Striking the balance between playing Half Life and calculating Half Life is key.

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Four tips for balancing school and video games

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By Alexander Hope

For just about as long as I can remember, I’ve been a huge fan of video games. My favourite memories are of waking up early, sitting in front of the TV in my pyjamas and immersing myself in a beautiful world. Few activities could match the excitement and exhilaration I felt when completing in-game goals or besting my friends in a match of Mario Kart, or Halo. Gaming has always been a joy, so much so that it often becomes a distraction.

After attending Ryerson University and taking on new responsibilities, my relationship with gaming became more and more complicated. No longer could I get away with extended gaming sessions and I decided that I needed to balance my lifestyle. So, if you’re like me and you find that sometimes video games are a major distraction from getting your work done, then this article is for you. Here are four easy tips to help you crush some bad gaming habits and finally get those 4.0’s you’ve been striving for.

1. Remove Video Games From Your Study Environment

Today, our homes are more connected to video games than ever before. You probably have a game console or two under the TV in your living room, a desktop computer with gaming programs installed and even a tablet or a smartphone with Candy Crush or Angry Birds. With so much gaming close by, it’s no surprise that the temptation to play games sometimes trumps the responsibility to study.

If you can separate your gaming environment from your study environment, you may be able to alleviate this. Try studying away from home. Ryerson has many locations for studying, so bring a few friends along to study with you. The more the environment around you encourages that you work productively, the less you will feel the temptation to continue from where you left off in Metal Gear Solid V.

2. Increase the Difficulty Involved in Accessing your Video Games

By increasing the number of steps involved in accessing your games, you can make homework the more approachable option. One way to do this is to create two different accounts on your PC — one for video games and one for work — that only features the programs absolutely necessary for your homework. This way, in order to access your games you will have to go through the process of  logging out, or switching accounts instead of simply clicking Steam on your Desktop.

You can even set a password for your gaming profile that reads something like, “didifinishmyhomework” just to make you feel extra guilty if you try to slack off. If gaming on your web browser is also a concern, try downloading extensions like StayFocusd that track the time you spend on distracting websites. Programs like FocalFilter block distracting websites entirely.

3. Be More Selective About the Types of Games You Play

There are so many different types of video games and some require much more time than others. In order to ensure you make the most of your time, it’s important that you choose to play games that work well with your schedule. If you’re busy and have a lot of homework to complete, then maybe investing in a 100+ hour JRPG or a virtually endless MMO is not an effective use of your time.

Playing a few matches of Call of Duty or Super Smash Brothers with some friends may eat up a little less of your schedule and let you get back to your homework without feeling like there was so much left to complete and explore. Ultimately, it’s important that you consistently assess the amount of work that you have on your plate and then choose the video game accordingly.

4. Include Video Games as a Part of Your Reward System

Another way to add some balance to your homework and gaming relationship is to only play games after completing your work for the day. Make video games your personal reward after a long day of work, so that the next time you play you can do so guilt-free. Try setting a personal schedule for your day, outlining the what needs to be completed and the reward you plan to receive for doing so. You can even use apps, such as HabitRPG, that help you develop productive habits. Altogether, this process can help turn the aspect of gaming from a distraction to a motivator and ensure that the time you spend working is met with focus and efficiency.

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