I am not a completer finisher by nature. When working on my game, particularly when it comes to actually creating content rather than just refining the toolset, I find that I constantly get stalled on little details where I kind of sort of know what I want to do next, and subconsciously I even know what’s required to make progress on it, but I just can’t quite bring myself to do it.


For the last few weeks I’ve been playing around with a free version of Basecamp from 37signals as a way to focus my mind and help me get things done. In true GTD fashion, the real value of the tool is in helping me focus on specific next actions, whilst deferring issues that don’t yet need my attention. I’m not being a total fascist about it (you’ll notice that several of the to-do items in the screenshot aren’t really all that specific), but it really comes into its own in those moments when I get stuck. To take a recent example, I knew that what I wanted to work on next was making the cook bring out the choice portion and set it before my two main characters. But mentally I was completely stuck – I just couldn’t bring myself to make progress. At one level, the issue was obvious: I had no 3D model of a cook, I was unwilling to use yet another cowboy as a placeholder (four of the other six characters in the scene were already using that model!) and so I just sat there like a rabbit caught in the headlights, procrastinating by looking at Twitter. Taking another look at my list in Basecamp helped me identify the issue, then I was able to decide upon a specific next action to get unstuck: I was going to have to roll up my sleeves and make another 3D model in Blender. Within an hour or so I had what I needed and was able to make progress on the rest of the scene.

There’s obviously nothing magic about Basecamp that a simple text file couldn’t accomplish just as easily, but it’s quite a nice, simple tool that lets you set up different to-do lists for each of your “projects” and quickly move items around in each list as your priorities change. It’s also nice to be able to see all the items you’ve ticked off and feel that great sense of accomplishment.

What are your ways of making progress when you get stuck on a project? Share your tips in the comments below!

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