14 Ways to Motivate Yourself

There are some days when you simply don’t feel motivated to do anything. You might have all the time in the world to work on your game and you just don’t feel motivated enough to work. When that happens, you might need some tools to be productive. Here are 14 practical tips to increase your motivation:

#1 – Decide what you want

I believe this is one of the most important steps in motivating yourself: if you don’t know your goal, how can you motivate yourself to achieve anything? First decide what you want, and then set small goals or tasks so that you are absolutely sure you know what to do next.

#2 – Track your progress

Another important motivator: you must see your progress. Don’t just clean your todo list after you’ve completed a task, but rather mark each thing “done”. If you are making a game, start making a version history that shows all the small things you’ve done. Having a visible list of things you’ve done will help you see you how much you’ve achieved.

#3 – Motivation may come from challenges

Some people enjoy challenges: they want to make game in a week, or they want to make 20 new phone calls a day or they want to increase some part of their productivity by 10%. If you are like this, you might find motivation from setting deadlines or really challenging yourself to do better.

#4 – Get fresh ideas

When I presented Edoiki in the game design event I got lots of feedback and new ideas. Brainstorming or gathering feedback is excellent ways to get fresh ideas and boost your motivation.

#5 – Reward yourself

You like checking out forums, emails and blogs – right? Use that to reward yourself. Don’t let yourself use forums, email or read blogs unless you’ve coded 1 hour, added one more feature, killed one ugly bug, made that important phone call or whatever important you might need to do. If you stop doing unproductive but “fun” things after you’ve finished productive and important tasks, you’ll be more motivated to work.

#6 – Remind yourself about the feeling that motivated you

Can you remember the feeling you had when you got your first sale, or when you finally got all the important code pieces together and it worked? Remind yourself about the feeling you had when you had just finished something important and understand that after you’ve finished important tasks – you may feel the same.

#7 – Competition may motivate

Competition is another way to motivate. Set up a little competition among developers. Who kills most bugs this week? Or who gets their task list done fastest? Or who can make the coolest 3D model? Fun, little competition might increase motivation for some people.

#8 – Desktop wallpaper might motivate you

This is really simple motivating technique: just set a new computer desktop wallpaper to remind you about what you’d need to do. I currently have eastern themed wallpaper to motivate me programming Edoiki game. When we get new game art ready, I’ll update my wallpaper.

#9 – Use screensaver

Not as good motivator as desktop wallpaper, but could be considered anyway. Set a screensaver with a text reminder about your game project. Any time you see the text you might consider twice whether to sit on sofa or whether to program your game.

#10 – Listen to motivating music

Some people get very motivated by listening a music they enjoy. I don’t usually listen to anything specific when I’m coding but some people might find this tip useful.

#11 – Play test your game

Sometimes coding can get really boring. When debugging line after line and editing code gets too boring it might be a good idea to do some play testing. Play a few rounds your game and enjoy as much as you can. When you get the feeling “hey, this really IS a fun game” you know you are working on something great and might feel more motivated to continue finishing the project.

#12 – Use leverages

Some people have problems waking up in the morning. Even alarm clocks might not be able to help them wake up at 6:00 am – because it would be too early. Luckily we all can use leverages. If you can use something that will cause bigger problems, you will wake up 6:00. Maybe it’s money. If you would need to give 100 bucks to your co-workers every time you oversleep I doubt you’d do that many times. Or the leverage could be that you wouldn’t be allowed to use your computer unless you get up before 6:00 am. If that would be the case, I would be absolutely sure that it would be no big deal at all for you to wake up in time. You can use your co-workers, spouse or children to be “watchdogs” and make sure the consequences will be handled.

#13 – Ask “what if”

Here are two questions you might want to ask from yourself: “What will happen if you do? What will happen if you don’t?” What will happen if you do what you were supposed to do? If you finish one feature, you know you’ve taken a step further towards completion of the project. If you choose to “wait until you feel motivated” you won’t get anywhere. Simply thinking about the future might get you motivated.

#14 – Remind yourself why you are doing this

The first tip about goal setting is important, but it’s as much important to remind yourself why you are doing games – or whatever it is where you need motivation. When you start reminding yourself about the main reasons what made you start the project in the first place you’ll be more motivated to continue.

Use these tips or whatever works for you. We all are different, and are motivated by different factors. My own personal favourite is tip #8, and maybe it works for you too.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. These 14 ways are arrenged in systematic order so one can find it very easy to learn to be motivated

  2. Great Ideas as Im gonna be a Game Designer/Producer Some day This will really help

  3. Thanks for the reply Juuso. I appreciate your activeness here in your blog. Actually Tim Ferriss’ book entitled “The 4-Hour Work Week” is a new book, and published just this month. It’s actually a best seller in Amazon, and its out now in Barnes & Noble. For those interested just click this link: http://snipurl.com/1ilc1.



  4. Have you also read “The Top 10 Ways to Start Living Your Life”, and “9 Ways To Be More Positive”? These are actually some of the articles I’ve encountered visiting some blogs. These are articles for MOTIVATION and PRODUCTIVITY.

    I would also like to mention about what Jerry Michaels have posted, Tim’s book is very interesting. I already have a copy of it, and get your own too.

    I’m looking forward to have another post here which is the same like this post.

    Keep it up.

  5. I’d just like to announce beforehand that I’m not a game developer but I AM an avid gamer and I’m always curious as to what goes on behind the scenes that make my number 1 hobby and stress reliever.

    For motivation, I keep a stuffed monkey on top my PC. Looking at the ragged rascal makes me smile when I need it the most, especially in times of great stress. It also makes for a great charm during LAN parties :) A positive thought can do wonders when things are looking grim.

    There’s an interesting discussion in David Seah’s blog about Tim Ferriss’ book. He’s got a book coming out that covers points 1, 2, and 5. His work’s about lifestyle change but it’s still worth checking out.

    Anyways, thanks for the glimpses that you afford us gamers about what you have to go thru just to keep us entertained.


  6. I have the same thing as Jake there, I can’t listen pretty much anything that has lyrics if I want to really focus on the task. Also agree on posts above, I get way too many ideas that I keep bouncing around.

    Finally (after way too much chatting, forums…) I try to keep atleast one promise because of this blog, make myself a motivating wallpaper. Kept saying that for months now :)

    Quoting famous Nike slogan: Just Do It!

  7. It’s always good to read posts like that. Though comment on #4 – I get to many fresh ideas so I have to motivate myself to stay on focus and don’t start to many new projects before I finish old ones :D

  8. My desktop wallpaper is of an amazing view of the sea from a balcony in a beatiful villa with a pool and sun loungers. It’s to remind me of one of my life goals, to own the villa and be relaxing there.

    Another important thing: Focus on results not the process. The process may feeling boring or bog you down at certainpoints so focus on the results i.e. the finished game, how good it feels to have made it and to watch the sales and praise rolling in etc.

    As for music, if I’m coding something really hard I listen to nothing. If it’s general code/art etc I listen to euphoric trance and C64 tunes. They make me feel like I’m in a movie, or maybe like in the A-team when they are building something to escape the she they’ve been locked in :-) I can’t really listen to stuff with lyrics (or the radio) if I’m coding as the use of language confuses/distracts me from the code.

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