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Self management and game development

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I've had some self management issues of late, especially when it comes to making games. Things have a tendency not to be finished and I like starting more projects all the time.  As an example, I'm not very good at planning and working my plan. My usual strategy so far to learn "how to make a plan and work it" is to "make a plan and work it" - which never works.... So there is a pedagocial/strategic/logic issue there. 

  • How to finish hobby projects.
  • How do you mix work with hobby.
  • How to make plans, set goals, be professional about your passion without killing the passion.
  • Planning creative work.
  • Working with your hobby projects at home without getting paid and still be professional and get things done.
  • Solve the chicken-egg issue of learning how to "plan and work the plan".

Please don't moralize over this :) I already feel like an childish idiot for bringing up the topic. I'ts a bit like loosing weight: many ways to do it but you have to find your own method. But what are the methods?

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Hi, I think one of the main reasons why most plans don’t work is that it’s hard to adapt them to the future.

In a way once the plan is written, it automatically becomes outdated. Life is unexpected; it’s not possible to plan for everything.

I tried once for a month or so to hobby program before sleep. It didn’t go well. I would go to bed much later than usual, sleeping much less then I should and being ineffective for the whole week.

 Some of the things which work for me:

- Having monthly targets. On a list of paper I write what I would like to achieve for the next month/ 4 weeks. Once something is done, it gets crossed. Not only can I see the overall picture but it’s great for motivation to see what I have completed.  Saturday is hobby programming but I try during the week if possible.

- Using a notebook. I can write what I have done/ will do for each day. Plan my overall day. When unmotivated to work, I would look at past entries to get that extra kick needed to get back to work.

- Using motivation triggers such as a movie clip or some video/article/music. Something which resonates with me and makes me get up and work. Eg probably most people feel something when they watch Indie Game The Movie.  

Some general pointers:

  • Having realistic/honest expectations of what is achievable in a certain time. Eg sometimes I wish I got more done, yet other things were more important. Hard to accept that.  Yet by filling your days by having more things going on, somehow more things get done.
  • Some challenges/tasks will take much longer than originally thought. If somebody is doing something for the first time, it will take even longer.  
  • Learning to be more disciplined. Removing any distractions so that its easier to concentrate on what you want to actually complete.
  • In a way, it’s probably related to getting in a better lifestyle, eating healthy and doing some exercise. That way the brain is more active, tasks should take less time to complete.  
  • Programming is not always fun. There are some really annoying parts. Getting them done is sometimes really time-consuming. But it feels great afterwards.

Some ideas:

  • Maybe rather than starting new projects with new ideas, write them on paper instead. Think starting those projects will be a ‘present’ after finishing the current one/s.
  • Try doing hobby stuff very early in the mornings and or setting aside a whole weekend day.
  • Planning is like a muscle (in my opinion). You get better with practice.

Try to experiment, like you said, its a personal thing. You would figure it out :D

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I find that being agile works the best in accomplishing anything.


Divide your work into small steps.  Each step must be accomplishable within less than a day, or a few hours, if necessary.


Work one step a day and no more.  If you estimated one task to take 4 hours but you finished it in 1 hour, you should not continue on to the next step.  You need that enthusiasm going.


Continue doing this untill you complete your project.

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Agile is a great cue ... I personally went over to using SCRUM for working on my personal projects (it makes sense even as a lone wolf).

You write your product backlog first (it kinda is a business concept). I usually write it with user stories that I can simply copy to the sprint backlogs later.


A month is a little too much for me. I think two week sprints make more sense.

Every two weeks I make a sprint review and a sprint planning "meeting" ... I meet myself I guess mellow.png  ... decide what stories I want to work on, estimate the effort of each story, define the activities in the story and estimate how many of the stories I can actually solve in two weeks.

You need a "definition of done" for each story ... well guess you can check out the wiki article.

Each day you can think about your progress and ask yourself if you are on the right track.

In the sprint review you can check how fast you actually work ... you can write your problems down in an impediment backlog ... if you think that helps with the awareness for what problems there are.


The great thing is that you can leave everything out that you don't like if you do it for yourself ...

but ask yourself twice if it is a smart idea. Try to figure out what problem SCRUM solves with the rules and think about if you have a tendency to stumble into those problems.


And when you work on the product backlog you can already get a feel for how much work will go into a project ... you won't be simply overwhelmed later - it will be at exactly that point wink.png


It helps even if you plan to take a break. The documentation will be useful when you try to remember where you left off, what your exact plans were and what you have already done.

It helps with the "many ideas problem" ... after writing lots of backlogs you get an idea of what those ideas mean ... and it will be easier to decide which product's stories you want to tackle in a sprint.

Edited by DareDeveloper

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