How To Min/Max Game Development Time and Finish Your Project 2x Faster With These 3 Productivity Tips

If you’re a small game studio with a small team, and you’re missing your deadlines and you’re going over budget, then here are 3 tips to help you min/max your development time.

The best reason to learn how to min/max your time is because when you can finish your game 2 or 3 times faster, then you can keep that money you would have spent on extra wasted time.

Spend that money on developing another game. Or put that money into time marketing your game so you can sell more copies.

If you don’t learn how to min/max your time, you’ll go over budget, or you’ll run out of funds. Or you’ll be tempted to hire more people. But hiring more people means even MORE time and money to manage those people.

So, if you’re a small game company and time is your only resource, then learn these 3 tips… because I know that you’ll finish your indie game development 2x faster.

Here’s what you need to know…

The Min/Maxer Technique

I always thought that the busier you got, the more people you needed. And when my first startup company and online service was getting crazy busy, I hired people. But I soon learned that I was spending MORE time managing people… PLUS I was doing my own work.

So I was doing 2x the work, with less efficiency.

Something had to change. I didn’t want to work 16 hour days, in crunch mode.

So, instead of putting more MONEY into the problem, I learned how to be more productive with my time. And after 17+ years of doing this, I came up with a technique called the Min/Maxer.

I learned how to min/max my time from two guys who are way smarter than me.

The first guy is named Edward Deming. He was a statistician and an engineer. He used stats to improve work efficiency. And he started off by going to Japan to help the Japanese people rebuild after the war. Top Japanese industrialists like Akio Morita, co-founder of Sony, all used Deming’s philosophies to improve productivity.

Edward Deming helped Japan rebuild after the war (including co-founder of Sony, Akio Morita)

Deming explained that you lose efficiency when you go from one job to another. By grouping tasks into batches, and focusing all your work on finishing that batch before going onto the next batch, will dramatically improve your speeds.

I’ll show you exactly how to use Deming’s ideas to help you finish your indie game 2x faster. But there’s another guy I learned from, too.

His name is Francesco Cirillo. He’s the guy who developed the Pomodoro Technique or Tomato Time. You’ve probably heard of this. This is where you set a timer and you work on one task until that timer stops. Then you take a short break. And go back to your task.

These two ideas in time management helped me min/max my time. I’ve personally been using these two techniques for over 17 years. And I grouped these two ideas, and I call it my Min/Maxer Technique.

So now let me show you exactly how to use these two ideas to help you min/max your time so you can finish your game development 2x faster…

How To Min/Max Your Time, Finish Your Indie Game 2x Faster: 3 Step Action Plan

Ok, let me sum up what you’ve just learned…

  • You can either hire more people to help you manage your time or you can learn how to min/max your time
  • Yes you will have to hire people, but you forget that it also takes more time to manage them (plus takes more money)
  • It’s better to learn how to min/max your own time before you hire more developers artists and designers to help you finish your indie game, because that is the root of the problem
  • Edward Deming said that going from one task to another kills productivity
  • In other words, jumping from one task or small project to another will hurt your productivity because it’s inefficient
  • What should take 1 hour, now takes 2 or 4 because of these inefficiencies
  • It’s more efficient to lump work into batches, and focus your work on those batches before moving onto the next batch
  • Tomato time is where you use a timer to help you keep focus on completing a task
  • Once the timer goes off, take a short break, and set the timer again

Ok, now that you know what the technique is, here’s how to use it. So, here’s your first step…

Min/Maxer Step 1: Separate Your Work Into Small Batch Projects

Open a Google Spreadsheet, and list all the activities you gotta do to get your game done. Then break each major activity into batches.

To help you get started, here’s my example…

  • Programmer: Game engine, Graphics, AI, Physics, Sound, gameplay, UI, Network, Dev Tools, Porting
  • Designer: Lead design, Level design, Game mechanics, UI design, Audio design
  • Artist: Concept art, Background art, Map art, Character art, Sprite art, Environment art, 2d or 3d models, Environmental assets
  • Writer: Story, Plot, Background, Context, Lore, Characters, UI elements, Item descriptions, Dialogue
  • Sound: Background sound, Sound effects, Voiceover
  • Animator: Special effects, Character animations, Environmental animations
  • Quality Assurance: Technical feature tests, Sound tests, Graphics test, Gameplay tests
  • Game Producer: Scheduling, Funding, Budgets, Setting Milestones, Overseeing general development
  • Project Manager: Scope management, Managing teams, Monitoring schedules and milestones
  • Marketing: Content creation, Customer acquisition, Customer conversion, Paid ads, Traffic to Steam, Build community
  • Online Community Manager: Moderate community, Post content, Gather feedback, Fix community issues

This is just an example, and your workflow will look different.

But the reason it’s important to break down all your tasks like this is because of what Deming said: When you hop from one task to another, that extra step is where you lose all your efficiencies.

What takes you 1 hour to get done now takes 2 hours because of these inefficiencies.

It’s better to group your jobs into batches, and focus on each batch before moving onto another batch.

So, what do I mean by “focus on each batch”? Let me show you, next…

Min/Maxer Step 2: Set Your Clock For 50 Minutes and Focus On One Task

So, in step one I had you group your main game dev activities into smaller batches — and NOT jump from one task to another. Multitasking is NOT productive. You might feel like you’re busy when multitasking. But then at the end of the day you say to yourself, “I worked 16 hours, but what did I get done!?”

Multitasking makes you feel like you’re busy. But jumping from task to task is inefficient and eats up your day.

A better strategy is to lump your tasks into smaller groups. And focus on each group. Get that done. Then move onto another task.

This is where Tomato time comes in. Say you’re working on AI. Set the clock for 50 minutes. Go to work. And when the time goes off, take a 10 minute break. Then set the time for another 50 minutes.

You’ll find that in 2 hours you’ll have more done than if you just put in 8 hours without this kind of focus.

Setting up a timer like this forces your brain to focus on one task. And you’ll be surprised how much you get done when you control your time like this.

This is the heart of min/maxing your time. By grouping your jobs, timing yourself, putting all your focus and energy into one task, and NOT multitasking is how to finish your indie game 2x faster.

But we’re not done yet…

Min/Maxer Step 3: Work On The Most Important Projects When You Have The Most Energy

This is more about energy management than time management.

Let me show you what I mean…

When do you have the most energy in the day? It’s usually very early in the morning, or late at night, right? Or maybe at lunch?

Well, that’s when you should be working on your most important tasks. Remember in step one you grouped your jobs into batches?

Well, which one is the most important right now? Work on that task when you have the most energy. Set a time for 50 minutes with a 10 minute break. Do this cycle 3 times. And in 3 hours you’ll see that you’ve done more work than you normally do in 8.

Try to manage your energy and not your time. This is why time management programs suck. Sure, you might be organized, and do a lot of work — but WHAT you work on is more important than HOW long you work on it.

Again, focus on what you work on and when, and not how long. The idea here is to optimize your brain energy and use it to solve your biggest problems when you have the most energy.

This is how you can get 2 hours of work done that would normally take your 4 or 5 hours. By leveraging your energy levels, and focusing on a task 50 minutes at a time, you’ll see that you’ll get more done in half the time.

The Major Takeaway For Small Game Studios Who Have No Time To Market Their Game…

It’s important to min/max your time because time is money. The faster you can finish your game without any loss in quality, the more money you’ll make from your improved productivity.

How? Because that time when you go over budget, or you run out of funding, or you go over your deadlines, that time could have been spent promoting your game or making a new game.

By min/maxing your time, you’re squeezing out as much productivity out of yourself as you can — without working 16 hour days or spending money on hiring a big staff.

If you want more advanced help with game dev productivity, then click here: How To Start A Game Company: Free Workshop.

Good luck with your indie game. I hope my productivity tips helped you finish your indie game 2x or 3x faster.

What To Do RIGHT NOW… You Action Step

I highly recommend you do the three steps you just learned. And as a warmup, let’s do a quick action step.

Open a Google Doc, and write down 3 or 4 of the major activities you’re working on in game dev. Then break those activities down into smaller batches.

Now have a look at each activity and each batch, and ask, “Which is the BIGGEST problem you’re dealing with right now?”.

The biggest challenge, the biggest problem you have right now will be what you’ll work on NEXT. But not just whenever.

When do you have to most energy? Say it’s morning. So tomorrow morning, take your biggest problem you have right now, and spend 50 minutes on it.

You’ll see that by putting 100% focus on your biggest challenge, your biggest problem, when you have the MOST energy, that you’ll solve that problem — or atleast make have a big breakthrough.

The idea here is that you don’t need a lot of “time”… you just need to manage “energy”. And you can’t just willy-nilly work on what you want. You need to put your best energies on the biggest problems or challenges you have — and you’ll see you’ll get 2x or 3x time more done.

So open a Google Doc. Find out which activity you have the BIGGEST challenge or problem with. Figure out when you have the most energy in the day. And then tackle that problem during that high energy hour of your day.

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Thanks! And looking forward to helping you find players!


Dariusz Konrad
Port Stanley, Ontario