Productivity Protips: How to Harness the Negative Power of Failure To Reach Your Goals

Everyone should keep in mind the concept of “fail faster” at all times. You should always work with the concept of hoping to fail faster, as it’ll help you learn, evolve, and in the end, develop better products. Every idea envisioned is never without its set of flaws, and “fail faster” helps to reach your goal by trying various approaches and course-correcting along the way by getting rid of unproductive ideas and implementing newer and better ideas. This constant focus on action helps you to learn from your mistakes and gives you more experience while making sure that you do not repeat the same follies the second time around.

The concept of failing faster is built on the logic that no idea is objectively good or bad from the get-go, and sometimes even the wackiest of ideas turn out be bestsellers while the most logical of ideas turn out to be duds. A good example of this logic is the game Mario, whose high level premise is the fact that its plumber protagonist is high on drugs, or even the game Sonic, whose logic is an electric blue hedgehog wearing sneakers that can run with super speed. These ideas, while sound terrible and crazy at first, have a great execution, which has made them bestsellers in their respective genres. This execution is only possible due to the fact that these ideas have been iterated over and over again until its flaws have been removed with the help of the fail faster mantra.

Any plan is better than no plan at all, as it gives a direction and lets you improve it over a time period. Even though your plan may be unsuccessful at the end, it gives you valuable insights on where you went wrong and helps you to avoid those mistakes the second time around making your idea better. Many teams decide on an idea by getting stuck on the pre-planned phase, and not starting until they feel that the idea they have come upon is the best one. But ultimately, as every idea has its own flaws, their idea starts showing its flaws too, which makes them to work on correcting it instead of iterating on a prototype. This may lead to a huge waste of manpower and energy if you try to create “the perfect idea”. It may lead to the project either failing in the market or not releasing at all.

Even if you have an incomplete project that’s half-baked, start by making a rough sketch of your project and hand it over to people to get their honest opinions on the same. The more opinions you get, the more it helps you to iterate the plan and make it better and finally to a point where it would make an awesome product. It is essential that you fail during the start of the project as it would give you more room for correction as well as more time, both of which are crucial for a project’s success or failure. Make sure you have a prototype as soon as possible in order to iterate on it and improve on its flaws. The prototype should be as quick and dirty as possible, and should focus on the core deliverable from the product. Last but not the least, failing faster helps you go beyond your egos and ideas and gives you a more pragmatic look at the project.

Important Takeaways: Failing faster means, quite overtly, failing as fast as you can — you’ll be able to course correct and save a lot of energy and money in the process. Failing doesn’t always have to have a negative connotation. Keep in mind, every failure is an opportunity for success and the sooner you fail, the better you have a chance of getting back on the right track. Look at failure as one of the pit stops on your journey towards success, and you’ll learn a lot faster.

GameDev Protips: Five Simple Techniques That Will Legitimately Skyrocket Your Productivity

There can be a huge difference between being busy and being productive, so how can we shift our business into productivity? Here are a few techniques that will assist the effort to do so, but keep in mind that these won’t be catch-alls; if one doesn’t work for you personally, try something else.

First off, try using the Pomodoro technique. The concept is simple, really, and is something you’ve likely seen before in some fashion. The concept is to simply break your work day into specific time boxes, whilst throwing in breaks between each of those blocks. The traditional approach is to work for 25 minutes with 5-minute breaks, repeat a few times, then have a longer break, but anything goes as long as it fits your schedule. The key here is to be disciplined to not cheat the system; it won’t do you any good if you just say “I’ll wait 5 more minutes” or “I’ll just play one more game” every time your break is about to end.

Secondly, consider making a S.M.A.R.T. to-do list. What does S.M.A.R.T. stand? It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-related. For example, you may have a list item that says “Finish creating and implementing the weapon shot sound effect before noon.” This is good. Saying “make some progress on the next weapon” is not quite.

Third, use a streaking system. This is a system you often see in mobile games today, most recognizable in the form of a daily login bonus that becomes better the longer you go without breaking the streak. The idea is to simply come up with a goal, mark a date on the calendar that you wish to have this goal realized, then use the chain of days between now and that date to motivate you. It sounds silly, but for whatever reason, we seem to find these streaks to be easier to follow and even satisfying to follow, as you’ve probably noticed from those previously mentioned login bonuses. Try it out!

Fourth, use the power of triaging to get things done. This technique is intended to give you something you can focus on and thus effectively spend your time. The technique, summarized briefly, is to collect what has your attention, process what it means, put it where it belongs, review it frequently, and finally, simply do whatever needs to be done. Creating and continually re-evaluating a todo list, sorting by priority and time sensitivity is a great way to make sure that more important tasks get done first, followed by less time-sensitive ones.

Finally, you can look towards creating a truly actionable list by breaking down large tasks into chunks. The idea is that for every interaction, you should be assigning an action. For example, if you’re working on a game, for every potential task you might need to get to finish the game, you should be making a list of actions you will need to take to actually pursue those tasks. Having a list of things to do that you can simply start doing at any given point will definitely help motivate your will to work; if you just need to follow your list, you don’t have to bother with the stress of figuring out what needs to be done that can often shut down your productivity before you’ve even started.

In the end, there is no perfect technique to instantly boost your productivity, but the above are certainly strong possibilities. If they aren’t working for you, try to view them more as frameworks and then you can add your own twists to the frameworks. Once you find something that works, it’s just a matter of sticking to it and iterating on the process.

Important Takeaways: There are lots of techniques that can be used to boost a developer’s productivity. Pomodoro techniques help you avoid burning out on the work that you’re doing. S.M.A.R.T. to-do lists make sure that you have very clearly defined goals that are easy to follow, thus making it easier to start being productive. Breaking down large tasks into smaller chunks is great as well, and is something to focus on which will catalyze your productivity. There is no perfect productivity technique, however, so if none of these work, use them as frameworks and twist them in your own way until they do. Once you’ve found a working technique, you just have to stick with it and you’ll see the results!

GameDev Protips: Five Simple Techniques That Will Legitimately Skyrocket Your Productivity

There can be a huge difference between being busy and being productive, so how can we shift our business into productivity? Here are a few techniques that will assist the effort to do so, but keep in mind that these won’t be catch-alls; if one doesn’t work for you personally, try something else.

First off, try using the Pomodoro technique. The concept is simple, really, and is something you’ve likely seen before in some fashion. The concept is to simply break your work day into specific time boxes, whilst throwing in breaks between each of those blocks. The traditional approach is to work for 25 minutes with 5-minute breaks, repeat a few times, then have a longer break, but anything goes as long as it fits your schedule. The key here is to be disciplined to not cheat the system; it won’t do you any good if you just say “I’ll wait 5 more minutes” or “I’ll just play one more game” every time your break is about to end.

Secondly, consider making a S.M.A.R.T. to-do list. What does S.M.A.R.T. stand? It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-related. For example, you may have a list item that says “Finish creating and implementing the weapon shot sound effect before noon.” This is good. Saying “make some progress on the next weapon” is not quite.

Third, use a streaking system. This is a system you often see in mobile games today, most recognizable in the form of a daily login bonus that becomes better the longer you go without breaking the streak. The idea is to simply come up with a goal, mark a date on the calendar that you wish to have this goal realized, then use the chain of days between now and that date to motivate you. It sounds silly, but for whatever reason, we seem to find these streaks to be easier to follow and even satisfying to follow, as you’ve probably noticed from those previously mentioned login bonuses. Try it out!

Fourth, use the power of triaging to get things done. This technique is intended to give you something you can focus on and thus effectively spend your time. The technique, summarized briefly, is to collect what has your attention, process what it means, put it where it belongs, review it frequently, and finally, simply do whatever needs to be done. Creating and continually re-evaluating a todo list, sorting by priority and time sensitivity is a great way to make sure that more important tasks get done first, followed by less time-sensitive ones.

Finally, you can look towards creating a truly actionable list by breaking down large tasks into chunks. The idea is that for every interaction, you should be assigning an action. For example, if you’re working on a game, for every potential task you might need to get to finish the game, you should be making a list of actions you will need to take to actually pursue those tasks. Having a list of things to do that you can simply start doing at any given point will definitely help motivate your will to work; if you just need to follow your list, you don’t have to bother with the stress of figuring out what needs to be done that can often shut down your productivity before you’ve even started.

In the end, there is no perfect technique to instantly boost your productivity, but the above is certainly strong possibilities. If they aren’t working for you, try to view them more as frameworks and then you can add your own twists to the frameworks. Once you find something that works, it’s just a matter of sticking to it and iterating on the process.

Important Takeaways: There are lots of techniques that can be used to boost a developer’s productivity. Pomodoro techniques help you avoid burning out on the work that you’re doing. S.M.A.R.T. to-do lists make sure that you have very clearly defined goals that are easy to follow, thus making it easier to start being productive. Breaking down large tasks into smaller chunks is great as well, and is something to focus on which will catalyze your productivity. There is no perfect productivity technique, however, so if none of these work, use them as frameworks and twist them in your own way until they do. Once you’ve found a working technique, you just have to stick with it and you’ll see the results!

GameDev Protips: How to Stay Consistently Motivated In Order To Finish Your Indie Game

Even the best and most seasoned indie developers will fail miserably if their motivation is lacking. A person’s motivation is one of the most important factors in their work quality and efficiency. Without motivation, ideas become generic and the game’s design may be just “acceptable” at best. A lack of motivation indicates a lack of care, which may directly lead to the catastrophic failure of the indie game. As should be obvious now, keeping this motivation up is important for your game’s success, and there are several ways to do so, which I’ll briefly go over below.

One of the easiest ways to make your game development workflow easier is to break your tasks up into smaller tasks. At least in my case, I’d definitely be intimidated by a worklist saying “create an epic game.” It just so happens that if you break that task down into creating game mechanics, art, music, or other parts of the creation process, then break those tasks down into even smaller tasks, the entire project looks much more manageable. You’ll never finish your game if you try to tackle the entire project at once, and finishing even one game will put you leagues ahead of other developers who may trip over the very first hurdle.

Another way to help keep your motivation up is to simply not be motivated. While this sounds oxymoronic, there is a good reason to say this; I mean that on some days you should purposefully avoid working on the project. Nothing will kill your motivation more quickly than repetitive, boring tasks and getting sick of your job. If you don’t break up your workload, you’ll lose the motivation to work on it before you’ve made any significant progress. Feel free to take a day off and relax so that your work doesn’t become a grind. Of course, make sure you have the discipline to come back to the project or your entire development time was a complete waste. Another potential solution to the repetitive tasks is to simply vary what you’re working on so that you can feel accomplishment that will motivate you. As long as you leave each section in a state in which you immediately know what needs to be done, you’ll be alright.

Some people take a bite-sized approach to this strategy and instead just assign specific time frames for their work. Instead of having multiple full days of work, some people prefer having a full week of half days of work, or some other time difference. This can help people who don’t have the discipline to return to their project after a break and can also make you feel like you’re doing more work than you actually are; taking days off can make you feel lazy and cause you to push yourself too hard when you return, reversing the benefits of the break. In addition to simply not working on the project, delegating specific tasks to certain days can help as well. If you have days where you would normally have a relatively large amount of free time, assigning yourself tasks that require lots of focus will help keep your workload bearable. If you keep having to deal with these incredibly intensive tasks on already busy days, you might quickly be exhausted and lose your motivation to work.

Sometimes us developers have a problem with burning ourselves out, but sometimes the opposite is true; sometimes developers have the most trouble actually beginning their day. We already mentioned breaking tasks up, but sometimes that just isn’t enough. My favorite way of dealing with this is purposefully leaving a task unfinished. Since the task is unfinished, you can immediately start back up on it tomorrow instead of coming to work with no idea what needs to be done. This helps ensure that your work is proceeding at a consistent rate.

If you’re just feeling lost in general, go back to your “why” to put you back on track. Ensure you know exactly what you’re doing, and what your goals are. When it comes to code, make sure that you completely decode your design then refine that design or accompanying models to make your guide easier to understand in the future; failure to do so will just lead to more confusion later on that will be even more frustrating. Any frustration that comes from a lack of understanding is simply a disconnect between what your code is supposed to do and what it actually does, so visiting references to verify your existing code can help solve this problem. Remember to keep your code as maintainable as possible — the more bloated your code gets, the harder it is to stay motivated further down the line, as the smallest changes can force a mountain of work upon you.

The games that I personally make are labors of love. The goal isn’t primarily for economic gain, but rather emotional gain and personal satisfaction. I made my games solely because I wanted them to exist. If this does happen to be your primary motivation for making your game, staying motivated will be significantly easier. Throughout development you will receive support from various members of the community and you will push yourself harder to not let them down by not releasing the game, further motivating yourself to cross the finish line.

Important Takeaways: A lack of motivation leads to a lack of work, so it’s important to keep that motivation high. Making your task less daunting by breaking each big task into several small ones will help you push through until the end without feeling an overwhelming urge to give up after trying to tackle too much at once. Breaks, be it full days or sections of every day, will break up the monotony of some tasks in game development and replenish lost motivation that would otherwise come as a result. This can also be done through varying your task selection on a regular basis. If your main trouble is just beginning your day’s work, try leaving tasks purposefully unfinished so that you can immediately pick up where you left off on the next day and not have to think about what’s left.

If you’re being frustrated and losing motivation because of it, make sure you understand exactly what you’re doing, and if you don’t you should take the time to clarify that. Fixing your own references by refining them will make this method easier and easier as time goes on. Finally, the strongest motivator is also the one that cannot be utilized willingly: genuine passion for the game. If your primary focus is the quality of the game rather than the potential economic benefits it brings, you will be much more likely to push through hard times and make that indie game development dream come true.

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.

Productivity Protips: How To Make Your Workday More Rewarding

Because of the various metrics worth considering in work choice, people often have conflicting mindsets for what makes work worthwhile. Obviously, there are many different concepts that have to be combined to create a rewarding career. In my opinion, however, the most important by far is long-term progression. A workday with no progression will be a one that quickly ruins your motivation to actually work. There are a few ways of approaching the problem of long-term progression in the work environment, and I’ll tackle them below.

The first, and most obvious, is having more content variety, or diversification of daily tasks, no matter how slight. If you don’t have to do the same thing over and over, you will be more likely to maintain your desire to keep working. As long as there is any kind of difference this category is covered, including having different objectives or different people involved with your surroundings. Giving slight variety may only extend your motivation for so long, however, so more intensive methods must be used for a truly long-term commitment.

Secondly, work that has enough depth and potential for skill growth can keep the player’s attention even if the basic daily tasks are a bit repetitive. In a career such as professional sports, players constantly get better in a competitive environment. As a player gets better their decision-making will be affected and cause events to play out differently, injecting needed lifespan into your work. You can reinforce this behavior by having a competitive environment of some kind or having satisfying things occur if you perform better. An example of a system like this is the common “Employee of the Month” type awards that motivate employees to work at a higher level.

Finally, you must have some kind of progression system built into your workday. Fill your workday with achievable milestones. Treat yourself to a nice lunch somewhere that you haven’t gone before, or pack something different to the office. These ensure that there’s a constant stream of new experiences. These alone might not guarantee that you’ll stay focused though; you have to make sure that you know that there are new experiences ahead. Plan something nice for yourself and actively look forward to it. If your work is highly skill-intensive, measure your skill in some way and make goals that push you towards improving even further. As a general rule, it’s important for you to have current and available progress visualized so that goals are recognizable as achievable. If progress towards a goal seems too far away there’s a good chance that motivation will be lost.

Important Takeaways: There are many elements in considering what makes work worthwhile, but my personal opinion is that long-term progression is key. Without progression, repetitiveness will kill anyone’s motivation to work. There are a few ways to fix this: adding more content variety, having the potential for skill growth, and having your own personal progression system built into your workday. When there’s more variety in your daily tasks, things won’t feel as repetitive. Offering skill growth gives a reason to keep working other than just paying the bills as is evident in competitive sports. Giving yourself your own progression system helps make you feel good about your progress when you most need it, such as having lunch at a fancy restaurant because you finished your project a few days before the deadline. If the only goals you have are extremely long-term, motivation will likely be lost as your perception of progress may be imperceptible.