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19 Mar 2015

Beginning Indie Developer? Use These Productivity Tips To Start Strong

As a beginning indie developer, one of your biggest challenges isn’t necessarily how difficult it is to finally finish your first indie game. Rather, it’s how to stay on-task while working from your home office (or wherever you typically work). It’s simple to stick to a scheduled list of tasks while working at a traditional job: mainly because you are forced to adhere to your employer’s schedule. While working on your own? There is no safety net: you’re on your own. At first, it’s easy to get behind on your work and dually difficult to stay productive.

That’s why we’re here today.

Below are a few productivity tips – many of which I’ve learned while working from home – and they definitely work. Implement these tips into your work life, and your work weeks will suddenly flow much better.

Begin your day with ‘prep work’

Every morning, I set aside about 30-minutes to an hour to prepare for the day’s work. This include responding to emails, perhaps paying a freelancer, outlining my daily tasks, etc. It’s important to set aside this time, too: otherwise, it’s going to creep into your daily routine and you’re going to be behind before you even get started in the morning.

How much time do you usually prepare before you actually begin working on your indie game? Perhaps you need to schedule your daily tweets to market your indie studio, or maybe you need to assign certain tasks to outsourced contractors before beginning. Whatever the case may be, begin work an extra hour early and prepare for the day’s work. That way, you can start on time, every time.

For every task, have a plan

You may have a certain set of tasks that you want to complete every day – but that isn’t enough. Inc.com says:

“There is always a most efficient series of steps for each project. To save effort and time, we must identify what that series is and follow it.”

Think about the best way to complete certain tasks. Which way is the easiest, and which method seems to give you the most difficulties? Do the same task (or the same type of task) a few different ways to see which method works the best for you.

Track time

It’s crazy how much time we waste every day if we are not careful. If you find yourself having trouble staying on task and focusing, you need to consider tracking your time. There is actually a tool for doing this called Toggl that allows you to track how much time you spend on doing anything! It’s a great way to see how much time you are actually spending on certain tasks, so consider using it if you find yourself procrastinating too easily.

Another method to stay on task is to set a timer to go off every 10-minutes. Sure, it will get annoying after the first hour, but it’s one of the most useful ways I’ve found to stay focused. Once the alarm goes off, use it as a reminder to get back to work!

Turn off notifications (when applicable)

If you are having an extremely difficult time staying productive, Entrepreneur.com states that turning off notifications on your desktop and mobile devices is one of the best things you can do for yourself:

“Don’t let applications interrupt your concentration with annoying popup messages. Shut them off. Now.”

Especially whenever I have a bunch of tasks to complete in a short span of time, I do this trick and it works wonders. It’s amazing how much work you can complete whenever your mobile devices are not notifying you of irrelevant information every five minutes.

Take breaks

Of course, staying productive also means knowing when to take a break. You may think that you can work for hours without any sort of break – but you’re wrong. Take a 5-minute break every hour to allow yourself to stay focused throughout the day. Trust me, it’ll work wonders for your productivity.

Learn how to be flexible

The most important tip of all? Learn how to be flexible. Whenever a task suddenly becomes complicated or a wrench is thrown into your workday plans, learn how to bounce back from this, stay productive, and still finish your work. Owning and operating your own indie studio means knowing how to react on-the-fly and make the right choices; learn how to do that, and there’s nothing that can stop you from staying productive!

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