into them, you might want to give up on your dreams. However, there are ways to overcome your flaws and limits in order to unlock your true potential. Now, if you do happen to have superhuman abilities, please feel free to skip to stop reading right here.

Okay, so one of the most important keys to reaching your potential is to keep focused. Without focus, it is impossible to get much done, as you will be distracted and unable to focus your full attention on any given task. “But I can multitask!”, you might exclaim indignantly. “I multitask every day!” However, humans without superpowers are not capable of multitasking well. What is actually happening is that you are constantly shifting attention between various tasks. Doing so causes stress and exhaustion and will prevent your brain from working at maximum efficiency.

The human inability to multitask is best illustrated by attempting to perform two activities which require a large amount of cognitive resources. It is impossible to check Facebook and get your work done at the same time, or talk on the phone while attempting to code some kind of complex algorithm. I mean, let’s take for example, your phone. This device is available to most people and can be a huge distraction. How many times have you stopped working to check what notification made a sound on your phone? However, smartphones and other electronic devices can definitely help your productivity as well by providing reminders and allowing you to save things you would otherwise not remember. What defines whether electronics will help or hinder you lies entirely within your mindset. In order to focus, you must fully commit yourself to any given task.

“But I’m super busy. I have tons of things to do. I’d never get anything done without multitasking!” The key is not to pay attention to only one thing but to pay attention to one thing at a time. Before allowing yourself to check your texts, or browsing facebook for a bit, assign yourself a task and tell yourself that you have to finish it before doing anything else. It doesn’t have to be a major project; it can be a small task, so long as it has a clearly defined goal. Don’t allow anything to distract you as long as that task is left unfinished. By doing this, you can provide your full attention to whatever it is that you’re doing. When you’re finished the task you’ve assigned for yourself, you can go do something minor, like check your emails. Once you’ve done that and you’re ready to get back to work, assign yourself another task and only do something else when you’ve finished.

Also, it’s important remember to give yourself breaks from time to time. You have a finite reserve of willpower and you won’t be able to work as effectively if you deplete it. Staying focused can be very difficult and if you don’t give yourself enough breaks from whatever it is that you’re doing and you run the risk of burning out entirely. As noted above, the amount of willpower you have is finite. You only have so many psychological resources that you can dedicate to any given task. If you spend too much time forcing yourself to get things done, you will have less energy for other tasks later. For example, if you want to actually finish your indie game, you can consciously force yourself to work extensively on it every single day. However, after a certain period of time, your self-discipline will give way, or you will grow weary of that game’s development, and you will subsequently stop.

A good way to maintain certain behaviors is to develop habits. For example, brushing your teeth in the morning is a habit (or at least it’s a habit you should have). You don’t force yourself to brush your teeth every morning, or exert any willpower in doing so; you simply do so out of habit. For a new activity, such as forcing yourself to work on your game project, instead of telling yourself or forcing yourself to develop it, tie it to an activity you already do, such as brushing your teeth. If you put your development sessions after waking up and brushing your teeth, after a while, your brain picks up on the cue of seeing your toothbrush and you’ll start developing your game afterwards without thinking too much about it. By turning your work into routine habit, you will be able to find the strength to stick with your goals.

Many people believe that hard work will guarantee them success. But we’re not meant to be successful at everything. It’s easy to become overwhelmed or disheartened when we encounter setbacks or failure. Frequently, failure can come as a surprise, especially if you have not accepted your flaws and limitations. To better understand yourself and your capabilities, you need to know what makes you great. Make a list of things you’re good at and then make a list of things you’d like to become better at. Consider what steps you need to take in order to develop these skills and abilities. Also, consider whether or not these skills will contribute towards your long term goals. While doing this takes time and a significant amount of insight into your own strengths and weaknesses, it will also help you invest your time wisely. It’s important that you invest your time wisely because we only have so much of it. You should be directing your efforts at things which really matter to you. “But how do I know what interests me? How do I know what I’m really good at? What kind of indie game should I make?” you might ask. These are great questions to ask, and should be considered carefully. In this case, it can be helpful to get some input from others as well. Ask people such as your friends, colleagues, teachers, and career counselors about where your strengths and weaknesses lie. They can provide valuable insight if you’re having trouble figuring things out.

While none of us are the best at everything, it is important to try as hard as you can. If you aim to be the best at every single thing you do, you’ll inevitably be rewarded for your efforts. While it can be difficult to get recognition for your work at times, sooner or later someone will notice and they’ll admire your diligence.Having a daring and industrious mindset is a major key to success. History is replete with examples of people becoming highly successful despite starting out in very modest surroundings. Google is a very good example of a company which has become successful despite its humble origins. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had the fortitude and commitment to break away from academia and the corporate ladder and founded a company on their own. This can happen only when you bypass the regular system and begin to work towards goals that you have set for yourself. Although it can be risky and difficult, it can also be highly rewarding, not just because you might become rich or famous, but because you did so through your own merits and hard work.

We spend most of our lives on a path constrained mostly by societal pressure. Most of our effort is wasted on tasks others expect us to do. However, it is important to learn how reject these societal pressures and learn how to follow your dreams if you intend to truly thrive. You need to be firm, ignore potential distractions, and just focus on doing the work that matters. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old; all that matters is that you are passionate and able to commit your time, skills, and experience towards what you love to do. Ignoring society’s expectations can be difficult and it does require a lot of courage to stand up and defend your dreams. What’s most important is to spend time on the right things. Don’t wait for permission, and know when you have to say ‘no’ to outside pressures. You will be amazed at what you can achieve. Who knows, you might actually end up creating the next big indie game hit.

Important Takeaways: We have a limited amount of time and resources to work on what we want to achieve. It is important for us to learn to overcome any flaws or limitations in our lives so that we can spend as much of our time and resources as possible doing things that actually matter to us… such as creating a truly good indie game that sells enough copies for us to continue developing games. Perhaps one of the most important steps to this is staying focused on work and eliminating distractions, as anything that is splitting our attention is also splitting our work efficiency. You can always check those distractions after you have completed some significant task, and this way you’re not splitting your attention; this isn’t about only worrying about one thing, but rather only worrying about one thing at a time. Oxymoronically, you have to give yourself frequent breaks to be able to work as efficiently as possible. If you burn yourself out doing something, your work efficiency becomes much, much worse. Similarly, make sure you’re not just forcing yourself to do something. This will also contribute to that burn out and make your work less efficient. One way of stopping something from feeling forced is to develop a habit out of it by tying it into your daily routine.

In order to properly prioritize where you’re putting your time, develop a list of things that you’re good at doing and things you’d like to improve on trying to do. Knowing about the contents of this list will help you decide what is most important to you and allow you to allocate your time accordingly. One of the most important tips in working your best and spending your time wisely, however, is simply trying your hardest at everything you do. Having good time allocation doesn’t matter if you’re not trying to do anything, and work will never be efficient if you aren’t actually trying to work. Trying hard inevitably results in rewards somewhere down the line, so you may as well prepare for those rewards now instead of missing your opportunity. Whatever you’re doing, though, make sure it’s actually something you care about. For example, if you’re making an indie game, ensure that it’s something that you legitimately want to make — not just something that you hope will make you a ton of money. If you’re not doing something that you’re passionate about, stop doing it. That’s a difficult request and will require lots of courage, but you’re only spending your time well when you’re following what you truly care about. Optimize your time by focusing on what matters to you at the exclusion of all other distractions.