Let’s take a moment to sit back and think deeply about those times in school you felt the most stressed. I’m not talking about the stress of asking out a longtime crush or finding all of your classes. I’m talking about another kind of stress, the type of stress you feel when you’re sitting in the bathroom stall furiously scribbling half-baked answers onto the assignment due 10 minutes ago. With wet palms and a curiously folded assignment sheet, you awkwardly laugh as you give your teacher the assignment you “lost but just found”. Hey a D- is better than an F+ right?
Technically yes, but better doesn’t always imply something as being good. As we grow, we (hopefully) learn to manage our time better so we can avoid those situations. Toilet papers are often poorly written, and bathroom algebra generally has some logic gaps. Instead we want to find ways to be productive with our time so we can avoid that whole mess. Game developer Jake Evans is all too aware of the value of time and how important it is to be productive at the right times. His ability to manage his time and learn productive habits has allowed him to get to where he is today.
Basing Productivity in Passion
It’s nearly impossible to be productive with things that you despise doing. It would be like painting the Mona Lisa while having a strong aversion to painting. We’re able to get the best out of ourselves when we apply our focus to something we enjoy. Evan’s was no different. At 15, Evan’s found himself doing web development not because it was his job but rather because he liked it. Him and his friends developed websites that allowed Myspace users to extensively customize their own pages, with his webpages eventually accruing thousands of followers.
Evan’s was finding success in web development, but as we all are forced to do, he needed to make money. After graduation, he had to temporarily put passion on hold as he got a job working the oilfields of North Dakota for four years before solely focusing on game development. This wasn’t easy, and although he was passionate about his work, it was going to require a lot of productivity and focus to achieve his dreams.
After six years of self-education, near homelessness, and tireless work, Evan’s started to taste the fruits of his labors. He published his first game to Steam in 2018 to positive reviews and went on to get a developer position at Facepunch studios where he continues to work today.
Staying on Course
Although he has achieved his initial goals, Evan’s is diligent in staying productive. His work ethic is what has carried him to this point and fortunately he’s developed ways to keep the ball rolling.
“My work is my top priority. I wake up, have breakfast, grab coffee, then sit at my computer and start working. Early in the day I prioritize emails, slack, catching up on what happened overnight and what’s happening today, later on I’ll start coding.”
The importance of routine cannot be understated when it comes to maintaining productivity, as it eliminates the need to extensively think about what to do next. Instead, he’s able to allow himself to flow with his established routine which permits him to focus on the actual tasks at hand.
For Evans, this routine isn’t the only key to his productivity, as his free time also plays an essential role in keeping himself sharp.
“A healthy gym routine is also an important habit. Sitting at the computer all day is bad for both mental and physical health…getting out, being around people, and exercising takes me away from the work for a few hours, provides a nice reset, and lets me not feel guilty about health which in turn lets me focus more clearly on work”.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t relax during your free time, but rather Evans has found a way to balance his life out so he doesn’t get burnt out. The big takeaway here is the value of finding a way to satisfy your needs outside of your professional life. Only by achieving that balance will you be able to get the best out of yourself.
The journey is far from over for Evans. For himself, he hopes to publish more games soon while continuing to be a student of his craft. When asked about what his secret is for keeping on course day after day, he had a small piece of advice to give.
“At the end of the day I take a moment to write down, on pen and paper, a list of things I would like to accomplish for tomorrow.” says Evans, “ When tomorrow comes around I start working on these things, checking them off one by one.”
Constantly hitting personal goals gives you the confidence to achieve bigger and better things, and Evan’s is the perfect example of just that.