Friday, October 2, 2020

Make Sure to Rest from Streaming

It's hard to form a habit like Twitch streaming, and when life gets tough it can be even harder to keep that habit going. Once you've been doing it consistently for a long time, the memories of how difficult that habit was to establish can help keep you chugging along. But sometimes we can lose ourselves in the process of building our channels. We may find ourselves putting in more and more work, but not getting as much return for our efforts. Sometimes as we commit increased hours to our streams, the results don't just plateau- they actually get worse. And of course, once you've made a habit out of committing huge parts of your day to streaming, you might find it hard to spend time doing other things outside of your channel. It's easy to write all this off as natural speed bumps in the road to success. You may feel that you'll be able to iron out all the kinks once you've reached some goal, so you don't need to worry about your other commitments now. But it's important to maintain a larger perspective about what you're doing. If you don't take care of yourself every once in a while, you'll begin dropping the ball, both on stream and off. Let this entry be a reminder that you need to schedule time to rest from streaming. 


If you're trying to build your channel and keep habits going, it might be hard to see how resting is a valuable thing to do at all. If you aren't live, and you aren't working on your channel, then how does that help your stream? If your ultimate dream is to broadcast on Twitch, then shouldn't you be doing that as often as humanly possible? To an extent yes, but without some level of moderation you'll end up hurting yourself more than helping. Allow me to explain this concept by taking us over a century back in time.
Don't let history repeat itself.

After the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the opportunities for manufacturing increased exponentially. Suddenly, factories in the 1800s could produce in a day the amount of products that used to take them weeks or months by previous methods. These businesses only required one thing in common: able-bodied workers able to operate the machinery. And in exploring these new technologies, factory owners weren't satisfied with merely leaping past their old production figures, they wanted to push those numbers as far as they could possibly go. This meant that workers were typically on the job anywhere from 12 to 14 hours, six days a week, with many putting in as many as 100 hours in a seven-day span. Not only did this mean they couldn't spend much time with their families, but it led to major problems with drinking on their one day off. Because workers would get so incredibly drunk on those work-free Sundays, it led to coining the concept of "Saint Monday," a day in which employees would regularly skip work entirely so they could recover from their epic binges. They were being worked so hard that any time they were given for themselves sent them into overdrive, wrecking their family lives and eventually their work lives in the process. 

This brutal schedule went on for decades, until in 1926, business titan Henry Ford made an unprecedented move. He changed his auto company's schedule to five 8-hour working days, without altering employees' pay. This gave workers more time to spend with their families, and more time to enjoy themselves safely, without feeling like they had to cram all their debauchery into one single night. The Ford Motor Company clearly won a lot of good will with its employees, who were able to turn in better results by being less sleep-deprived and stressed, despite being on the clock for fewer hours. The move even helped the economy, because workers with more free time on their hands ended up buying more products. This counter-intuitive decision rocked the American labor force, and soon other businesses were adopting the practice. Today, almost a century later, the 40-hour work week is still an established paradigm. 

We can all learn a thing of two from Henry Ford's groundbreaking move- more work doesn't always mean better results. Sometimes you need to take a step back, recharge, and approach your challenges with a fresh perspective to be truly efficient. Plus, by giving yourself time to rest you'll be able to spend more time doing the other things you care about, and keeping your life in balance. 


Now I don't know what you do on your Twitch streams, but it's unlikely that it's as intensive as working in an automotive factory. But no matter what you're spending your energy on, you still need some time to yourself. Many streamers find it useful to schedule one or two rest days every week. If going live every day is important to you, it can even be as simple as making sure there's ample time each day dedicated to non-Twitch activities. As I mentioned in the entry Making Twitch a Part of Your Life, many new streamers struggle to make Twitch a consistent part of their days, while others who have already been streaming consistently will struggle to bring Twitch back into balance with everything else. With the momentum of a pair of tipping scales, experienced streamers start to face the exact same problem that new streamers encounter, but in reverse. They're so used to making a stream happen at all costs that it becomes hard to schedule leisure time around all the streaming, community engaging, and behind-the-scenes adjusting. 

You can't be at 100% forever. Nobody can.

New or prospective streamers might think this sounds like a nice problem to have. But having been in this situation before, I can say from experience that it's not pleasant when you know you're hurting yourself and your relationships but also can't rein in the habit. For people who are stuck in the deep end now, I suggest taking advantage of the extreme discipline you've created by streaming, and redirecting it. Take out your calendar and literally schedule chunks of time where you have to do something that isn't stream-related. This could involve spending time with loved ones, watching a movie, going out for a walk, or cooking a nice dinner. It may sound completely ridiculous to be so rigid about it, but when you've caught the bug and can't stop yourself from thinking about streaming, you'll find that any 'down-time' in your day begins to get taken over by creeping stream-related activities. If you're not preventing against this phenomenon, you might only be halfway paying attention at dinner because you're thinking about new channel ideas, or you'll take the few hours you have before bed to tinker with stream graphics and layouts. Maybe you fill the gaps in your day looking at new equipment, watching other streamers, or talking with your Discord. Even if these things aren't actually streaming, they're still related to your stream, and they represent an unwillingness to completely detach yourself from the craft for a while. Finding a stream-life balance means making a clean break from Twitch. Not just being off the air, but removing your channel from your mind entirely while you mentally recuperate. 


You might feel that resting is only going to slow you down, but if you do so responsibly, you'll find that it does anything but. Like with Henry Ford's employees when given regulated working hours and another day off, you'll see that your performance while on the clock actually improves, and you get to strengthen your personal life while you're at it. So try marking out scheduled days, or even scheduled hours for yourself. See how much you can gain by giving yourself a rest from streaming.

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