Personal Development

Achieving a Life Balance

When I try to squeeze game development into the rest of my life, it feels like everything encroaches on it; however, when I make game dev a big priority, I notice that other aspects of my life start to falter.

I have a regular day job, and I try to work on my own projects as well. Then I have the other aspects of my life, such as girlfriend, friends, family, cats, playing video games, reading books, keeping track of my finances, this blog, etc. It all adds up to a need for more effective uses of my time.

I know that I am sitting most of the time, which is why I am making an effort to exercise. I have read that getting your heart rate up for 30 minutes a day for at least three days a week is ok, and five days is better. I’ve been walking or running home from work, which has helped. I was 195 lbs (88.45 kg) about this time last year, and now I am 173 lbs (78.47 kg). I definitely hit my goal of losing 20 lbs, and I feel better when I breathe deeply or move quickly these days. Pickup basketball or soccer games are much more fun when you aren’t gasping for air. B-)

Physical health is important, but so is mental health. As you know, I keep track of the books I read. I’ve been trying to read a book a week, and for some time this year I was even a couple of books ahead of schedule. Since I’ve been concentrating on getting my game dev hours up, you can see that I am a few books behind.

My backup computer has failed, and I’ve yet to get it up and running even though I have had over a month. I have yet to make an appointment for a physical with my doctor or a dentist appointment for an opinion on my wisdom teeth. I have a number of tasks on my todo lists that have been there for weeks or months. There are still games that I haven’t had a chance to play. Civilization 3 is still unopened on my shelf, my Prince of Persia: Sands of Time save game has been about 50% complete for quite a few months, I haven’t gotten anywhere with DROD, and I’m still hoping to play games I have for the N64! As a game developer, I’m behind when it comes to actually playing games.

My project is moving along, especially in the past month when I have been doing a much better job of working on it. Does everything else getting put off become a natural consequence of essentially working two jobs, leaving little time for anything else, or can I be more careful about balancing my life?

One person told me that he does things in spurts. One week he’ll play games, then the next week is all work, although he didn’t say that he purposely scheduled his weeks in this way. It sounded like it was based on whim rather than conscious choice, though. Perhaps if I purposely decided that this day or week is dedicated to specific aspects of my life, I wouldn’t feel that they are getting neglected. After all, they are on my calendar, so when their time comes, they’ll be dealt with. You can’t schedule everything, of course, but for those things that you can schedule, they can get blocks of time set aside.

Exercise isn’t really something you can do in spurts. You’re either exercising or you’re not. Reading books is something you can do in spurts, though. I could probably finish my current book and a couple of other books if I dedicate an entire day or weekend to it. I could take an entire week to play video games, catching up on what I’ve been missing.

But if I schedule a week to a specific set of tasks, I then worry that it will be a month before I get to something. I don’t know if it will result in balance as it is more like consciously choosing to unbalance myself. If I play games one week, read books and articles the next, that’s two weeks in which no progress is getting made on game development. On the other hand, I could do a better job of dedicating certain days to certain tasks.

I was stressed when I was trying to work 20 hours on game dev and still expected to fit everything else into the week as well. I was setting vague and unrealistic goals without realizing it, and I don’t think I was fun to be around. I’ve been neglecting my weekly reviews, so I need to reboot my organizational tools, as I have too many calendars and lists. I need to make conscious decisions about how I am going to spend my day, my week, my month, and my year.

None of the above is really all that new. It’s just nice to remind myself once in awhile since I seem to fall in and out of it.

3 replies on “Achieving a Life Balance”

There was a time when I felt that there were certain books I just had to read. There were quite a few of them actually, so I had to keep reading at a steady pace. Some of those books weren’t enjoyable at all, which lowered my overall enjoyment of reading and so I read less and less.

I got cured of that particular problem when I read Moby Dick. That book was such a huge waste of my time, that I suddenly realised that there is no reason to put yourself through such an ordeal.

My point is, reading is supposed to be fun, to be a form of relaxation. If you plan your reading, chances are you’ll only increase your anxiety. The same goes for planning computer games.

It’s good to have a schedule for exercising and it’s good (if you want to be a game developer) to schedule time for game programming. If those are the things you need to do, then you’d do well to have a plan for them. Certain things in life are necessary, but playing computer games is not one of them. 🙂

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