Thursday, May 29, 2014

Updates & Making Time to Game

I've been shifting a few things around. My Virtual Game tanked. I suppose I partially tanked it myself, but we had one player start his night job and was unable to continue. Then I couldn't make Thursdays anymore--schedules were a bit hairy anyway--so we called it off for the time being. I will say it still holds possibilities.

So I sat down with my calendar, may all year calendar and began looking at all of my obligations and ... I called my brother.

My brother is a very busy man as well. He has a young family, he is a very successful business man and is starting to go back to, believe it or not, med school! And yet somehow he manages to game. So I called him and asked him once again how the heck he does it. For I too am a father of a very busy family, I am a school administrator (read way too busy) and also work a night and summer job. I also am finishing a master's degree. And I have been unable to do it. It being of course game with any semblance of regularity.

For the longest time I was running our school's gaming club, back when I was a lowly teacher and had a bit more time on my hands. But it was a natural extension of my work day. My afternoon responsibilities as a teacher were a little more flexible, so I just planned on having the gaming club meet three days after school each week. Voila! I was gaming very regularly, and still home or at my night job by 5:00 every night. Granted it was gaming with teenagers, but it was gaming.

But when I changed jobs, things changed. A lot of things changed. And it has been very hard to find a regular time to game. I did find a good adult group in time, but I tanked on them right off. Eventually they found someone else to take my spot and I don't blame them. I was far from regular. Unfortunately they too had a hard time making a regular go of it--so it might not have just been me. Then of course there was my virtual game and my family game. The virtual game you know about, and my family game has yet to take off--school just got out, so we are thinking about starting soon.

Well, as I talked with my very busy, yet somehow more gaming successful brother, he pointed out the obvious problem by referring to himself. He had actually said this before, but it had never stuck. He said "I could not game more than twice a month right now." He has realized that in his busy schedule two game nights a month are best for him. Strangely enough it has also been enough for his gaming friends, who are not nearly as busy as he is. There are a couple that game more than once a week, but they are involved with other groups. So lesson number one: realize how much time you actually have.

So I whipped out my yearly calendar and charted out almost everything I could think of that ate up my time.

Next, my brother communicated something else to me that was key to his success. He "made" time for gaming on those nights. It was a pre-scheduled arrangement on his calendar. It was what his wife and family were aware of and comfortable with. And it took a near emergency to shift that gaming time. We all know that as Stephen Covey says "Sharpening the Saw" is critical to our success. That means taking time for yourself, your hobbies, your relaxation. You owe it to yourself and to those around you to find time to make yourself happy and satisfied. So set the time and make it sacred. So lesson number two: make gaming time sacred.

So I began penciling in times when I could game amidst my very busy schedule, and I began talking with the people around me to see if those times worked for them and their schedules.

Another thing my brother has taught me, is that you can't bite off more than you can chew. I mean you can bite it off, but you don't get much further than that. And I was notorious for doing that. I didn't just start one game, I had tried to start TWO! And weekly sessions at that. Of course for me I'm looking for that weekly fix, even more if I can get it, because I love to game so much. However, it's just a recipe for disaster if you are unable to manage it. It has been for me numerous times. So lesson number three, take it in small manageable steps.

So it began to look like two Saturday evenings a month were what was possible. It began to look like things were coming together.

Lastly, my brother has told me many times when I start projects, "Don't psyche yourself out." Now, to psyche yourself out means to get so worried about something that you talk yourself out of doing you. You essentially psychologize yourself into rationalizing away something you are going to do. I am notorious for this as well. This comes from my problem solving orientation. I am constantly on the look out for problems--problems to solve, it's just who I am. Whenever I set out on an endeavor or project I begin troubleshooting possible problems. At work this works really well for me, because I'm forced to solve the problems. But in my personal life, where the stakes aren't so high, or at least don;t feel so high, I let the problems trouble, worry and eventually defeat me. It begins to seem like life is too much like work, and I'd rather just sit on the couch watching Star Trek re-runs. So, lesson final: don't psyche yourself out. Either solve the problems or ignore them if they are trivial.