For many of us, life isn't all about WoW. Instead of having the luxury to while away most of our days immersed in Azeroth, we might find other demands on our time such as jobs, partners, children or studying. Alternatively, we might have the luxury of free time ourselves, but be dealing with raiders who are more harangued; looking at this time problem in more detail should help all round.
Why do busy people raid? For many, it's more like 'why do raiders become busy?'. A lot can happen in three years to change an individual player's circumstances. New jobs, new partners, new children, starting university or college, being made redundant: all these have happened to guildies or ex-guildies. Yet, due to the enjoyment, deep level of involvement and commitment built up over the years, changing something in life can mean there's still room for raiding.
The main problem at hand is due to the fact that raiding, especially progress raiding, can take up entire evenings -- starting from the moment a raider gets home from work and leaving little time for a good night's sleep, let alone anything else. Repeat this five times a week and it's hard to see where things like eating fit in; it also looks like a surefire way to lose your friends and significant other. Add to that your need to farm consumables at the weekend, or do dailies for money, or farm badges to get raid upgrades... suddenly, you're either working or playing WoW, with very little left in between, and the line between work and WoW becomes ever-increasingly blurred.
This lifestyle suits some people, but others might be looking for a more balanced approach to life that doesn't involve leaving behind the investment built up in a character and guild. Obviously, a drastic solution is to stop raiding altogether, or change guild to something that's much more casual and supports people with jobs, but many high-end guilds are surprisingly sympathetic to those with less time -- plus ultimately, you want to raid or you wouldn't be in this position at all.
For those with guildies with limited time, it's often hard to realise exactly what's going on beyond the hours spent in raids together. Someone who manages 100% attendance but rarely does anything outside of raids may be under pressure to quit the game, or cut down on raiding; someone might have to leave early, or arrive late, so that they can spend time with their children. Not everyone is open about their real lives, but if you suspect a raider is having trouble balancing WoW and RL, the worst you can do is talk to them to try and figure out if you can help at all. The most important thing is to understand that someone might be in a difficult position, and pushing them to attend more raids or stay later could simply lead to them quitting altogether. If you don't want that, watch your step until you fully understand their situation.
How not to let raiding become your life
It's all too easy to get completely absorbed in WoW; to live and breathe to play and raid, and neglect all other concerns. We've heard about, or even been, the guy who didn't leave his house for months. It's great to get deeply involved, and activities like running a guild really can take up a lot of your life, but it's also possible to balance other things alongside this. Raiding can be extremely important to you, but pushing all other commitments aside to make every single raid isn't the only way to live. It's absolutely possible to raid and work, to raid and see friends, to raid and date someone -- but communicate, especially to your loved ones, or they'll start getting seriously worried about you talking at a computer five nights a week.
Problems with raiding and time
Time management is an art, and it can take many refinements before you finally reach an arrangement that suits you. Here are a few example compromises and solutions that might help with time management problems you encounter.
I can't make raids on time.
A fairly common occurrence, especially when the raid force spans multiple timezones. If you're having trouble getting home on time for raids, you could consider shifting your work hours. Sometimes this isn't an option, or transport means you'll be late anyway; you could communicate with a raid leader as to when you would be home daily and 'sign in' for the raid while on your way home, or arrange rotations with members of the same class and/or role. Similarly, if you've got things to do at home that stop you logging in on time, letting a raid leader know you'll be on for sure in ten minutes can keep your spot warm. Finally, you could survey how many others are in the same position and push for a later raid start time.
I have to leave early.
Again, communication with your raid leaders is the best bet here, as they can ensure you get replaced at an appropriate time rather than suddenly vanishing and leaving the raid one down. Think about offering to sit out if it's a progress night as bringing in new players late in an evening can cause a step or two backwards, depending on the fight, and others may be able to stay past end of raid for an extra few tries. Help your officers decide whether or not to recruit someone else who can make up the time you can't put in.
I can't play every night.
Your guild might expect you to be there for every raid, but your partner or other demands on your time might mean you compromise on only a few days a week. For some people, it'll be possible to choose specific days and ensure you don't miss out on too much raiding by picking the most important days -- however, showing up only for certain bosses or farm content can look dodgy in the eyes of your guild. Other compromises might just include a day or two of "us time" which you'll have to arrange around in-game and real events; try to get an idea of when you're most needed in-game, and when your real-life social commitments are, so you can get everything sorted beforehand.
I have to stop raiding.
Sometimes it simply comes down to an ultimatum: you spend "too much" time in-game, and those people you don't play WoW with are increasingly unhappy about it. Delivering the "it's WoW or me" line isn't necessarily the best way to communicate this, but we've all heard of situations where it has boiled down to that. Step away for a while, try to see things through the other person's point of view, and think about taking a break from raiding if need be. A few days or a couple of weeks can help put everything in perspective.
Using limited game-time successfully
GTD can help -- here's an abridged version:
- Write down every task you need to do in-game, from recurring demands to single one-off items.
- Go through each task, starting at the top, and take some action on it: if it takes less than two minutes, just do it. Otherwise, you can defer it to be done later, or delegate it to another guildie (if, for example, it's a guild management issue).
- For anything you defer, figure out what the next specific action is. For example, your task might be "get 20 haste pots", but the actual next action might be "log herbalist, spend an hour farming Terocone".
- You should end up with a few small actions done and out-of-the-way, and everything else presented as a collection of things to do. Now you can go through these specific actions and, well, do them!
- Update your list regularly so you ensure everything's up to date, and any task that takes more than one step has a clear 'next action'.
This specific methodology might not work for you - a traditional to-do list or set of Post-its might serve the exact same task. However, breaking down large and vague concepts like "farm consumables" into actions and then being able to pick and choose whatever you most feel like doing, knowing it all gets you closer to your goal, can be very rewarding.
When to stop, seek help or cut down
This article isn't aimed as anti-raiding propaganda, and we're certainly not here to deliver a lecture on the evils of gaming. However, there is such a thing as too much. If you're seriously worried about your lifestyle, or the effect raiding and WoW are having on everything outside of Azeroth -- or you're worried about someone else -- please, take a break, think about the situation, and seek professional help if necessary. Propaganda aside, we have seen hardcore WoW players lose their jobs and derail their academic careers, and while this works for some people, others might want to stop before it gets that far.