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How I Found More Free Time

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My New Game Binder

I’m at a point where I work 40 hours a week in addition to interning on both my days off for 12 hours a week, while trying to run two nights of game a week and not die of sleep deprivation. Strangely, now that I’m so crunched for free time, I’m finding a lot more of it in my day–because I have to.

Driving to and from work – 1 hr
With the iPod on shuffle my commute can be a wellspring of inspiration as I simultaneously process the ideas for my game against the lyrics of the songs. The combination gives me new ways of looking at my game material, or occasionally changing the way I see the lyrics altogether. (Call me a bit of a dope for not seeing it sooner, but I was really excited today when I had an epiphany that Florence + the Machine’s Remain Nameless is a song about an all-paths-are-one kind of God.) Like in the shower, I’m alone for a solid half hour at a time and can do a lot of brainstorming and conceptualizing, provided I’m not distracted by the Anti-destination League member going 35 in a 50 up a hill, and have had some form of caffeine.

Walking from one end of the store to the other – 5 mins multiple times per day
Now that I’ve developed a sort of “motion-detector” for customers so I can automatically greet them and quickly determine whether they want my attention or not, I can think about my game while walking to the phone center to swap out the battery, to and from breaks, up to the customer service desk to process transactions, and to check in with my expeditor on the latest installer/vendor/customer crisis. This seems the best time to test out motivations of the various parties, and add reasons to keep the PC’s involved, and so on to tweak material I already have floating around my brain.

On My Lunch Break – 30-45 mins
I’m not so good at dedicating my not-eating time to game/writing prep just yet, but I could easily swap out my Kindle time for Evernote time, but it’s not exactly the most titillating thing, typing on your Blackberry. I would probably be a lot more excited if my Kindle turned into a Fire (hopefully my Christmas present this year to myself).

Go to Sleep Earlier, Wake Up Later – 1-3 hrs depending
Epiphany: after being forced to wake up at 3 and 4 am to go to work, early mornings are not so terrible after all and are actually my most creative time. By the time I’m done with work my brain is completely filled with this special order or that install going awry while simultaneously trying to juggle customers, such that even after I clock out my mental CPU is running at 80% and I can’t seem to quit the various programs until doing a hard reboot. I now try to go to sleep by 9 or 10 so I can wake up at 6 or 7 and not feel like garbage. And work is a lot more easy to get through when I’ve already gotten the things I wanted to write/plan done. There’s nothing worse than sitting through a shift when you’d rather be reading or writing or prepping.

All told, that’s an extra 4-5 hours in the day potentially–another part time job’s worth, at least. So where do you find time during the day to get ready for your game or write your novel?

2 Responses to “How I Found More Free Time”

  1. JourneymanGM says:

    I think some gamemasters get the idea that prep time has to be a structured time when you sit down and write out stats and such. That’s not true especially with story-based games since inspiration can come from anywhere like you’ve talked about. Good luck finding the time to get excited about gaming.

    • lindevi says:

      That’s why I really liked the Never Unprepared book, whose guiding principle is that prep is supposed to make it easier to improv, because you know your non-player characters, you know their motivations, and you know the landscape in which they’re acting. Whether that involves writing a lot of things down or just jotting down notes of who/what/where on a docket is up to the style and needs of the GM.

      And lately, after a few gaffes in my own games (oh yeah, that clue you missed, here it is) I’m going back to spending more time prepping. I’m finding it’s on par with other stress reducing activities, like gaming and watching TV, if you’re excited about the material enough.

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