Designer Blog – Staying Focused and Productive

Designer Blog – Into the Black

Staying Focused and Productive

Easily the most challenging thing when it comes to game design (or any other task if we’re going to be honest) is staying focused and productive with your time. Every single day there are so many distractions that sidetrack me from writing, editing, testing, drawing .. doing anything that I actually should be doing really!

The list is long too; Social Media (Damn you facebook and twitter!), Youtube, Gaming (online and at the table with the family), pets, family, full time jobs, the honey-do list, blog posts (oops .. doing that right now aren’t I?) .. it never ends!

How can you stay focused and productive?

  1. Schedule time to design/write/test
    • Crazy, isn’t it? Just like a “real” job, where you have deadlines to meet, scheduling time to work on your games is the first easy step to getting work done. Even if you’ve hit a road-block, use this time to seek inspiration by reading game reviews or design articles.
  2. Reduce Distractions
    • Dump those social media tabs, email tabs, RSS feeds and so on from your browser. During your scheduled design time you don’t need any of those distractions sitting there taunting and tempting you. In fact, don’t even have your web browser open! Just focus on what you’re doing. It’s amazing how much time you can very quickly lose by checking what is going on in the world.
  3. Take a break
    • 50 ways to take a breakEvery work productivity expert will tell you that you should take a few minutes to get up, stretch and walk around every once in a while. It may sound counterproductive to stop doing your work in order to be more productive but it’s true. The experts suggest that you should take 5 minutes of break for every 25 minutes of work, but the formula for perfect productivity is apparently 52 minutes work followed by 17 minutes of break.  Obviously there is no set-in-stone option.  I suggest you take 10 minutes every 30 to 45 minutes and walk around the block. Go get a drink. Check in on the family. But then get right back to it! Don’t get distracted!
  4. Write a list
    • Possibly the most important thing you can do, as far as I’m concerned, is write out a small, clear list of little goals; things you wish to accomplish. Have a purpose to your work, but make it concise. Break it down, check them off as you go. This will help you stay focused, and feel more accomplished as you complete the list bit by bit!
  5. Don’t overdo it!
    • overworkedEasy to say but hard to follow! There’s too much to do and too little time in the day. It’s ok to take a break from a project if you feel you’re getting burnt out. Losing the desire to work on your own project because you’ve not taken a break does you no good. Designing a game should be an enjoyable process. If you’re not enjoying yourself, step back for a while (a few days, weeks, or even months if needed) and come back to it when you’re refreshed and ready to proceed!

What tips and tricks do you use to stay focused and productive when performing a task?

James J Campbell is the Lead Game Designer at I Will Never Grow Up Gaming and is the creator of several projects such as
TechMage Sci-Fantasy RPG, Into the Black and Conflict & Chaos: Vietnam 1965.