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28 May 2015

Indie Dev Tips: Avoiding An Overworked Schedule

A reader commented on yesterday’s post asking us how to endure those long, working hours. You know the ones I’m talking about: those work schedules that seemingly force you to work ungodly hours. Whether you have to grind to meet a deadline or simply need to complete ‘X’ amount of work before a certain day, we’ve all been there.

But there’s a way to combat these dreadful work schedules.

Below is one of our indie dev tips that is simple by design, yet invaluable in ensuring that you will never have to pull triple-shifts again.

Plan Ahead

The good news about working for yourself is that you can usually see your workload coming well before deadline. Even so, there’s always those unfortunate incidents that crop up such as bugs plaguing your game (which sometimes forces you to fix said bugs before you can continue development) and gameplay setbacks that force you to back to the proverbial drawing board and plan again. You’re in an unpredictable field, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t plan for anything that comes your way.

The trick to planning ahead is to give yourself enough time to finish your tasks – then tack on some extra time! For example, if you give yourself enough time to finish certain tasks and you run into a problem with your game, chances are you are going to eventually fall behind. But by giving yourself extra time, you will have a cushion of time that will ensure that you still have enough time to finish your tasks even if you run into problems during development.

I suggest creating a work schedule that spans the entire life of your game’s development before the project begins, and dedicating one day a week to ‘extra time.’ Thus, if you run into a problem that takes up most of your day, you still have plenty of wiggle room to stay on track.

Obviously, game development isn’t this cut-and-dry. Some problems will be worse than others, but the schedule above is a great start to avoiding being overworked (which as you know, can lead to burnout).

Therefore, it’s important to…

Pace Yourself

Believe it or not, working at a break-neck speed to meet a deadline isn’t the best course of action (that’s how mistakes happen). To avoid your work being sloppy (and ensuring that you will have to correct as few mistakes as possible), it’s important that you pace yourself every single day. You’ll be amazed how quickly you will finish your work by working at a slower, steady pace. Don’t forget to take regular breaks either (last week’s Free Tool Friday can help you with that), as you need to ensure that you are able to pay as close attention as possible.

If All Else Fails…Outsource

If the tips above fail to lighten your workload, then you have too much work to handle on your own. When that happens, it’s time to outsource tasks to contractors. We suggest finding appropriate contractors the moment you begin to suspect that you’re going to have too much work on your hands in order to avoid being bogged down with work later down the road.

Do you have any questions or comments about avoiding an overworked schedule? Let us know in the comments below!

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