Most people tend to occasionally get sidetracked while working. Sometimes they get distracted, but other times, they procrastinate instead of dealing with their work. Procrastination can derail many projects, from coding for your indie game project, to getting the dishes done, to writing the Great American Novel. Many indie game developers are self employed and thus have only themselves to answer to. This can be a good or bad thing. You usually don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder, but you and only you are responsible for getting everything done.
Procrastination can happen to the best of us and you might not even notice that you’re procrastinating, since it sometimes doesn’t take the form of a frivolous waste of time. But if you find that you’re doing everything but your work and making excuses not to do it, then you might be procrastinating. Here are a few tips to make sure that you meet all your deadlines and get all your work done on time.
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The root cause of procrastination for many people tends to be anxiety. Many people fear failing, or fear that their best efforts won’t be good enough. Others fear the work itself, that the work will be boring and will drag on forever. Still others are paradoxically afraid of becoming distracted and thus will try to get everything else in their lives done first. Many people have trouble getting started with their work even after they’ve walked the dog, done all the laundry in their house and cleaned out their garage. Getting rid of background distractions is quite nice but sometimes, your work takes priority.
The best way to overcome such anxiety is to simply get started on whatever you were supposed to work on. When you simply take the first step, draw the first stroke, write the first word or type the first line of code in, you make progress. By making progress, you might find that the work is easier than you thought it would be, or that your output isn’t the worst thing in the world as you previously feared. It is only through getting work done that you can allay your anxieties, so it’s important that you get started on your work as soon as possible.
Reward Yourself Later
After getting started on your project, make sure that you have a reward for yourself later on. Don’t just force yourself to finish that latest project just so you can do even more work later. If you put too much work into a project, sooner or later, you’ll tire of whatever you were doing and become burned out.
Because fatigue can be a real problem, especially with very long term projects with no end in sight, it is important to reward yourself every so often. Once you start feeling tired, give yourself a reward. This may be as little as five minutes on Facebook or as major as a vacation to another country. The primary purpose of this reward is to keep your spirits up and to make your to-do list just a little bit less daunting if you know there’s something in the middle waiting for you.
As a corollary to the last point, it is important that you know where the middle is. Plan out and prioritize all your tasks, so that you’ll know what you’re doing at all times. A task can seem insurmountable if you don’t even know where to start or how close you are to finishing. If you do know what you’re doing, then things will become a lot easier and there will be less stress regarding the amount of work you might have.
What planning doesn’t mean, however is not getting started on a task at all because you’re too busy planning how you’re going to do it. At some point, you will have to take the plunge and get started.
Last but not least, take responsibility for your work. Don’t get started just because a deadline is coming up, or you think a deadline is coming up. This means getting started on work early and working to finish what you need to, not just desperately typing something up because you were off doing something else and needed to turn something in. Deadline driven work is usually subpar in quality and is nowhere near as good as work that was completed with due diligence and planning. If you take responsibility for your work, then you will finish everything on time, without having to make excuses.
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