We are increasingly fortunate to live in a place and time where entertainment is plentiful, and we have time and energy to devote to it. Sometimes, though, we go overboard in this area of life. As a result we end up with a huge backlog of video games. From Steam sales to the intoxicating allure of a brand new, shrink-wrapped box, if you’ve got a lengthy list of games left untouched, here are the steps to set yourself free! Once you do, you’ll find you have more time for gaming than ever, and be generally happier as well.
Step 1: Set Your Goal
Do you want to completely demolish your backlog, or merely reduce it? Knowing your overall goal at the start is vital, because it keeps you on track. Determine how much of a backlog, if any, you’re comfortable keeping, then move on to the next step once that knowledge is firmly in your head.
Step 2: Stop Buying Games
Alas, the first real step may be the most difficult. There is no conceivable way – barring perhaps quitting your job and becoming a recluse – that you will extinguish your backlog while constantly throwing more coals on that particular fire. The first step is to courageously declare that no new purchases will be made until the backlog is defeated.
This can actually be motivation to help you along. If there’s a game release you’ve been looking forward to, using that as your Backlog Deadline may be the push you need. Decide that you will only purchase the new game if you manage to clear at least X percentage of your backlog first. Then stick to that vow.
Step 3: Eliminate the “Eh”
We’ve all bought a Humble Bundle with a few titles we might not have truly wanted, or picked up a game or two because of a great Black Friday sale. It happens. That said, now is the time to really consider deeply if your time and energy is worth each and every game on your list.
Some games are just not interesting enough to warrant your time. Your time is precious and valuable. Some would say it is the most valuable thing you possess. So go through your backlog and delete, sell, or give away any games that do not immediately beg you to be played. It’s okay, someone else can enjoy them. If, after your backlog is finished, you even remember what those that you discarded are, you can always get them individually again and play them immediately upon repurchase. It’s completely okay to do that.
This can be a difficult step, don’t get me wrong. We as human beings have great aversions to “missing out.” When you own something you never used, the natural inclination is to keep it, just in case. However your backlog is not bringing you joy, but stress. It is a monkey on your back, and your life will be better without it clinging to you. By eliminating the “eh” games, you eliminate a burden on your life.
Step 4: Play
Finally, a fun step! Once you’ve eliminated the average or uninteresting games, start playing. Not in five minutes. Not tomorrow. Right now. Pick a game at random, or choose the one that you most want to try out in the moment. You don’t have to play long; even five minutes is fine. But you must start, and you must start now. Your backlog exists because you failed to start, and it’s time to rectify that.
If you find, which often happens, that 10 minutes into a game you aren’t having fun, you may need to return to Step 3 and say farewell to that game. Why spend valuable time not being entertained by something you bought FOR entertainment? Don’t put it back “for later.” If you aren’t enjoying it now, you probably won’t in a week from now. If you change your mind, there is no one saying you can’t rebuy the game at that time. Let’s be honest with ourselves, though. We probably aren’t going to rebuy it. Instead, choose another game you will actually enjoy and say goodbye to the one that wasn’t the right fit for you. The worst thing you can do is waste your limited time on a game that doesn’t delight you. What’s the point of playing, then?
Step 5: Schedule Future Playing Time
It seems odd to schedule fun, but it helps a lot. When you’re finished with Step 4 for the day, schedule time either later on or the following day to jump back into the game you just started (or choose another title if that one didn’t end up being your cup of tea).
If you keep this up, your scheduled time to play games may become a highlight of your day. Suddenly you have transformed your backlog from something stressful that drags you down to an uplifting experience! You will find you actually want to play, rather than just feeling guilty about not doing so for so long. That is the change we want to encourage. Games should not bring about guilt. They exist for the opposite reason.
Step 6: Recommit to Step 2 or 3
After a bit of time, you will want to buy a new game again. It is inevitable. At that point, recommit to Step 2 or 3. Either eliminate games from your backlog until you’ve reached your Goal Number, or do not buy that new game. It will be hard, but it is worth it. You are literally transforming your life and the way you value your time and money. Give it a shot!
Beyond Your Backlog
Once you’ve eliminated (or drastically reduced) your backlog, you will feel a lot better. It will be like a weight was lifted off your shoulders. Then the key becomes not inviting the weight back on!
Going forward, when you buy a game, play it immediately. Open the package as soon as you get home, or click the play button once the download is complete. Give it at least 10 minutes right away. Enjoy the experience. After all, you just laid down hard earned money to bring it into your life.
The best thing you can do is refuse to return to the Backlog lifestyle. It will mean that, yes, you miss out on some games on occasion. That’s okay. There is always the chance to play them later, and frankly most of them may not be worth your time anyway. What is worth your time is truly enjoying the games you do buy and play, guilt free. This will also make you appreciate the games you have much more than you ever did when they were stacked in a dusty pile, wishing you would play them. It will be a far better way to live.
Now go forth and conquer that backlog!