5 Time Management Tips For Busy Roleplayers

From JohnnFour

Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0013

One of my biggest challenges as a game master today is time management. There’s just too much to do in my professional and personal life to devote as much time as I really want towards my #1 hobby: Roleplaying.

Wizards Of The Coast just released the following information*, as part of an overall gaming industry report. It gives the top reasons why gamers stop gaming:

  • Got too busy with other things: 79%
  • Too few people to play with: 63%
  • Not enough time to play: 55%
  • Found a game I liked better: 38%
  • Unhappy with the game and the rules: 38%
  • Cost too much money: 32%
  • Burnt out from frequent play: 29%

The top three reasons caught my attention as early warnings about time management. (Although Wizards did not comment on reason #2, I believe part of the reason there are too few people for some to play with is that potential players don’t have enough time.)

So, I better accept the challenge that I need to do more gaming in less time and look for ways to keep my hobby thriving–because the reality is that life is only going to get busier!

Here then are five time management tips for you, so that you can carve out more precious time to play.


I’m guilty of not doing this well. But it really does help a busy game master if the players can lend a hand. Have someone take care of the pre-session details for you, such as playing time, playing location, menu, snacks and car pooling.

Also enlist the players to perform rules research during sessions so you can focus on other things. Depending upon your group, you may even have the opportunity of letting a player handle the monsters once in awhile–including their pre-game planning and tactics.

Use A Campaign Newsletter

I covered campaign newsletters in Issue #7 and they are a fantastic way to get more done in less time. Use a campaign newsletter to update world events; create needed campaign information such as NPCs, unique monsters, and setting information; organize your records and session information; organize your players; and communicate with your group about important story and campaign issues all in one fell swoop.

Think About It

I bet you can get in 30 minutes of really good session and story planning time each and every day without it costing you an extra minute!

When you’re doing something that safely allows your mind to wander, use that time to think about roleplaying:

  • Transit, commuting
  • Housework
  • Standing in line anywhere and everywhere
  • In the shower
  • Brushing your teeth
  • On your breaks and lunch

The secret is to have an agenda to focus on and complete. What do you need to plan, create or determine for your campaign and next session.

It takes practice to consistently focus your thoughts, but the reward is at least 3 bonus hours of planning a week– hours that you are using anyway and do not need to make room for in your busy life. Think about it.

Create Protected Time & Guard It

If you practice #3, you’ll find that when you sit down at the keyboard, or with paper and pen, the ideas and information will come streaming out in a highly distilled manner. What used to take you an hour to write, after pauses, revisions and editing, can be streamed out in 15 minutes. All because it is well thought out in your head.

So, figure out time during the week where you can concentrate entirely on roleplaying, protect that time, and then joyfully use it. No phone calls, email, tv or chores. It’s just you and roleplaying. Even a half hour, twice a week, consistently used, will let you get a lot done.

Focus On Results

I’m very guilty of spinning off on unproductive tangents while planning. During your thinking time and protected time, ask yourself what really needs to get done so that next session is exciting, compelling, and enjoyable for all.

Do you really need to type out that chart, or will a bookmark for quick reference during play do just as well?

How about developing your back-end story–the story which your players will take several sessions to uncover. Does it really need to be that detailed? Or can you spend a few minutes updating it each week and then move onto something else like fleshing out a couple of upcoming encounters for maximum enjoyment?

Same with game setting information. Is it important to figure out the statistics for all the world’s rulers right now? Perhaps you could create a small rumour list for next week’s city session instead?

I need a lot more time management help. There are still not enough hours in the day for me to work on my roleplaying. Please send me your own tips.

* Permissions: This file is Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast. This file may be freely redistributed or quoted in whole or part, provided that this attribution remains intact.

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