Treat life like a video game

That is basically my answer, when people ask how I manage to do all things I do in life.

But before elaborating what does it mean I need to introduce myself. It also happens to be my first blog post on Medium.

I am Web Architect and Consultant working for several clients in Israel and abroad. I am usually involved in really interesting projects mostly in JavaScript and React ecosystem. Speaking of which I am a co-organizer of ReactJS Israel group and active speaker in Israel.

Last couple of months I am writing a book on React Native and writing a React course for BovAcademy. Posts on a course and on a book will soon follow.

In addition to that I develop my own VR game in Unity3D and playing around with Unreal engine.

I am doing a research on Hololens and Mixed Reality which I personally think is exceptionally cool tech. Posts on this soon to follow.

I love IoT and I develop now React-IoT library which basically gives you the ability to write code for your IoT devices in React.

In addition to all tech related stuff I have 3 kids and amazing wife which supports me in all my endeavors.

I love sports and I attend gym every day.

So after listing all these things I do in my life the first question I get from people is the one listed above: “How for God’s sake you manage your time?”

I sometimes play video games. In fact I was playing video games since 1990. I haven’t considered myself gamer, but I loved the whole idea of escaping reality to be another character for a while. In 2000s I read tons of fantasy and sci-fi books, which are also a way to emerge yourself in a different world author thought about. Then came long period of playing Dungeon and Dragons games with friends and in 2002 I joined LARP community and even became fencing instructor and game master. For those of you who are not familiar with what LARP is here is a quote from wikipedia

A live action role-playing game (LARP) is a form of role-playing game where the participants physically act out their characters’ actions. The players pursue goals within a fictional setting represented by the real world while interacting with each other in character. The outcome of player actions may be mediated by game rules or determined by consensus among players. Event arrangers called gamemasters decide the setting and rules to be used and facilitate play.

I love how LARP simulates real life and let’s you interact with real people instead of using limited possibilities programmed by video game creator. It’s all about improvisation based on your character.

Several years ago I came to realization that Video Games and LARP are not so different from the real life. Let’s take a look at similarity between concepts used in Video Games and real life topics

Leveling up in certain skill

In Video Games, especially in Role play games (the type of games I favor the most), you have to invest your time in order to build your skill level. For example you have to kill lots of enemies using one handed sword to get skill level with this sword. Of course rules may vary from game to game, however the concepts stay similar:

one simple task doing repeatedly over time

These concepts were brought from a real life to a video game, however most people forgot how important it is to invest your time in specific skill to “gain a level”. Instead they invest their time into watching all kind of crap on TV.

As for me, meaning of gaining a higher level in real life is becoming fluent in any particular skill and then bringing proficiency to a level I can write a book, a course or lecture on this topic.

Gaining XP in Video Games

Then there are all kind of quests in Video Games. When you complete them you gain “XP” which stands for “Experience points”. That is for reason.

Think of attending local tech meetups and conferences, hackathons, participate in various challenges, contribute to open source. All these can be treated like “quests” in Role Play Game, but in real life. And they for sure increase your experience in that particular skill.

Meeting NPC

In Video games there is a concept of Non Played Characters. Basically it’s the character programmed to answer only specific things programmed by video game creator. You have limited choices in Video Games. In LARP, since you almost don’t have such thing as NPC, there are much more possibilities. In real life, they are limitless.

In real life your every word, every answer in different circumstances matters. Words are really powerful. So in order to progress in life, in my opinion, be nice to people. Help them when they need it, but learn where to put boundaries. That comes only with experimenting. Same as in Video games. The only problem is that you cannot “Save” your game :) to check all possibilities. It helps to read psychology books though to get around that limitation :)

Fatigue, Diseases and alcohol in games and in real life

In video games, fatigue and diseases often lower your skills. Same for alcohol. In real life it’s also the case. You cannot focus much when your are sick or drunk. So stay sharp all the time and do sports to increase metabolism. This will increase your “disease resistance” . This can be also done by “drinking potions” which in real life are multivitamins or nutritional supplements, which helps you to stay healthy and support you during sport activities.

But how do you manage your time?

Ok So I hope I made myself clear regarding how you should treat your life, however let’s take a look at more practical examples.

Let’s say you are an average programmer, that wakes up, sends kids to kindergarten/school gets to work in the morning and goes home in the evening. You play with kids in the evening, watch a favorite TV show, get kids to bed, then go to sleep. When weekend comes you are probably exhausted and you just chill in front of TV or go to the beach with the kids, then more TV and then to bed. Maybe once in a while you go for a trip outside of your town.

I hope I won’t offence anybody, but let’s how an average Joe or Jill life looks like. So Joe/Jill really wants to progress in life, but… he/she does not have any time right?

Well it’s not true. First of all you start from the basics. You start eating healthy food, quit on sugar, doing sports and sleeping for at least 6–7 hours a day. It will build up your constitution making yourself less prone to fatigue. Remember it’s nothing wrong to go to sleep before midnight and wake at 5:30. In fact it’s better for your health. Consider signing to a gym and going there in the morning. You will be surprised how your day will change. From being sleepy the whole morning feeding on coffee to produce code you will be motivated and sharp through the whole day.

Consider taking “potions” — nutrition supplements. For general use complex multivitamin should be enough. If you do lots of sports, consider taking other types of supplements. This will strengthen your whole body. When you are good with the basics you will feel that your energy level is high during the whole day.

Take a month and count everything you are doing on daily basis. In the end of the month you will see how much time went to unneeded things. Like staring at Facebook feed, watching TV shows or movies or just playing a game on your mobile phone when you take train home.

Let’s say that in average you are watching 2 hours of TV each day. Probably it’s more like an hour and several hours during the weekend. So let’s make it 2 on average. During the whole month you watch 60 hours of junk. An average Udemy course is 15 hours. In that month you could have learnt 4 new skills!! How cool is that. And that is only for simply stopping watching TV.

Well you may ask. Do you never watch TV? Actually I do. Usually when I run on a treadmill in the gym. Which brings me to another topic:

Multitask everything

Running on a treadmill and learning may sounds crazy, but for me it’s working for short courses or watching tv shows or even a movie to let my brain relax a bit while I work out. Or sitting on a toilet and instead of browsing Facebook feed for meaningless stories or cat pictures, you can join tech groups in particular field that you are interested in. You can listen to tech podcasts when you drive your car or even code if you take a train to work or home.

Yeah it means you are more connected to various devices, but you are more adapted to the fast pace of technological progress.

It does not mean that you have to become cyborg and multitask during vacation or when being with family and kids. It just means that you need to multitask unimportant staff. You should watch TV sometimes with your family, but the key word here is sometimes. Then you also enjoy that more.

What if you can’t stay focused all the time

Define several skills you want to learn. Maybe even in one field and then switch between them when you are bored or exhausted from learning one of them. Your brain will treat this switch as a brake and you will be more productive in the skill you switched to. For me it’s about switching between Web/Mobile VR/AR/MR and IoT.

How to stay motivated

Don’t finish courses. It does not mean that you should start and don’t finish any particular course, but it means that even if you have an urge to finish the whole chapter, stop. Then you will be motivated to get back and continue learning.

“Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.”

That’s from Hemingway on Writing by Larry W. Phillip. It’s about writing, but for me it also works for learning and coding.

The recipe of exceptional time management

  • Eat well
  • do sports
  • multitask everything
  • invest in self studying
  • socialize with tech community members
  • participate in meetups, conferences, hackathons, contribute to open source
  • be nice to people

When I was a kid I dreamt about inventing a time machine and going to the future. I haven’t invented it, but adapting to the technological progress and being the one familiar with cutting edge technology is basically being the one building the future and changing the world. I hope the concept of treating life like a video game will help you to change your life too.

To be the point of arrowhead that is propelling towards the future.