Saturday, May 5, 2012

The benefits of going to "work"

I work a job on a week on week off roster, which affords me the luxury of working fulltime on my models/games every second week. I treat this as an opportunity to "dip my toe" into the work-at-home-as-a-desperate-indie-dev lifestyle that I am clutching at strings to obtain. The problem is finding the line between leisure mentality and work mentality.

When working round the year and having only the weekends and after work to model, I would have to smash out my models at top speed just to keep up. This attitude translated fantastically to working with lots of time, oh man did I get some shit done, but lately I have noticed that with plenty of time to spare, I have more time to waste. It's hard to admit, but there are real downsides to fulltime home work, and subsequent upsides to what I call "work work".


My time at work work is dictated by strict deadlines. I have to be awake by 4 to get to work at 5 to do handover by 6. I get home at 6 and have an hour to exercise, half an hour to eat and maybe 45 minutes to model (or blog) before fatigue takes my eyelids to the center of the earth. I have to be disciplined in my approach to everything, and need maximum productivity.

At home I have literally no deadlines at all. I can get up when the hell I want and go to bed at any time as a result. This freedom initially translated into destroying projects in no time at all, but as I stretched out and relaxed a bit, I found that I didn't absolutely need to be so productive, and so I wasn't.


I have looked back on past weeks off to see what I had achieved and I saw... very little. Well ok, one week I made a basic character model and got it half textured, plus finished off a few models that had been leering at me from my hard drive, but with the amount of productivity I am used to I should have done that in two days.

It's a destructive positive feedback loop. If I get up at 8am and slop my way onto blender with a bowl of cereal and gluey eyes, I haven't given my mind and body the chance or the requirement to engage gears, and so it just idles away in neutral. If it hits 3pm and I still haven't had lunch my body doesn't have the fuel it needs to fire all cylinders, even though I don't feel drained.

The solution?

My solution for this is to enforce my own regime. At work I wake up at 4. That's a bit extreme for me, but I love the early morning - it's so crisp, so I get up at 5.30. Then I have to emulate the difference between being at home before work and getting ready for/travelling to work, so I don't go into the computer room until 7. I have 1.5 hours to have breakfast, wash up, brush my teeth and do anything else I would otherwise put off. At 9 I have a 30 minute enforced break for smoko. I must leave the computer room and close the door. At 12, enforced 1 hour break for lunch. This time I save and turn off the computer. At 7.30pm I close up shop. The rest of the night is work free. I might still sit on the computer and play games/browse the net, but nothing too engaging, or my mind won't shut down for sleep, which happens at 10. Every third day I go out. This is usually to the river for a swim (did I ever mention I live in paradise?) but it can be anywhere, as long as I'm out for three hours or so.

This may all seem a bit silly, but it is so effective at increasing productivity. It is so disheartening to go back to work, where modelling time is non existent, and look at a whole week of time that just got wasted. When I can finally afford to quit my job and make games fulltime I'm going to need these weapons to combat my inner slob, and some early R&D is always beneficial.

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