I have a problem.
Well, okay, if you’re here you probably are thinking “Well duh, Manda, you have a series of problems. You are an encyclopedia of problems.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it.
Today – well, all the time, but I’m just talking about it today – the problem is that I have to multitask or I can’t focus. I’m not sure what my deal is, but I can’t just sit and work on the same thing for hours at a time. I have to work on two things, or alternate 20 minutes at a time between several things. Often this multitasking can cause me to spend entirely too long on sites like Facebook or Google+ or Imgur or When Parents Text or anything that can capture my attention when I’m procrastinating.
So instead of forcing myself off of those sites (in the past I’ve seriously used an app that blocked Facebook for 2 hours at a time) I decided to harness them. They are mine now. I use them for the powers of good. Well, sometimes evil, but you get the picture.
So let’s talk about Cafe World. It’s this little cooking game by our hellish overlord Zynga that lets you cook little dishes and things and it’s all on timers. The timers are supposed to keep you coming back to the game, but for me they’re my secret weapon to maximizing productivity and staying off Facebook.
In the game you choose to cook things in your cafe. One of the first dishes you learn is Chips and Guacamole. It takes three minutes to cook. Three real-world minutes. So you start it cooking and you watch the little meter go down and that’s how they suck you in because you’re like “Look, it’s almost done!” and you sit around and wait.
Eventually you get some dishes that take 30 minutes to cook, or an hour, or even days. There’s a few that take like 72 hours or more to cook. And you think to yourself “This takes too long, why would I ever cook this?! I want to play RIGHT NOW.” So you cook the Chips and Guacamole until the cows come home and that’s all you serve and you don’t really level up.
But the 2-6 hour dishes…these are the real prize winners.
Generally speaking, when I start my “work day,” I line up a few different dishes. I have like 20 stoves now so I can do this, even though you start with just two. I add a couple that take a full day to cook, a couple that take 8 hours, a couple that take 6, etc. The shortest one is usually 2 hours.
Once it’s all set up, I log out of Facebook. I make a note on the clock of how long the two hour dish takes to cook and what time it will be done, and don’t return to Facebook in that time period. Each time I think I might wander over there, I tell myself “No, you can’t. Your food isn’t done cooking, so don’t go there.” So not only am I avoiding the game, but I’m also avoiding the endless black hole of links and funny pictures and status updates with it.
Throughout the evening while I work, I take breaks every 2 hours or so to check on my dishes. The 8-10 hour dish timers let me know how much time I have left in my day as a whole, and the shorter dishes tell me how long until my next break. Essentially, I’ve turned the game in to a time clock.
I know this doesn’t work for everybody, but for me it’s honestly helped increase my productivity tenfold. I no longer waste time playing stupid games and I’ve figured out how to enjoy the time I spend playing rather than hovering over pixelated food like a crack addict. Not to mention it helps remind me that I need to get up from the computer now and then, stop working, and refresh my brain a little bit.
So, that’s my dirty little secret of how I get work done. I’m a slave to Zynga games. Don’t look at me like that – I know you all have similar tricks.
Anyone care to share them?