There is a good chance you’re already well acquainted with time management and have probably completed plenty of to-do lists in your lifetime, whether professionally or privately. Even in game development, it’s important to develop an efficient plan for large projects in order to carry them out as flawlessly as possible. Efficient time and self management is key to making your work both more successful and more relaxed. Of course, our colleagues cannot be rivaled in this field, not least because our staff development team offers courses for time and self management at our Goodgame Academy.
In today’s blog post, we want to share with you some valuable tips that you can use to better allocate your time, become more productive, and avoid stress. It only takes 10 minutes to read but can save you many hours down the road! 😉
Create an overview
Getting straight down to work without any planning is rarely the most efficient way to approach a task. The best thing to do is to organize your tasks in regular rotations, and the “ALPEN” method is something that can help with this. Each letter stands for a step that helps you develop a plan for completing your tasks:
1) Arrange your tasks – First write down everything that has to get done.
2) Look into the length of each activity – How much time will each task take?
3) Plan for slack time – Better to have too much time than too little
4) Establish priorities – Which tasks have the highest priority and which can be put aside?
5) Note follow-ups – Regularly check how you are coming along and adjust your planning to your current progress
When properly implemented, the ALPEN method creates a to-do list that is more elaborate and constantly evolving. This gives you a clear plan to follow, and you will know precisely when you have to take care of which tasks.
The Pareto Principle – Sometimes less is more
Although Vilfredo Pareto lived over 100 years ago, his discoveries still apply to modern times. The Pareto Principle says that 80% of results (whether in small projects or in terms of entire companies) are achieved with only 20% of total expenditure. What can we learn from this? It is often the case that many of the tasks we do as part of our daily work aren’t necessarily successful at achieving our objectives. If you have a lot of pending tasks, it’s worth taking a critical look at where you might be using up 80% of your energy but not moving forward at all. Then you can cross anything unnecessary off of your list and focus on the essential tasks instead.
Be SMART, set (the right) goals!
Naturally, you have to set clear goals if you want to know where you’re headed with your tasks. At first, this sounds obvious – many tasks have easily definable goals (you’ve completed “Mission: Milk” once milk is in the fridge). However, the issue gets more complex when you face larger projects, such as when a marketing manager has the goal of making a successful new product. What does “successful” mean? An extremely effective approach to setting meaningful goals is the SMART method. Each letter stands for a characteristic that you should use to define your goal.
Specific – The goal must be precisely worded
Measurable – You can objectively measure when exactly the goal is met
Attractive – Be ambitious so that achieving the goal pays off
Realistic – Even if it’s ambitious, the goal should nonetheless be achievable
Timetable – Set clear deadlines for when the goal should be achieved
Methods like these can also be used in your private life, of course. Have you always wanted to learn a new language? Instead of saying: “My goal is to learn Spanish”, a concrete SMART goal definition would be more like the following: “I will learn Spanish to a level where I can make myself understood in simple conversations while on vacation and also learn 20 new vocabulary terms every week for 2 months.”
Use the proper tools
The good old to-do list is the classic every day time management tool. The digital age has blessed us with all sorts of new tools for organizing our tasks, however. Many people aren’t aware of the various practical functions that smartphones and computers offer in your calendars and planners – from automatic appointments and time blockers for regular tasks, to synchronization, reminders, notes, and sketches. Furthermore, you can take advantage of numerous applications like Wunderlist, Evernote, Remember the Milk, or GQueues with diverse planning and reminder functions. Test these little helpers out and see which one you like best.
Full concentration with the Pomodoro technique
Having a perfect plan for your tasks is one thing, but actually achieving this plan is something else entirely. Interval techniques like the Pomodoro technique are recommended for efficient work practices. This technique works as follows:
1) Choose a task and set the timer for 25 minutes. Give this task your full concentration for this period of time, no distractions
2) After the interval, take a break for 5 minutes: grab a coffee, or listen to a bit of music – it doesn’t matter.
3) Repeat this procedure of 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of break for a total of four times.
4) Then enjoy a longer break of 20-30 minutes.
5) Start at step 1 again
The timer will help you to keep your concentration and also ensure that your brain gets a break. This method also helps you to get a good understanding of how long you actually need for tasks. You can then use this information to optimize your overall planning.
Find out what works for you
Everyone has their own working style, of course, so there isn’t “one method” that fits everyone perfectly. Try out a few techniques and tools and combine them in the way that works best for you. And if you eventually go back to the good old to-do list in your notebook, that’s fine, too! Good luck! 😉