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22 Sep 2014

Implementing the ‘Guilt Hour’ Into Your Indie Studio

We all hate Mondays. It’s the day that signifies the weekend is over and it’s time to get back to work, and it’s the day that also reminds you that you have your whole work week ahead of you. It has a bad reputation, and it was the inspiration for last Monday’s post on how indie developers can avoid the ‘case of the Mondays’ syndrome. One of our readers commented on the post that very same day about how Monday is their most important days of the week as they meet and discuss the week ahead, which caused me to realize something: it should be the most important day of the week.

Furthermore, it caused me to wonder if there is usually another reason why we hate Mondays so much, and it dawned on me: there’s usually something during the week that we don’t want to do, but we know that as soon as Monday rolls around, that signifies that the unwanted task is on the horizon. We’ve all finished tasks we hated, but once they are out of the way? We feel great and are actually glad that we did the task.

A weight is listed off our shoulders, and we actually feel a bit refreshed.

I did a little searching and found a great post by Nick Jehlen of The Action Mill, and he gave an awesome tip on what he calls the ‘guilt hour.’ The best part? It can be implemented into your indie studio. Especially if you have Monday meetings to discuss the week ahead like the reader I mentioned above, using the guilt hour is a great way for your team to discuss the tasks they want to do the least and make certain those tasks are done and completed. According to Jehlen, here’s how it works:

“…We sit together and look at our tasks lists,” says Jehlen. “We take 2-3 minutes to identify the one thing that we feel most guilty about not having done yet. Then we go around the table and name our One Guilty Task, and commit to spending the rest of Guilt Hour working on it. That’s it: declare it, do it, move on.”

Jehlen also states that, “no one is allowed to judge you on the task you choose. You’re expected to do the opposite: if someone names something you could help them accomplish, you volunteer to assist with their Guilty Task right away. Taking on someone else’s Guilty Task is considered one of the highest achievements in Guilt Hour. Generally, when you pass a Guilty Task to another person, the guilt that has been preventing it from getting done doesn’t get passed along.”

Jehlen believes that feeling guilty is a waste of energy, and by ensuring no one is feeling guilty about the tasks they have ignored – essentially eliminating work-related guilt from the workplace altogether – then everybody wins. Plus, it’s a huge boost for morale as people get to feel good about helping one another out and the tasks people loathed doing are now off their shoulders.

In a nutshell, that’s the ‘Guilt Hour:’ taking a few moments per week to discuss with one another the tasks you want to do the least. It sounds kind of counter-productive at first, but Jehlen states that after a few months of using the Guilt Hour approach, his team actually had problems coming up with guilty tasks since they had all been done!

“But we stick with it,” says Jehlen. “Worst case scenario is we all go back to doing something useful. Taking five minutes a week to ensure that none of us is wasting time feeling guilty is well worth it. By 11am every Wednesday, and usually a lot sooner, our whole team is feeling a lot less stuck.”

For indie studios that have at least a few team members (whether you outsource or have employees in-house), this productivity trick sounds invaluable. By eliminating at a facet that actually causes employees to come to work every morning, I have a suspicion that morale, productivity, and work quality could potentially skyrocket.

Do you have any questions about Jehlen’s awesome ‘Guilt Hour’ trick? Do you currently implement a version of this trick? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: The Action Mill

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