How To Maintain The Proper Gaming/Life Balance
“The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration – it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done,” writes essayist and author Tim Kreider in his New York Times “Anxiety” blog post, “The ‘Busy’ Trap.”
What Kreider wrote about in the summer of 2012 – creating space and quiet for yourself so you can stand back from life and see it whole – may be necessary now more than ever. COVID-19 has completely changed the way people interact with one another, often needing to turn to technology now to create and experience connection.
But what happens if you’re building your gaming career, trying to spend the majority of your day training and practicing, while also having to attend video classes for school, video meetings for your day job, and/or video calls with family and friends? You’re constantly connected, your day moving from one technological source to another, making it hard to unplug and unwind, leaving little to no time for you to reflect on your day’s gaming challenges.
By not giving yourself quiet, reflective time to think through the mistakes you made during your gaming session today, you won’t be able to improve your gameplay tomorrow, and moving forward, because you haven’t given any time or thought to potential solutions for the problems and obstacles you faced. It’s important to take the time to check in with yourself, and completely stop your gaming session for the day, or else seconds will turn into minutes, minutes will turn into hours, and hours will turn into days. Then your days will turn into weeks and before you know it it’ll be as if you’re living your own version of the movie Groundhog Day.
One of the ways to maintain a proper gaming/life balance is to create a ‘shutdown ritual’ or ‘fixed measures that denote the official end of a workday,’ according to The Boston Globe article, “Trying to separate life from work while stuck at home during COVID-19? Develop a ‘shutdown ritual.” While the intended use of a ‘shutdown ritual’ in The Boston Globe article is to create and maintain a healthy work-life balance, this same concept applies whether you’re a pro or hobby gamer. It’s important to have a clear end to your gaming session, choosing to stop playing at a certain time or a certain point, knowing that you can pick back up where you left off tomorrow.
In order to bring their day to an end, Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work and Digital Minimalism actually utters the words, “Schedule shutdown, complete,” while Michael Hyatt, the creator of the Full Focus Planner pre-loads his computer with only the programs and apps he’ll need the next day, according to a Daycast blog post, “Why and how to create a daily shutdown ritual.”
The 3 reasons to create a ‘shutdown ritual,’ according to Daycast, are to ‘set yourself up for a productive tomorrow,’ ‘give your subconscious mind the space it needs to work through problems and generate new ideas,’ and ‘get the most out of your time off instead of diluting your fun and relaxation with distracting thoughts of work.’
That last one can certainly be challenging if you’re gaming as a hobby right now, but have intentions of turning pro someday. That line of ending your day, but also doing something fun and relaxing becomes blurred because the activity that brings you joy – gaming, is also the activity that you want to make your career, which means that you have to dedicate hours to practicing so you can get better. It’s still worth your while to have a firm stop to your gaming session each day so you can shut your mind off and allow yourself to rest and recharge.
Daycast recommends creating a list of tasks that will become part of your ‘shutdown ritual,’ playing around with and trying your ‘shutdown ritual’ out, and then making tweaks and changes as you go in order to find what works best for you. Once you have a ‘shutdown ritual’ you’re happy with, practice it daily so you’ll associate your ‘shutdown ritual’ with putting an end to your gaming for the day.
And while it’s summer right now, fall means back to school, which can create a whole bunch of new issues, especially when it comes to balancing video games and studying. In a YouTube video, “How to Balance Video Games and Studying,” Thomas Frank, the author of 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades, talks about what he calls the ‘Work/Play Compulsion Scale.’
Frank explains that if he had his priorities in order and acted in the way that he wants to act on a daily basis, then he would work for a certain amount of hours and play video games for a certain amount of hours, falling right in the middle of his ‘Work/Play Compulsion Scale.’ As most gamers know, that’s easier said than done. If you’re someone who finds that video games are a major distraction and sometimes stop you from getting your work done, Frank has tips to help you find a solid work/play balance.
A few of Frank’s tips are to set up an area for studying that’s only for studying, using gaming as a reward (allowing yourself to play video games only after you’ve studied and completed all of your work), playing games that work well with your schedule (meaning don’t play super long games if you don’t have time for them, instead pick games that you can play in the limited window of time that you have available), and his last tip is to turn your life into a game (setting goals for yourself that you’ll be excited to achieve). Frank says, “You can actually reduce the compulsion to play lots of video games if your life actually feels like a game itself.”