I think a big challenge for any indie developer; indeed, any person; is how you manage your time. We all want to be working on our latest and greatest project, but we also need to manage everything else in life. I don’t believe it’s ever wise to burn out in trying to create something. I’ve found new challenges in my time management since going back to work full time, so I wanted to share about how I approach this whole area.
As any self respecting Time Lord will tell you, some points in time are fixed, and some are in flux. I like to think of my time in the same way (any excuse for a Doctor Who reference!). Certain things in my week are fixed – like being at work 9 to 5:30, being in church every Sunday, sleeping during certain hours etc. That time is easy to manage, but it’s all the rest of your time that presents an issue.
One approach is to always do the most urgent and most important thing first. The trouble with that is that some things, like having a social life, are never urgent, but are vital to build into your schedule. Another approach you might take is to have a weekly schedule, but you’ll soon find that it can become restrictive. I find that none of my friends work to much of a weekly schedule, so trying to fit any socialising in requires flexibility. I don’t even try to get ‘x’ number of hours of project work into a month, but I just go with the rhythm of life.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been working to get my church’s new website live. It’s taken up a lot of time, and I pushed hard, meaning that I didn’t have time to work on my app, and I socialised a bit less than I would usually. But I’m fine with that. What I’ve come to realise is that there are chunks of time when your emphasis on where you spend your time will shift, and that’s OK, because that’s how life has to work. One of the best bits of advice I was ever given about time management was to think of balance as a pendulum. It’s easy to get into micromanaging our time, trying to make the pendulum as still as possible at all times, but you need to let it swing out. For me, the pendulum has been on the church website, but this week it’s been swinging back towards Rizer. I’m hoping to launch the pixel art app before the year’s out, which will require a lot of time and effort to be invested in the next few months. But there’s also plenty of other things I have planned in that time – like spending quality time with my family. The pendulum will swing backwards and forwards, one week will look very different to the next, and that’s OK.
So embrace the pendulum. It’ll lead to a healthy, balanced, guilt free lifestyle, where you don’t burn out, but keep on making awesome things for many years to come.