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20 Jun 2014

Staying Productive as an Indie Developer This Summer

The beginning of summer has officially begun here in the U.S. – though depending on where you are located, it has felt like summer for weeks. There’s something about the bright sun and warmer weather that makes you want to stop working and get outside to enjoy the fantastic weather. Especially if you’re like me and you are constantly looking outside at the beautiful weather while staying inside slaving away at your computer, it can become borderline torturous.

It can also kill your productivity. Even though the weather may be perfect, that isn’t an excuse to stop working and ignore the tasks at hand. Of course, that’s obviously easier said than done. Here are a few of the best ways to stay productive even though your brain is telling you to stop making games and get outside to enjoy the sunshine.


Easy solution: plan to enjoy the summertime

Life is unfortunately about compromising. Whereas you want to enjoy swimming or camping rather than developing your indie game, plan to do those things after you finish work. Make a goal to ‘work hard, then play hard,’ despite what your mind is telling you to do. I know: you would rather give into temptation now rather than doing the responsible thing and not working at the moment. Just tell yourself that you will finish your work on time and when you are supposed to work, and from there? You will enjoy the summer.


Summer can lead to procrastination

We all know that when you don’t want to work, you procrastinate. The same is said for whenever you want to enjoy the summer weather instead of working. By telling yourself that you will stay indoors, you will be much more susceptible to procrastinating and not staying on task. We’ve discussed in-depth about how to stay productive as an indie developer numerous times, so use the lessons found in these posts to keep procrastination out of your work schedule.


Take time to review your task list

Summer is the deadest time of the year. People are out enjoying the summer air (sorry to rub it in), important annual deadlines are usually not due until later in the year, and essentially, work kind of slows down a bit for most people.

But, you’re not most people. You’re an indie developer, and work unfortunately doesn’t slow down with the snap of your fingers. When some of your outsourced workers are away and taking it easy (and they will be), use this time to review your list of tasks for the year. You probably have a few goals in mind for the year (and if you don’t – then what are you doing?), so take the time to review them, see where you currently stand in your annual goals, and create an approach to tackle them.

Bouncing on that same idea, do your part to check all of the important email messages you have received in the last year. If you are like me, there is a pile of messages in your email account that is full of people wanting to get ahold of you, yet you haven’t had a chance to reply yet. If you have a few extra moments this summer (and you will), reply to all of them, discard the ones you need to get rid of, and bring your inbox down to 0.

I currently have 1,377 emails (all unfiltered) in my inbox at the moment – looks like I need to follow my own advice this summer.


Go mobile

I get it: eventually, your better half (and children if applicable) are going to tell you that you need to take a break and take it easy for the summer. They will want to go on a vacation and spend time away from the home, which is perfectly fine and understandable. Except there are instances in which if you cannot take time off you can’t really help it – even if you try! As a result, invest in a portable workstation that you can take with you anywhere. A good laptop, portable mouse, external hard drive for backup purposes, and more are the obvious investments, but beyond that, consider purchasing a wireless 4G USB adapter from your cell provider so you can have access to broadband Internet anywhere there is a 3G/4G signal (which is almost anywhere anymore).

That brings us to our next step…


If you must go on vacation, balance it

Look, if work needs to be done, it needs to be done. I understand it. But even so, you need an appropriate life and work balance all the same. If work cannot wait yet your family is getting impatient about going on vacation, wake up early in the morning/stay up late in the evening to finish tasks you normally would have done throughout the day. There’s nothing appealing about working extremely early and late, but if you have to, do it.

Just be sure you get enough sleep to enjoy your vacation with family and finish your work appropriately. Again, proper productivity plays a central role here, so if you need some tips, reference the links above.


Do you have any tips and tricks for staying productive during the summer? Any questions? Let us know in the comments below!

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