Best Medicine For Lack of Motivation

Every game producer faces the situation where you don’t “feel like working”. It might be that you are simply too tired, or had a bad conversation with someone or the project feels overwhelming. There might be unanswered emails, there might be phone calls that you *should* do. Maybe there are project management issues that need to be taken care of – and it feels like you don’t have time to finish all the tasks, so you (perhaps unconsciously) decide finish none of the tasks.

It’s often common to think about browsing some forums, blogs or maybe play one or two rounds for some nice game. Basically you don’t feel like working, so you spend your time on something else. Sometimes this type of feeling can be simply because you might be spending too much time in front of your computer – and good solution for that is simply turn off the computer and do something completely different.

If the lack of motivation is not because of staring the computer screen, then I’ve found the greatest solution – at least for me – is to simply start working on something. That’s the best medicine, and the best part is that you can take this medicine as often as you want – there’s no restrictions on this.

If you lack motivation, do the following:

  • Pick the ugly project. Maybe the ugly project is simply to “work on your game” or “go through all the unanswered emails”. You know what your ugly goal is by answering the question: “What *should* I do now?” or “What is the project/objective that would have greatest impact on me after I’ve finished it?”
  • List specific tasks or actions – some things that are very small items. “Finish gameplay” is not acceptable action as it might take weeks or months to do that. “Make player movement smooth” is better example: it might require only few hours. Another good example could be “Make unit system read CSV file”.
  • Most important step: start working on the first task in the list. Don’t care that you aren’t motivated. Just start doing the job – and when you start making progress, you’ll see that “hey, this wasn’t that bad after all”. The key is to start taking baby steps towards the completion of the task. As you start see that you are progressing, you start to feel more motivated.

Before I wrote this entry, I felt unmotivated to do pretty much anything at all. I decided to start programming, and felt immediately much better. And not only I finished the task – but I also wrote this blog entry. I feel I took quite a leap from unmotivated to motivated and even finished something.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. What a nonsense! I just googled the web in search of motivation pills, and what i found was this dude who says i should simply start working. Well I just want a drug so I want to start working. I tried beer, although I like beer a lot, I didn’t could find enough beer to make me start working again.
    What I did find out, was that reading useless blogs didn’t help me either. But it is fun. And fun is beter then doing something usefull. Now my projectpartner is going to beat me up if I don’t start working again. That is the best motivation. If you don’t have motivation. Find someone who wil kick your ass if you don’t work!

  2. What I always did is just gather all the job that I lazy and unmotvated to do, write them down, give a sequenze on each of them(Like your steps number 2). Usually I will put those easy-job up front, for example, making some call. Then I will tell myself, just do it 5 minutes, then you can rest. So I take action and do it. For each task you accomplish, you motivation level is increased.

  3. failing some exercise, some deep breathing often also does the trick. And yeah get started and then you find you quickly get into it.

  4. @Patrick: Yes, physical exercise is also very good approach – and sometimes the best approach. Also taking naps or good night sleep can help. And of course good meal if you are terribly hungry. There’s actually quite many best medicines..

  5. Getting physical exercise is often the best approach, it rejuvenates your drive to do mental labor and helps you defocus on a design problem, which often brings a solution right back to you when you least expect it.

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