Friday, March 20, 2020

Making Twitch a Part of Your Life

There are two major problems Twitch streamers run into as they grow, both of which are detrimental in their own ways. In the beginning, they have a hard time making streaming into a habit and sticking with it. Then, as they get better at being consistent, they have a hard time making a habit out of everything else. Finding that balance is a constant struggle- if you can't bring yourself to do enough streaming your creative life could suffer, and if you don't know when to stop streaming your personal life could suffer. Whether you're not yet consistent in your streams or you're having a hard time prioritizing activities outside of Twitch, I'm going to help you find a middle ground and make Twitch a part of your life.


Stay on target.
Before bothering to worry about cutting back on your streaming, you must first make sure you're actually streaming consistently. Thinking about moderation in your streams too early can cause your channel to never get off the runway, for fear of flying too close to the Sun. If you're having trouble streaming every single day you plan to stream, then becoming consistent should be your first priority. I've covered several topics in the past on how to find time, motivation, or consistency in your streaming life, and this would be a good time to revisit those entries.

It really comes down to not questioning yourself. You have a dream. You want to become a Twitch streamer. The road ahead will have its ups and downs. Some days it will be easy and some days it will be hard, but you simply have to trust your original feelings. Try all sorts of ideas within your streams and don't be opposed to altering or ditching them, but don't ever give up on being a streamer.


If you ever find yourself lost and don't know how you'll find the time in your day to stream, there's a simple time management strategy you can turn to. It's called the Eisenhower Decision Matrix. This axiom is based on a quote attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower, who remarked, "I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important and the important are never urgent." For our purposes, the 'urgent' problems are the everyday trials of the real world (work deadlines, chores, anything that doesn't further our ultimate goals), and the 'important' problems are our creative aspirations like Twitch streaming. The key to properly utilizing this mantra is to always address the important problems before the urgent ones.

This may sound counter-intuitive. After all, the urgent problems have to be done right now, and as soon as those are done you'll be free to work on all the creative endeavors you want! But in reality, it never actually goes that way. If it did, no one would ever have a problem following their dreams and sticking with their life goals. In reality, most people simply spend their days addressing their most urgent problems, clocking in and out of work, getting housework done, organizing things, answering emails, shopping for supplies, and everything else that seems so important in the moment. Here's the thing: if you can carry out the things important to your life's ambitions first, you'll still find time to do the urgent things afterwards too. If they're really that urgent, you won't have a choice- you'll simply have to find time to do them, right?

This kind of prioritizing is what will help you to make sure Twitch is solidly embedded into your day-to-day. It's a matter of turning the non-urgent into the urgent by shifting around your schedule. If you use this technique, as well as many of the time-saving and distraction removing strategies I've laid out in previous entries, you should be well on your way to embedding Twitch into your lifestyle.


Try to stay balanced.
While many people struggle to make Twitch a consistent part of their lives, others who have already been streaming consistently will struggle to bring Twitch back into balance with everything else. On a platform like this, extreme effort over a long span of time is what gets you rewarded, because  success is mostly driven by who is able to keep creating content the longest. And to reach this point, we typically send ourselves into a state of overdrive. This is natural- it requires a disruption in the daily routine in order to make anything into a habit, and as long as you're honest with friends and loved ones about what you're trying to do, they are likely to support you. But when is the right time to ease away from this state of hyper-efficiency? This is where it becomes trickier.

If you do anything long enough, it will become a habit. And once Twitch takes the place of all those old habits you used to have a hard time breaking, you'll find that your streaming lifestyle can cause you to spiral out of control just as easily as Netflix binges or 3am Wikipedia deep dives. Ironically, I had more of a problem reining in my streaming habits than I did actually bringing Twitch into my life in the first place. There was a point where I was shunning so much of the outside world that I barely saw anyone important to me. I'm not proud to say that in my quest to grow as quickly as possible, I damaged some of my most important personal relationships. I realized I was experiencing something like what a gambler feels, always hoping the next stream would be 'the big one,' and not wanting to let anything jeopardize my chances. It simply wasn't sustainable, but I couldn't see that from where I was standing at the time.

Eventually I realized that I should be using the Eisenhower Decision Matrix not just for streaming, but also for my personal life. Netflix, chores, emails and other busywork tasks were still to be done last, but along with streaming I needed to also make more time for the other things that were major priorities to me, like family and friends. I also realized that I was more interested in growing my stream than in the pure act of streaming itself, and that was a problem. So I stopped focusing so intently on the rapid expansion of my brand, and instead became more at home with just doing what I wanted to do. I scheduled my streams more strictly, giving them very little wiggle room for where to end, so I wouldn't always be late to things. I'd shift start times and even shorten my streams more aggressively when I had plans to see people, so I wouldn't be cutting it close. Even during this time of re-envisioning my channel's plan I never missed a stream or took a break, but this transition was an important time for me to reflect on how I wasn't making Twitch a part of my life- Twitch was becoming my life. And that's dangerous.


At the end of the day, if you want Twitch to become a part of your life, it's not just about letting it into your daily routine, but also about not letting it dominate your every waking thought. Anyone who's been following The Twitch Playbook for a while will recognize that I've been talking about not chasing followers, and not losing sight of other things important to you for a while. But I've never shared my personal story of just how dangerous it can be to leave the dial at 11 for too long. Many streamers at this point become burned out and give up. I was lucky enough to simply realize my mistake and change course. But if you can find a way to consistently stream with Twitch as a part of your life instead of letting it take over, you'll be avoiding many of the biggest hardships on the platform.

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