I’m a list-oriented person. I carry around a small notebook for jotting down ideas, and laying out my tasks for the day. I also have a digital version of this list, the master list, that I keep on Wunderlist. It’s easy for me to spend more time sorting my todos into lists and sketching out designs, than actually coding on the tasks. This is partly procrastination but mostly because I can plan from anywhere (at lunch, on the train, in line at the store), whereas I can only realistically work on the game for a couple of hours each day if at all.
My schedule goes like this: I get home from work around 6:30 pm. I decompress for an hour or so. Then I go for a run or work out, which I don’t do everyday, but I’m trying to do more often. That lasts until 8:30 or 9. Then I have to make dinner and eat. (Yes, I know I shouldn’t eat so late, but I can’t do it before working out). That gives me approximately 2 hours to work on the game before going to bed around midnight. That’s all assuming I didn’t stay late at work, or go on date night with my beau, or have to do my taxes or whatever. I try to catch up on the weekend, working for long stretches at Starbucks, but there’s plenty distractions and chores to do on the weekends as well. Life, am I right?
As I near the end of what I’m going to call phase 1 of the project—that’s something like an alpha build I suppose—it’s easy to get off track and start adding features to make the game more fun or alive. The feature creep is real, and the lists keep me centered. When I come up with a cool idea I let it live on the ‘Eventually’ list so that it’s not forgotten and I can think on it for a while before jumping in head first.
I try to keep the lists sorted with most important tasks on the top and using Wunderlist’s starred items to indicate which tasks that I should do tonight or before the week’s end. As every programmer knows, every task takes longer than you think it’s going to. Very recently I’ve decided to put time estimates on tasks. This is with the hope that over time I’ll get better at estimating and maybe gain some insight into why things take as long as they do. Also sometimes it’s nice to pick a short task so I can actually see some finished progress.
There are a lot of programs and methods I’ve tried to improve my work process. I’ve considered using a Kanban board but it doesn’t seem useful for a team of one. I used Evernote for a brief period but their newish business model has driven me away. At least once a year I think a day planner is a good idea and then after a month or so the pages go empty.
Side Note: I’m a total office supply freak. I love notebooks and the feel of pages and I have too many. I find bliss walking through the pen aisle of Office Depot, letting my fingers linger too long on highlighters and smooth-writing pens. It’s a problem because it’s so easy to get carried away. This is why the small pocket sized notebook works best. You get immense satisfaction from filling one completely. I try to keep one solely for Fair Weather notes but sometimes life stuff sneaks in and that’s alright too.
So here’s what’s working: I like Wunderlist because it is polished, cross-platform, and free.99. I keep my documents/spreadsheets in Google drive; I use dropbox and a flash drive to keep my files. It’s pretty simple. I might have to adapt when/if someone joins the team, but that’s a bridge I’ll cross later.
The process is working for now. It’s nice to see my ‘Must Have’ list getting shorter despite a few large tasks still to do like find an artist, incorporate art, find audio. The code itself has a lot of TODOs scattered around it, but for now the focus is on getting something that works, while acknowledging systems that will need optimization or redesign when there’s time.
Ok. That’s it for now. I’ve got shit to do.