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Set a Deadline

Category: Productivity/Time Management
February 04, 2009

Set a Deadline

If you are working at a studio or a school project your deadlines are pretty much set in stone. You have to deliver on that date regardless of what happens. There are no alternatives. Sometimes it gets pushed back but it is unlikely.

In this article I am going to explore and give you fundamentals of why setting a deadline is important. I don't particularly like the word deadline, I think it is too negative but for the sake of being clear we are going to use deadline.

The results are more important then being late and being perfect.

Basically deadline implies results. A date you set for yourself or others set for you where some type of a result and/or outcome is going to be delivered.

Setting a deadline is important. Especially if you are working on a personal project. I would go as far as to say that you should never work on a project or a goal where there is no clear time you want to get it done by.

If you don’t have a day you want to be finished, it is safe to say that it may never get done.

Calendar. Pick when you are getting done

When I did my 11-day personal mapping challenge, I created a schedule and a day of outcome for release of my map.  If I hadn't done so it would have taken me longer to get the map done. Knowing my previous experience of not finishing maps, the chances of it getting finished were going to be slim. So setting up a deadline was important for me then creating a map that was perfect and with no due date.

So that is the first thing you should consider when working on a new project. When do you expect it be done with it. If you are new to a project and you have no idea how long something will take because of your lack of skill or experience in a particular area. Just guess. Setting a deadline that can be moved back if needed to be is more important then having no destination date to reach.

Setting a deadline for yourself creates few things.

Managing Yourself, Your Time, Your Activities:
One it forces you to manage your time and be smart with your time.
You now have to plan your project out and be able to be flexible with what you are doing. It creates a good kind of stress.

What Tim Ferriss calls eustress.

"Eustress can be defined as a pleasant or curative stress. We can't always avoid stress, in fact, sometimes we don't want to. Often, it is controlled stress that gives us our competitive edge in performance related activities like athletics, giving a speech, or acting."

Producing Results:
Another thing that a deadline does for you is it makes you produce results, instead of being busy and active. You have to continuously move forward and produce visible and measurable results. Something that you can look back at the end of the day and see how close you are to your release date and schedule. At the end of each day there has to be progress made.

It limits your tasks and makes you focus on what's important and what will produce results. You will focus on the essential tasks to get the outcome you are after.

Honestly, at the end of the day no one cares if you spend all day creating a perfect sidewalk with cracks or a tree that has perfect transparency and normal map, while using z-brush and Maya at the same time.

What players care about is can they download the map and play it. Right now. If not now, when?

Duke Nukem Forever

Think of it this way. How happy would it make you if a game studio releases screenshots after screenshots and videos of an amazing new first-person shooter? But they have no idea if and when it's going to be released. There is no deadline, no schedule. They are just working on it making it perfect as it can be.

Chances are that game will never be released.

That makes me think of Duke Nukem Forever.

Parkinson's Law.

This law describes that:

"Work expands to fill the time available for its completion."

Meaning that if you give yourself one month to complete a map that takes a week. You will fill that whole month with activities of creating a map that could actually take a lot less. Thus creating stress and complexity.

Opposite is true. Give yourself a half the time of what it actually takes to complete a map and you will focus on finishing it within that allotted time.

11-day mapping challenge was Parkinson's Law in effect.

Final Thoughts

Set a deadline for your current map or your current project you are working on if you haven't yet. Create a schedule either daily or weekly that you can refer back to and see how far and how fast you are moving towards your goal. Keep working on it every day. Note the Parkinson's Law in your life.

Good luck and let me know if you found this article useful. Hope you get to create great artwork.

Updated & Revised - Preproduction Blueprint: How to Plan Your Game Environments and Level Designs

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