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  • Co-Opportunity: Lessons Learned Working Full-Time

    - Jake Carfagno

  • 7. Plan against crunch, not for it.

    Crunch time comes from two things: too much work, and not enough time. In school, you crunch because your teachers are overwhelming you. They forget that you're taking more than just their class. You crunch because you didn't give yourself enough time to get done your homework. What you thought would take 5 minutes took 20 when you only had 10. But that's school. The game industry differs in one very importantway: unless you're the manager, you probably have no control over work or time. You just follow instructions that put you into the pit.

    If you are in a leadership position like I am, then I have more to say for you. You should never treat crunch time as a last resort. It should not even be an option. I always plan so that the essential things are done when they need to be, and if they don't get done in time, then oh well. I may ask my team for last-minute things from time to time, but I make sure they're always minor (like a PDF edit or a quick graphic or two), and even then, I always let them know not to worry if they can't do it. There are certainly times when I'm more brutal on myself, but that's because it's my choice and not something I am forcing on anyone. Even then, I only do it sparingly. I stayed up until around 1am the night before Cecil Con, and I was exhausted the day of. Do yourself and everyone on your team a favor and don't crunch.

    8. Take care of yourself.

    I saved this for last because it really is the most important thing to remember: you come first. From a practical perspective, you need to take care of yourself mentally and physically so you don't become dead weight. So if you can't put yourself before your project, then take care of yourself so that the project can succeed. Here's some advice on how I've been able to keep myself in a healthy mindset:

    • Take breaks. You can set a timer manually or use a program like WorkRave to remind yourself to step away from time to time. When you're feeling stuck, that's also a good time because you can place yourself in a new environment, which may make the problem suddenly a lot clearer. At the very least, you'll clear your mind so you're no longer feeling frustrated. It also helps you to recharge and gives your body a break from work. Trust me, your back and eyes will thank you.

    • Do what makes you happy, whether it be listening to your favorite music, playing video games with friends, or watching TV. When you're in a good mood, then you're going to do better work. You'll stay motivated longer and will feel more in control of what you're doing.

    • Relax. Go for walks from time to time. Fresh air is amazing and something we far too easily take for granted. You can just do a quick lap around the neighborhood, take your dog down the block, or spend some time exploring the city. Find new places you haven't seen and enjoy just seeing the world. And like I said above, getting away from everything for a bit can give you a new perspective. Exercise is also good since it's proven to boost our confidence while keeping our bodies happy. You can also take a shower. There's just something so refreshing about cleansing yourself in warm water.

    • Be social. Don't force it when you're not feeling it (especially if you are an introvert), but make a conscious effort to not be a shut-in. We as humans are naturally social, so don't push people away and out of your life. It's okay to be alone, but you don't want to feel lonely.

    • Sleep and eat well. I seriously cannot stress this enough: you need to keep your body happy. Sleep is easy for us to ignore until it's too late, and that's why you need to make the effort to not let it get to that point. When you're sleep-deprived, you will not feel well, and you will not work well either. So, get a good night's sleep, and the work will get done when it gets done.

    • Set boundaries. I (mostly) started working on Runaway at 9am and stopped at 5pm. I tried to keep my work only to weekdays and dedicated the weekends to relaxing. That way, I found a healthy balance between me-time and Burning Sky time. By creating the divide, I was much more easily able to step away from it when I needed to and just focus on enjoying myself and the moment.

    That's all I have for you now. Have any tips of your own to share? Post them in the comments so others can see! I hope you find this helpful, and thank you so much for reading. I cannot wait to see what's next for Burning Sky Games.

    (Original text posted on our website)


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