One of The Most Important Lessons About Getting Things Done

I believe one of the most important in doing pretty much anything is to know what you are going to do. Climbing a tree won’t do much good if you have picked a wrong tree.

I’ve noticed that it’s easy to lose focus and start doing irrelevant things (like read blogs, check out forums, have a quick look at email, play some games) when you should be programming your game. I think the single most important thing to do is to have clear tasks which will tell you what you need to do next.

That’s very simple rule, but it’s darn easy to forget it.

It’s also easy to start doing some irrelevant coding or production task that won’t make it to the final product. I’ve noticed that I might start looking for some texture files when in reality artist should be the one who gets those files – it doesn’t do any good for me to google for some textures. Learning to say NO for yourself – besides others – is important skill to manage.

I use pen & paper to write down ideas and I also use simple text file for todo tasks and finished tasks. I think it’s good motivation to see visible progress (finished tasks) and have some clear, visible tasks (todo) that you can do. This way you can immediately tell what you should be doing next.

Do you know what your next development task is?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Surprisingly, being cut-off from the Internet while working has helped me get things done. Without access to the web, the temptation to postpone the task at hand – and “research” instead about the latest and greatest on game development – is automatically eliminated. :)

  2. Guyss, sorry for self-promotion but if you have this problem (like I do), you might want to keep an eye on my product which would be launched in a few weeks:


  3. A piece of paper right next to me tells me waht to code next, and its a smaller subset of my main to do that I keep on the PC, but which I’ve recently transfered to google spreadsheets to share with the rest of the team.

    Also another piece of paper tells what non-programming stuff to do next e.g. people to invoices, bills to pay, things to fix, places to go etc.

    However, you have caught me on this blog again, naughty naughty. But like Dark Moon says, if I’m not under major pressure it’s good to browse game news/forum sites/play games to gain bits of info, make connections, empty your mind and receive inspiration etc (although inspiriation is more likely when I not at the PC, e.g. outside, in the bath, walking etc).

  4. I particularly like Google’s ToDo module that you can put on your customized google homepage.

    Google’s customizable homepage is turning into quite a timesaver, because I can check my email, search, use my TODO list, search Wiki or Dictionary.com all from the same place. Saves a lot of time.
    I also have a customizable event calendar on my homepage on which I put upcoming events.

  5. I tend to start the week by writing down everything I want to do..


    Then cross each one off. At the end of the week start again and transfer any of the unfinished stuff onto the next peice of paper.

    It definitely speeds up my progress if I have something on my desk always there to remind me what I should be doing.

  6. This is very true! I also have a paper with todo items next to me, so I always know what to do next.

    Unfortunately, I have this bad habit of reading your blog every day ;)
    But seriously, you shouldn’t go to extremes with keeping focus. I do allow myself to do ‘irrelevant’ things, like reading blogs, forums etc. They can contain useful information and opportunities, and keep me in the mood while taking a break from coding.

    E.g. I just downloaded the FreeMind tool that Rike mentioned. Who knows it could be very useful for me, and I wouldn’t have known about it if I would prevent myself to read blogs and forums!

  7. All of this is so true to me :)

    I have massive plans for my projects but just end up doing something else. I really hate it when I notice it few weeks later. “Damn, that feature X, I could have done it by now”

    I started my personal wiki where I collect notes, ideas..etc from anywhere basicly. Mostly at work, non-computer related. Hopefully I get to show my project X some day to you guys.

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