What I've Learned From Time Management Games

In that little bit of spare time I have during the day, I love those time management games on the computer. Whether it's building a farm, running a restaurant or designing your own gym, I really enjoy testing my reflexes and making that little character a success in her business.

Whether they know it or not, the designers of these games have actually woven in some lessons we all could learn and apply in real life. It sounds like a stretch but look at this...

* Plan ahead. The only way to win a time management game is to know what's coming up and plan accordingly. If you don't have enough points or cash to buy the upgraded whatever, then you can't advance in the game. In your home, you can't buy necessities if you're not budgeting. You can't have dinner ready if you didn't buy the right ingredients. You won't have time to yourself if you don't schedule well. Look to the day or the week ahead and have everything you need to be efficient.

* Buy what you need to finish quickly... but remember that you have to take care of whatever you own. I think about my favorite farm game - I have tons of money saved up, but I'm not spending as I could be because then I would have to feed extra cows, fix more machines and plow more fields. In the real world, we get overwhelmed with "things" and then stuff them in a closet to gather dust. What we "had" to have last week because we had the money is something that's not so important this week. Budget for what you need, what you'd like and what would be nice to have.

* No money for a new item? Sell some of what you've got tucked away. The restaurant game will let you sell back recipes you don't need anymore so you can get what you'll need for the harder levels. Remember those "had-to have" items you put in the closet? Have a garage sale or put them up on ebay to make some quick money. Use your crafty skills to use up some old supplies and sell them. Let what you already own work for you.

* Get slower tasks done first. Most games have put in laundry first thing in the morning so it can be running all morning. Then I can have everything dry and put away before they day's over. Make dinner in the slow cooker first thing so you don't have to think about it later in the day. Start these time-consuming chores first, then you can move on to tasks that really need your attention. Talk about multi-tasking without actually trying!

* Organizing saves time.
While playing, you learn to put the ketchup machine near the tomato patch. Place the cash register near the front door. Keep up cleaning the new messes while attacking the old ones. Any woman will tell you that organizing pays off, whether they actually implement it or not. If you spend even ten minutes every day setting things in order, you will save buckets of time and energy later. You won't have to search for things tomorrow or get frantic because you can't find what you need when you need it - call organization a sanity saver!

* Serve customers before they run out of patience.
This is just my personality, but I do tasks for other people before I do the ordinary stuff. Then they can handle their end of the job/enjoy the project/have something in their hands sooner than if I'd waited until the last minute. In the games, people lose patience and you get fewer points when you're running behind. Here in the world, it's a blessing when you put other people before yourself.

* Know when to take a break.
If I play any time management game for too long, I go cross-eyed and I don't want to play again for a few days. This is the same in life - if you don't take R&R time every now and then, you won't feel like participating anymore. You've got an overly-busy day? Schedule in time to read a book or grab a coffee. Call a friend for a few minutes or run an errand to get out of the house. A little time now will bring you more joy when you jump back in.

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