This article was written by Danny Forest, founder of Power Level Studios, an Ontario-based independent video game development company. With him (and his team) being full-time, remote workers currently creating the studio’s flagship game titled “Soul Reaper: Rise of the Unreaps” and “Soul Reaper: Unreap Commander,” he has seen his fair share of productivity and motivational issues. Find out how he combats these problems and how you can too with these tips.
Think about this simple idea: Productivity leads to wins. Wins lead to momentum. Momentum makes you unstoppable. Being unstoppable means that motivation almost becomes irrelevant.
- Waking up at 5:45am? Piece of cake once you’re unstoppable!
- Going to the gym? Piece of cake once you’re unstoppable!
- Finishing a hard, or a boring task at work? Piece of cake once you’re unstoppable!
- Working on the same game for 2–3 years? Piece of cake once you’re unstoppable!
- Learning a new skill? Piece of cake once you’re unstoppable!
You get the idea.
But this all starts by being productive.
“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” — Tim Ferriss
And being productive is not all about working more than others, it’s also about working more efficiently. Differently. Thinking outside the box.
Apply the following 5 tips. Let them inspire you to come up with your own. Let me and the world know what works for you in the comments. Let’s all be productive and build our momentum!
Tip #1: Split Tasks into their smallest components
Is an orange a single component?
Well, no. When you break it down into its smallest components, there’s quite more to it.
A lot of our tasks are similar. For some reason, we don’t dare break it down into smaller components.
I personally aim to break everything down into about 10–15 minutes tasks.
As proven by science and explained in this article, the brain dumps a little dopamine every time we successfully accomplish a task — no matter how big or small.
This habit also has a tendency of keeping you moving toward your goals, and clearing the mental clutter in your mind. — TheMindUnleashed.com
Tip #2: Start the day with one or two easy tasks
Even though I consider myself to be highly motivated, I still need a “win” or two to start my day. After completing easy tasks, I have the motivation and energy to tackle the real hard problems.
Working as a programmer, I typically start with an easy bug fix or small UI change that can be done in 10 minutes or less. Pushing the code up and moving the Trello card to “Done” gives me the drive to keep going.
Working out? Do 10 push-ups as you wake up. You’ll be ready to go to the gym.
Writing? Start by praising a writer you like.
Or even easier, start by making your bed. I personally find it a little too easy and doesn’t really work towards my own personal goals, but it works for other people.
Tip #3: Work on your hardest tasks when you work best
For me, it happens in the morning, right after I finish my one or two easy tasks. I start so early that I don’t have any distractions for about 2 hours, and I have all the energy from having woken up not too long ago + coffee + dopamine rush from previously completing tasks. It’s a recipe for success!
Hard tasks for me include game design/balancing and engineering new systems. Things that require all my brain power. It will be something different for you.
The point is: Don’t spend your high-quality energy on low-importance tasks, otherwise you’ll end up with high-quality results for low-importance tasks.
Always aim for high-quality results for high-importance tasks. It’s that simple!
“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” ~ Peter Drucker
Tip #4: Prepare your next day the night before
This greatly helps with waking up in the morning! At the end of my workday, I write down all the tasks I’ll be working on for the next day and review it before going to bed. This helps me wake up with a sense of purpose. I know what needs to be done, and I want to do it!
As a bonus, my brain keeps working while I sleep, so sometimes I come up with genius ideas on how to complete my tasks while I sleep! Everyone has heard the expression: “sleep on it”. Well, there you go! It’s been proven many times that it helps and here’s an explanation:
REM [sleep] helps to stabilize, consolidate, and enhance connections between memories. Information that was stored in long-term memory during the day is activated (also called rehearsed) and turned into useful connections while we experience REM sleep. — factmyth.com
Tip #5: Take breaks and relax
Have you ever worked on a problem you couldn’t figure out for hours, and later went back to it and solved it in a matter of minutes? Often right?
The problem is we obsess over problems we can’t solve. We spend the little energy we have left trying to figure it out, but the mind just doesn’t work as it should. Take a damn break! It’s a skill that takes practice: figure out when and how to take breaks. Don’t do it on a schedule, that makes no sense. Take a break when you can’t solve a problem that you should be able to solve with minimal to low-effort.
My favourite ways to re-energize are: Power Naps, Coffee Naps, Walking, Showering and Meditating, in no particular order.
Bonus tip: Ignore the people judging you for taking a well-deserved break.
People may label you as a slacker but they’re wrong. Ignore them, reap the rewards and be more productive than them!
Remember that being unstoppable all starts from being more productive.
Whatever you find hard to get motivated on can be made simpler with a series of small productivity wins.
The tips above help you manage your expectations, but also help with respecting your body and mind.
Have you tried applying any of these tips?
Which ones work for you?
What are some of your personal favourite tips?
Feel free to share your experiences in the comments and inspire the rest of the world!
You can do this!