Hey there, Gamers and Game Makers!
In this week's blog we're going to look at how to strike a good balance between the 9-5 commitments of everyday life and working on an indie game.
As some of you will know, I recently decided to return to college as a mature student to pursue my degree in Software Development. College at the best of times is quite the time consuming commitment which can leave you very tired at the end of a long day and if you're like me you have many other things you want to dedicate time to. So, how do you strike that balance between work and game development?
Well first off it's important to note that everyone is different and some of what works for me may not work for you.
My college day kicks off at 6am. This includes my morning routine before catching a bus commute to college to be there for a little after 8am. I don't really mind early mornings much and I tend to be pretty perked up in the morning. So when it comes to finding a balance between college and game dev, it comes down to simple time management. When I get to college just after 8am, I don't have a class until 9am. So I use that hour to work some design elements out on paper for my game which I can later test at home.
My days vary at college. One day will be pretty busy from 9am until 5pm while some will have breaks of up to 3 hours between classes. When I have a gap like that, I use it wisely to get on top of college assignments and stay ahead of my work. If I can get my assignments out of the way while still in college, it reduces the amount of college work I need to take home with me thus resulting in more time I can dedicate to my game dev work. When I get home at about 6pm, I'll go for a run and have dinner before I jump into doing a few hours of game dev work but I'm careful not to stay up late working on it. Otherwise I run the risk of burning out and all my work then suffers. It's important to remember your health comes first.
I'm lucky with my current college timetable as I have Wednesday's off which affords me time to not only stay on top of college work but also time to dedicate to my game dev work. A big part of making sure you use your time wisely is to keep to do lists. I end everyday with a new list of short tasks I aim to complete the next day.
It's also important to keep in mind that you are only working on your game in small bursts now and not to feel discouraged if you feel like it's not coming along fast enough. Don't look at the game as a whole that needs to be finished as soon as possible. Break it up into small milestones that you can hit every week and slightly larger ones that you can hit in a month. Don't feel bad if you miss a milestone. Life happens and what's important is that you keep at it.
Keep track of your day to day list. If you only get an hour in the evening, that's fine too. Focus on the priority task on your list and make as much headway with that as you can. I personally find I'm at my most productive with my game dev work in the evenings but some may find they work better if they get up an hour earlier and do some game dev work before starting the day. Everyone is different and you need to find what works for you. I'm only a couple of weeks into my college course and I'm still tweaking my routine to see how to best make use of my time.
As always I hope this has been of some help to folks and if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or get in touch by email.
Until next time!