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30 Jan 2014

How to Improve the Quality of Your Work Life

Yesterday, I attempted to help indie devs to stay focused throughout their day-to-day work, and judging by the comments it helped a few of you guys. Although I covered the topic yesterday and have discussed how to stay productive in the past (you can find links to articles on staying productive via the link above), there were a few questions constantly on my mind after I wrote yesterday’s post:


“What can you do if you feel burnt out?”


Or to bring the big question into perspective, “what can you do to improve the quality of your life,” thus eliminating the risk of burn out? There are a few ways you can achieve this, and the following tips will help. And once you follow these tips? You’re going to be amazed by just how much the quality of your work life improves – and it’s going to happen fast!


Set a goal and reward yourself if met

Do you need to complete a certain goal within a few days, yet you simply don’t want to do it? Have you found that the more you think about completing the task, the more it hurts to think about? You know those types of tasks, right? Where you want to do them so little that they almost seem to physically hurt your head whenever you think about them?

Well, they have to be done, but you know that. So what can you do to eliminate the migraines to not only get the task finished, but actually make yourself want to do it? By rewarding yourself whenever you finish the goal. The bigger the task, the bigger the reward can be.

For example, there have been times when I’ve needed to finish a project and I wanted to finish certain tasks before I started on other work. Now I didn’t need to finish these tasks, but my work load would be a lot better if I did. It’s a lot harder to make yourself work on tasks that are not currently mandatory and actually enjoy it.

So what do I do? Depending on the size of the task and how quickly  I finish it, I reward myself properly. If it’s a task that keeps me up late at night for a few nights, I usually reward myself with a new video game or vinyl record. If it’s a task that I dread yet only takes a few hours of my time? I’ll take a lunch break early, eat something unhealthy yet delicious, or take the day off earlier than usual.

I’m amazed at how quickly my mood turns around when I set a goal like this and strive to meet it – even if the work is terribly boring or tedious. Does this make the work less tedious or boring? Absolutely not, but if I have something to strive for, it makes it bearable and keeps my mood positive.

And that’s the trick to making this tip work: you have to always make time to ‘pat yourself on the back’ and tell yourself ‘great job.’ Moreover, because we’re our worst critics, by giving yourself a ‘thattaboy’ and actually mean it, you’re going to feel great. And who knows? If you do this enough times, you may actually feel excited to work every morning and never feel at risk of burning out.


Positive affirmation

Read that last paragraph again. There are two things going on here that will also improve the quality of your work life (and again, your quality of life as a whole):


  1. You are thinking positively.
  2.  You are using the power of positive affirmation.


Pay attention to the last sentence in the first tip:


“If you do this enough times, you may actually feel excited to work every morning…”


That friends, is the power of positive affirmation.


It may sound quirky, but believe me, telling yourself positive things out loud (and thinking positive thoughts in general) will help your mood tremendously. For example, if you finish a task ahead of schedule, tell yourself that you are great at managing your time. If you thought of an awesome new game mechanic, prototyped it, and it makes your game even more amazing, tell yourself, “wow, how creative am I?”

Every chance you get, congratulate yourself when you do a great job. After all, you deserve being congratulated – even if no one is around to do it. You will find that you will want to work toward these self-congratulatory moments, and the compliments you give yourself? You will start to believe them – which is fine because they’re true and you have earned them.

It’s a little tip that works wonders, and you’ll be blown away how well it works.


Take care of yourself

This is a tip mentioned in one of my productivity posts, but it’s also one of the best ways to increase your quality of work life and keep yourself from feeling burnt out. Exercise when you have a chance, eat well, get enough sleep, take your vitamins, and visit the doctor regularly.

Take vacations often, and if you can’t afford to go somewhere a few times a year? Take off work, sit at home, and relax. Maybe it’s just me, but some of the most relaxing days of my life haven’t been in a log cabin or running around on the beach. Rather, they’ve been at home sitting in my gym shorts, catching up on a season of a favorite TV show, eating pizza, ice cream, and drinking Dr. Pepper all day.

Walk around a park, rock climb, go fishing, take a bicycle ride – whatever it takes to get out of  your work zone, free your mind, and just relax, you need to do it. It’s one of the best ways to take care of yourself, and personally, it’s rejuvenating.


What about you guys? Do you have any tips for improving the quality of your work life and fighting burn out? Let us know in the comments below!

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