Sunday, August 28, 2022

How to Prioritize Your Streams

We all share a common passion for streaming. But despite enjoying the act, it can be hard to stick to our intended regimen every scheduled day. Whether other plans interfere, unexpected events occur, or we simply can’t find the energy, the habit of broadcasting is difficult to form. In the past, I’ve explored several ways to combat this issue: improving habits, removing self-doubt, finding little things to love about the craft, and better organizing your days are a few of the topics we’ve gone over so far. One point which majorly helps me with my own streams is deceptively simple: I make them a priority. I fight against demotivation, anticipate scheduling problems, and even take responsibility for the unexpected. In this entry we’ll look at the various ways to prioritize your streams. 


Whatever you attach to the end of the 
stick, make sure it motivates you. 

Sometimes, despite having a passion for your Twitch channel, it can be hard to get yourself to sit down and go live. There might not even be any other things you have to do that day, you just... can’t do your stream. This sense of general repulsion from your intended task is what writers, artists and other creatives refer to as ‘block.’ In the entry
Trick Yourself into Being More Productive, I spoke about one of the techniques I’ve personally found most effective in getting my work done: the ‘carrot on a stick method.’ In order to ensure your streaming habit doesn’t fall by the wayside, try denying yourself something else you really want to do that day until you’ve gone live. You’ll find it much easier to go live when your stream is the only thing holding you back from watching a movie, ordering food, building a LEGO set, or whatever other leisure activity you were looking forward to. 

You also don’t need to stream for the same amount of time every time you go live. Sometimes, on bad days, that expected broadcast length might be what’s holding you back. When you’re low on motivation, tell yourself that it’s enough to simply go live at all. Don’t worry about how long the broadcast will be. As anyone who’s built a habit can tell you, it’s more important to simply keep the trend going than it is to do it the same way every time. And as an added bonus, you might find that once you’ve taken the leap and started your show, you have more energy than you previously expected. There have been plenty of demotivated days where I thought I’d do a truncated stream, only to end up doing a full-length show anyway. 


As I’ve mentioned in other entries, I fly around the country a lot for work. On some of those days I have enough stopovers, Ubers and time zone changes that I’d leave in the morning and arrive in the dead of night. In those cases, it would become very easy to fall behind on my streams. I’d likely be tired from traveling and not want to go live that night. And since I go live three times per day, that means I could quickly end up three shows behind. 

In these cases, I anticipate the hectic nature of the trip by frontloading streams before I leave. On the day before I leave for a business trip I’ll often do five or more broadcasts, in order to give myself some breathing space for that next day of travel. I might not technically be doing three streams on the travel day, but the three shows scheduled for that day do get done. I also might not be doing shows of my usual episode length, but again, at least they happen. In this way, I’ve been able to allow streaming to fit around my lifestyle, and not become a burden. No matter how many times you go live in a given week, you can still employ this same basic concept. If you know you have something big planned for the next day, do yourself a favor and simply go live early. By getting your stream out of the way beforehand, you won’t have to worry about it later. 


Duolingo has become something I look 
forward to doing every day.

I also have the somewhat unusual requirement of needing to do one of my streams specifically on each calendar day. As I’ve spoken about in earlier entries, one of my daily broadcasts is a quick study session in Duolingo. I’ve kept up this streak for over 1,200 days so far, and each one of those daily learning sessions has been broadcast live on my channel. The Duolingo app requires that you log in and complete reviews specifically on each day of the calendar. This means I can’t frontload all of my streams when getting ready for a trip- the video games or other activities can be moved around, but Duolingo has to happen once a day no matter what.

This means Duolingo is the riskiest of my shows, and is a higher priority than my other streams. When that show happens is directly proportional to the nature of my day. If I’m home and don’t have any plans, I can leave my Duolingo broadcast until later on. Since my study habit is very well-established, there’s very little risk of missing my streak if I don’t have anything else to do that day. But if I’m going on a business trip, I always get the Duolingo episode done before leaving for my flight. For the same reason I frontload other streams, I never leave my Duolingo shows to be completed when I arrive at my destination. If I’m on an extended vacation, I’m even stricter with myself about doing these shows. It’s easiest to lapse on your habits when you’re having fun doing something else. Therefore, I don’t let myself have fun until I complete my habit. In Japan, Greece, and any other trip I’ve taken, I didn’t allow myself to leave the hotel until I’ve completed my Duolingo show. This has ensured I could enjoy the rest of my day without having to worry.


Notice that many of the things I’m ‘planning’ for in these cases may never come to be. It’s very possible that my flight would arrive on time during a business trip, or that I’d come back to my room on vacation with time to spare for my Duolingo show. However, it’s irrelevant whether something bad does happen, it only matters how likely it is to happen. Am I more likely to miss my stream on a day when I’m lounging at home, or on a day when I’m flying 12 hours to Greece? Yes, I might be able to get my show done on the day I go to Greece, but because there’s a higher chance I’d miss my show that day, I don’t leave it to chance. This mindset has saved me from missing any of my three scheduled broadcasts for the past several years now, and it’s saved me from breaking my Duolingo streak for 1,200 days and counting. 

The nice thing about all of these strategies is that they allow you to prioritize streaming without having to push anything else out of the way. Typically, streamers are extremely rigid about their schedules and stream lengths. These self-imposed rules not only make it harder to find the motivation to go live, but they can also interfere with your plans to have fun outside your streams. Have you ever canceled plans or turned down an invitation to do something because your stream was scheduled for the same time? Have you ever missed a scheduled stream because you were doing something else during the show’s appointed time? Maybe you simply couldn’t make yourself go live, even without any other plans. If any of these are true, try some of the techniques I’ve described above. It’s possible to have your cake and eat too, if you take the right steps to prioritize your streams. 

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