While being a indie developer, I’ve experienced the super highs that result from getting a great idea and finally releasing it, as well as the the super lows that happen when too much stress inevitably overwhelms me. While trudging from valley to hilltop I’ve discovered little actions that greatly improved my spirits and which kept me moving forward through the seriously difficult path to become an entrepreneur. These actions are listed below in order to help you retain your sanity, health, and happiness while pursuing your dreams.

Move around

Want to get more done and be more effective? Then stop crunching the keyboard and move around! (read more)

Audio books

Being an entrepreneur means that there’s never enough time. You need to code the app, get sales training, write a business plan, patent everything, the list goes on … ahhhhhhh!!! While you will never get everything done, you can get more done by listening to sales training and business audio-books during lunch and breaks, when running your dog, while driving around town, and even when taking a shower. By converting down time to learning time you will increase your knowledge base and feel like you’re actually working-because you are!

Play a game

If you are feeling super stressed in the middle of the day, close the laptop, turn on an audio-book, and play a game for five to ten minutes. It could be a card game or video game, anything will work so long as most of your attention is on the audio book. By stepping away from the problem and focusing your attention on improving other required skills, you will be able to re-approach it with an improved attitude.

Get a cheerleader and buy m’ a drink

If you don’t already have a friend who brightens your day whenever they are around, join a club and find one! These kinds of friends are essential when being an indie developer because you will inevitably feel dumb for quitting your job, or you’ll feel like the idea isn’t actually that great, or something else gloomy will cross your thoughts, and they will provide the much required picker-upper. So, buy them a beer and let them rah-rah your spirits back to life. Note: This should NOT be your partner or family members because external validation is less bias and hence more rejuvenating.

Get a dog!

When my wife and I first moved into our new town she was walking our dog twice a day by herself, in order to give me an hour more to work. After about six months I finally decided to go with her and I’ve never regretted this decision. This is because I feel healthier and happier which significantly increased my effectiveness while working. Also, work is endless and life is not, so make time to live life; work can wait.

Change locations

When first working from home people think it’s great. They can get more done because they gained an average of two hours per day that was spent commuting. But, eventually, staying in the same place becomes monotonousness and lonely. So, go to a coffee shop or library occasionally. Simply moving locations will improve your mood. Don’t have enough money for a coffee each day, or is the library too loud-our certainly is, then move your desk to different rooms in the house. Simply, anything to break up the routine will also break up the monotony.

Dress for success

Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you get to wear pajamas all day. After all, you are still working and should dress like it. Get up each day as though you are going to be around other respectable people and as though you are ready to make a sale. If you don’t, you will start to feel sloppy which inevitably leads to low self-esteem and low morale.

When you’re high, stay high!

I’ve had weeks where I get stuck on parts of a project that have no end in sight and I’m SUPER frustrated from staying up until 2 am for weeks trying to solve the problem. Then, all of sudden, a couple of hours into the work day I finally and unexpectedly solve it. Then, I would immediately move on and start the next task. After experiencing this cycle numerous times I noticed that all difficult tasks seemed to blend into one massive problem that had no solution. This happened because I didn’t take enough time to enjoy each of the smaller successes. Now, I close down my laptop and do something fun for several hours before coming back and starting again. Simply put, I now take time to savor my successes and consequently the smaller problems rarely merge into one big un-tamable monster.

Music in the morning

I listen to audio books whenever possible, except in the morning. That’s because it’s best to get your heart pumping and start jiving before going to work each day.

Enjoy breakfast

It’s necessary to wake up each day and remember why you’re working your life away just to pursue an impossible dream. If you don’t do this, you’ll move farther and farther from you goals as you get deeper and deeper into the project. Then, all of a sudden you’ll feel lost and un-tethered. For me, there’s no better reminder than preparing a delicious breakfast and then sitting down with my wonderful partner while coffee roasts in the background.

Take time with friends

I was once so hell-bent on spending every waking hour working that eating frustrated me. After all, those three hours

could be better spent trying to complete my current project which would then allow me to make some money on it. Well, the truth is that small projects take a long time and large project can take a lifetime. So, just go out and enjoy your life while you’re still alive. You will notice a great improvement in your mood and effectiveness at work. Beware though, too much play will only increase your stress. Find your middle ground but always include at least one night to hang out and relax.

Rock solid abs with Calculus

The guiding principle of Calculus is that the infinite sum of infinitely small things can be quite large. Same goes for

your health. By doing a few sit-ups, push-ups, and short jogs a day you will have significantly better health and as a result your performance at work will also improve. So, set a timer on your phone and complete the following excercises daily.

  • 9:00am (~3min)
    • 30situps
    • 20pushups
    • 30 bicep curls
  • 12:00pm (~3min)
    • 30situps
    • 20pushups
    • 30 bicep curls
  • 3:00pm (~3min)
    • 30situps
    • 20pushups
    • 30 bicep curls
  • 5:00pm (~3min)
    • 30situps
    • 20pushups
    • 30 bicep curls

Note: Each workout consumes very little time and shouldn’t make you sweat too much.You could do more but the goal is to avoid triggering your “I don’t have time” mechanism in order to incrementally improve your health.

Reach Out

For a long time I felt that I didn’t have the time to devote to anybody else’s projects. After all, I didn’t have enough time for my own projects. But, then I sent one email to a local entrepreneur group and simply asked if I could volunteer some time. The group said yes and then I discovered it consisted of the ex-CEO of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, the best friend of the nephew of one of the world’s largest robotics company, and a TED X presenter. Few first attempts will yield such a goldmine of talented people, but, you never know until you try. At minimum, you’ll find some interesting people who can re-invigorate you-if not, find a different group.

Sleepless nights

I’ve had many sleepless nights as an independent developer and they’ve all been due to stress or working right up to bed time. The following have helped me sleep better:

  • Don’t drink coffee after 2 pm (read more)
  • Stop looking at electronic devices at least a half hour before bed-including TV and your phone!
  • If you are always working in the same room you sleep, try to work somewhere else so that your subconscious doesn’t associate your room with being awake
  • Try a sleeping aid-I take Benadryl which has the same active ingredients as sleeping aids
  • Focus on your breathing to distract your mind from stressful thoughts-this doesn’t always help though
  • If none of the above work, trying taking a sleeping aid a couple hours before bed and then working for as long as you can. If you like to go to bed early and get up early, this can screw up your sleeping cycle. But, you might as well be productive if you really can’t fall asleep. This is actually what I’ve had to do.

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