I want to start with the following statement: "What works for me might not work for you". That's because we are different and we have to take care of different problems in our lives, but if you are an indie game developer and you are trying to make games only in your free time (I have a full time job) then, we have a common problem: TIME. I just want to share a time management method that has been working for me for the last 6 months.
In the past, my life was super chaotic: I couldn't finish my projects, I didn't sleep too much, I couldn't stay focus. In the end these things led to frustration and broken relationships with other people. So I decided to try a few time management techniques:
There is a classic timetable format that everybody tries:
I tried this a few times in the last couple of years and every time I dropped it after a week or two. It felt like I was a machine. Also if a task takes longer than you planned, the whole day is screwed.
Next, are the task priority techniques. Every day you have a list of tasks or a TO DO list with different priorities and you reserve some time for them. Here we can mention:
These methods give good results at work where you spend up to 8 hours a day and you are a part of a hierarchy. At home it's harder to apply them if you are not super organized. These techniques can also fail as you are always interrupted by colleagues and friends etc.
The reason why these methods doesn't work is rigidity. They are not flexible to let you finish what you want to do for that day.
Six months ago I've started to work on my latest game Polandball: Can into Space. To finish the game, I didn't set goals for the next day, I set goals for the whole week. I remember that every Sunday, I said:
The whole architecture for the game can take a while to get it done so I split it in multiple tasks. I used Trello to manage all the tasks for the project. Trello also helped me a lot to visualize the progress.
I also used Google Calendar to set up all my meetings or places I need to be. It doesn't matter if it's only one or five, add them to the calendar. You can do this on on a Sunday evening, it takes only 5 minutes.
Two rules when I'm trying to set up a meeting:
After a few months, the game was finished and I've started to do some marketing. I know, I should have started this earlier during in the development process. I wrote here how I failed.
Marketing takes lots of time and effort. I remember that I didn't sleep too much (about 3-4 hours a night) in the first two weeks when the game was launched. And of course this screwed all my program and chaos was once again over me. However, I realized that I can integrate marketing in my time management plan.
And here is how:
In the future I also want to add marketing tasks in Trello. This will remind me what I have to do for the marketing week.
Assigning tasks for the whole week and make an alternate between marketing and programming really works for me. In the end, my advice is to try different techniques and see what fits you and try to find your own method.
Sergiu Craitoiu, writer at http://in2gpu.com/
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SergiuCraitoiu