How To Overcome Laziness In Game Development
Today, we have another fantastic subject. I still struggle with laziness. In fact, I’m still working on how to overcome it. A lot of programmers are lazy. And despite what Bill Gates might say—he has a famous quote that says, “Always hire a lazy person to do a difficult job because I lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” —laziness is not a good thing. It’s not a good trait to have it. It’s not something you want around in your life because it can consume your life.
The less structures you have in your life, the less routines, and the less people around you that keeps you going and moving in a positive direction, the more laziness can affect you and actually have a negative impact in your life. For me laziness has caused some issues, especially when it comes to development and doing things that I don’t want to do. That’s when my laziness kicks in the most.
It’s not when I’m super inspired and passionate about developing a game that laziness kicks in, it’s when I’ve already past that phase. I don’t really feel good today, or maybe I just want to binge out on YouTube, maybe I want to watch the a new season of The Expanse or a whole new series on Netflix. You get those lazy feelings right when you need to do stuff but you just end up not doing it. For me, I found that my laziness was usually caused by avoidance.
It was avoiding the things that I had to do but didn’t want to do. My laziness usually wasn’t, “Hey, I’m going to be lazy today.” It’s usually due to anxiety and I don’t want to look at whatever it is I need to do— I just want some pleasure in my life, I want some instant gratification, I want some TV shows or some movies. I’d go see a movie, hang out at the beach or do whatever. So my laziness is a result of avoidance. And my avoidance was usually the result of a massive scoped project. What I mean by that is something that you can’t really see the end of.
I can’t really see the definitive completion point and games fall into this category a lot unfortunately. A lot of the games that we make, a lot of us when we start those games, they’re usually beyond our current skill level. This is good because you want to push yourself and do things you never did before. But when you’re at that stage where you get maybe a little bit done, you look ahead to the horizon and you don’t see the end quite in range. That can cause a little bit of laziness. It did for me. I said that massive scope projects cause the avoidance and the avoidance causes my laziness.
What I found to cure this issue are two primary things:
- Break stuff into chunks.
Definitively define what needs to be done because your brain is not very good at keeping track of definitive tasks.
That’s actually where computers excel and the brain breaks down. We don’t work well with a lot of shit in our head. So getting the shit out of your head and breaking it down into actionable pieces of what actually needs to get done, is really important. So you have to do that.
Figure out the specific things that you want to do because generally, when I’m lazy, I don’t have the specific things that I need to do. I just have this big massive blob in my head of shit that I have to do and I avoid it because I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to go in there and figure all that out.
List the action items into doable pieces, into sizable chunks. I would say that would take you less than 15-30 minutes each to complete specific action items—not the entire engine. For example, complete weapon type A, complete weapon type B, finish skin for main character model—those are action items. It’s not the same thing as complete all the characters in the game, write all dialogue—that’s not actionable. That makes me want to be lazier.
- Use the Pomodoro Technique.
This just doing work in short sprints. Essentially, you want to take a deadline or a time and you set a limit to the amount of time you should be able to do something. For example, I like to do work right before lunch and I usually take it at around 12:30. So at 11;30 I’ll sit down and say to myself, “Hey, I’m going to get this done then I’ll go have a break.” I can come back and do another one later. If you can do three or four of those in a day, you’ll get a lot done.
You’ll get a lot more done than if you work for 8 hours. Laziness distracts you from working. I found that for me to actually break things into action items and then do these sprints where I just get little pieces done, it’s actually pretty motivating. It makes me not want to be lazy anymore because I get in the mode for it.
I’m completing things, I get that little rush of dopamine, and I feel awesome. Then I feel that I want to keep going. The hardest part about laziness is starting. Seriously, that’s the hardest part— it’s actually after you start that it gets way easier.
It’s a giant of a hill to the starting point and then it’s like damn—but it you just got to start. I think that the best way that you make yourself start is by breaking it into actionable items and sprint through those small pieces to get it all completed. That’s how I do it.
I still struggle with this. It’s not a problem that I’ve solved. I’m telling you as the god of programming laziness that I’ve mastered this area of my life because I haven’t. But I realized it’s an issue and I’ve come up with ways to combat it. For me, it kicks in especially heavy in places that I don’t want it to.
For example, making videos for you guys is pretty easy because it’s what I like to do. Working on new games is pretty easy because it’s some I like to do. But doing boring business stuff sometimes, not so easy. Working on client stuff sometimes, not so easy. You just have to figure out the pieces of it that you can do step by step, the action items, and then you just have to sprint and get it done.
Starting is the important part. Just commit to starting and I think that’s the main issue.
I hope that helps. Let me know in the comments below if it did or if you have any tips on how to combat laziness because I’d love to hear from you.