ZackBellGains #5

Hello world,

I hope that you are making the most of your day! I know that I have been! In fact, I tend to work better under pressure. Sometimes I take that a bit too far and the internet gets upset with me. Some people believe that I am promoting crunch culture and burnout; knowingly or otherwise. I feel that self-awareness is definitely the key here. Know your body and know your mind. Use common sense and if you aren’t sure about signs and symptoms, do some research. A bit of health, psychology, and nutritional science knowledge can go a long way!

Workload
Anyway, today I opened the flood gates and both posted on Facebook and tweeted that I am available for small contract gigs. As usual, I was flooded with direct messages and emails regarding a wide variety of jobs ranging from design help to programming complete demos. I opted to accept work from my friends, the Telepaks! I didn’t choose to work with Gabe and Michelle solely because I attended their wedding last year, but mostly because I was super interested in the piece of code that they want me to tackle. Tomorrow I will be reorganizing my to-do list for the coming weeks and figuring out a strategy for how to accomplish all of these different goals and project milestones in a relatively orderly fashion.

How do you organize simultaneous projects and/or goals? Do you work on Project A between 9:00AM and 12:00PM, and then work on Project B until you are finished with work for the day? Or do you work on Project A on Monday-Wednesday, and then look at Project B on Thursday or Friday? I tend to be a bit haphazard. I work on what moves me. When I begin to feel some wear and tear, I hop over onto one of my other gigs. The burnout of each project is what solidifies my love for the other projects. They couldn’t exist without each other.

My current plate involves INK 2, prototyping a new Spaceboy project, assisting with Butt Sniffin’ Pugs, working out the details of some contract work for Amazon, and an endless workload provided by my recent startup that brought me to Los Angeles. That’s a lot of work! How you approach my mess? 100% for curiosity’s sake!

Q&A
As always, feel free to submit questions to me in any and every way that you know how: Facebook, Twitter, blog comments, email, etc. Thank you!

Q: “You mentioned you use the pomodoro technique, which I’ve tried before and found that it made my workflow slower and less focused. I was wondering whether it took you a while to get used to? Or did it just start working straightaway? And how do you deal with having to figure out where you left off every time you come back to work?”

A: Hmm, I feel that I started using the pomodoro technique when I hit a personal plateau. Because of this, any change or organizational strategy probably would have felt good or better for me, at the time. It has become more and more useful as I get used to it. I use https://tomato-timer.com/ and once I learned the hot-keys for starting a pomodoro, pausing, initiating a break, etc. things became much smoother for me. Hopefully that helps! As for figuring out where I leave off between work sessions, I’ll credit that one to paper to-do lists. I am still a huge fan of pen and paper priority lists. I am always writing them and I generally don’t tackle all of the bullets in order. However, I will cross things off as I finish them and when I return to work, I still begin with the first bullet to not be completed.

Q: “[…] you talked about having chats with your mentors. I was wondering how you managed to find these mentors in the first place and how you recommend other people go about finding their own mentors.”

A: Good question(s)! I have a few mentors at the moment, but they are subject to change. Jesse Freeman is an evangelist at Amazon. He was a mutual Twitter follower who bumped into me at GDC a few years back. We became very close friends and now we make it a point to meetup at least once per month to discuss both work and personal things (I am on the west coast of the US and he is on the east coast of the US, but Amazon has locations near both of us). Robert Bowling was the creative marketing strategist for almost the entirety of the Call of Duty franchise. One of his many ventures since leaving Infinity Ward was a game publisher and he had openly tweeted that he was looking for projects to pick up. Austin Ivansmith, a director at WayForward, recommended me to Robert and we eventually met at PAX West. We now work together in Los Angeles on projects unrelated to the publishing space. Contacts are king in the games industry. If you want to meet people you need to be vocal, physically present, or both. If you can’t make it out to conferences to meet people, then reach out to them online. DM me. I will be your mentor. Good luck!

Until tomorrow,
Z

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ZackBellGains #5

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