Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Ten-Minute Method

So, I have a method of making progress on personal projects outside of work. This applies, for one thing, to game projects for a large number of Indie developers who are working on their games on evenings and weekends.

I think we all suffer from a lack of motivation now and then, and sometimes days seem to rush by without us having the time or strength to get work done on The Project. It's not that you don't love the work or believe in the project. It may simply be that something else always seems like a higher priority, or you feel a sense of dread about the amount of work left to be finished, or you're distracted by an activity that's more appealing in the short term.

The Ten Minute Method is this:

Work on the project every day, even if it's only for 10 minutes. Every single day, no matter what, but you only need to commit to 10 minutes. You can always find 10 minutes, right? Maybe just before you go to bed, or just before you plunk down in front of the television.

The actual work you do can be anything. If you're working on art, just sketch something. Clean something up. Go looking for reference. If you're programming, just look through code for a while. Read some documentation. Comment old modules. Make lists of things to do later. Easy stuff, right?

The results are these:
  1. You'll always be caught up. It's surprising how much time you can waste just coming back up to speed on a project when you haven't been thinking about it for a week or two. This can be really frustrating with software development projects. "What was I working on coding? Why did I start writing this module? Did I need to finish something else first?" As a side benefit, just keeping the project in your head may make it easier to think about the project when you've got a little downtime (like waiting in line at the grocery store). And, it may make it easier to find motivation, if that's what you're lacking, since after a while it helps eliminate fear of the unknown.

  2. Little things add up. 10 minutes a day for a week is a good hour of work that you might not have gotten done otherwise. And since you're working on it every day and don't have to come up to speed every day, it was probably a fairly productive hour.

  3. In practice, the first 10 minutes are the hardest. If motivation is your problem, this is the real benefit of this technique. After the first ten minutes of involving yourself in whatever aspect of the project you choose, you'll find yourself wanting to work a few minutes more, and a few minutes more, and sometimes those 10 minutes can turn into a couple of very pleasant and productive hours! I find that I sometimes forget from session to session how excited and happy I was to be working on The Project the night before, and those 10 minutes are all I need to draw me back in and make me forget about my important plans for watching reruns on television all night.

Maybe it seems self-evident to you, but it's surprising how effective this has been for me and my friends. Once you get into the habit of The Ten Minute Method, things just get done.

-- stay

Monday, April 25, 2005


Inspired by the great and powerful Jay Barnson, I've finally decided to give a company blog another try.

The basic idea here is to post occasional thoughts about independent game development and thus document my descent into madness. This blog will generally be updated by me, stay, but since NinjaBee is a real company with various employees, we may hear from other people from time to time.

"What? Another indie game developer blog?" you say. Well... um... yes. However, I hope we can provide some reasonably useful thoughts that don't completely bore you unconscious. The key people at NinjaBee each have at least nine years of professional game development experience, so it's not like we're totally making this stuff up.

At least, not most of the time.

-- stay