7 Things I Learned About Business From Playing Bejeweled Blitz

As my Facebook friends will tell you, I have a serious jones for Bejeweled Blitz, that maddening, one-minute gem-moving game known long ago as Diamond Mine. I’m not even very good at it compared to my friends (you know who you are…Linda!), but I find it a fun break from the stresses of deadlines and story pitches.

And the good news is I haven’t found it a total waste of time. I’ve picked up a few tips from playing Bejeweled that I feel are helping me in my writing business. Here they are:

1. Keep striving for a fresh perspective. We all tend to get in a rut, and see things only one way. In Bejeweled, if you don’t keep refreshing your attitude and looking again – maybe at the yellow gems you never pay much attention to – you can’t find new sets of gems to connect. In business, we’ve got to keep talking to new people and exploring new ideas to gain insight into the best way forward.

2. Time is precious. There’s only one minute to get it done on Bejeweled Blitz. Isn’t that a metaphor for our lives? The Kabbalists say we don’t kill time – time kills us. We should always remember we only have so many moments…and we don’t know how many. So we need to prioritize ruthlessly to make sure we’re getting the most important stuff done each day…including taking time to refresh and just enjoy this beautiful world.

3. If it’s not working, bag it. One of the best pieces of Bejeweled advice I got was from an online tip sheet. They said, if you’ve hit 30 seconds and nothing much is happening, quit that puzzle and just start a new game. It’s too late for you to end up with a good score, as half the time is already gone. The same with your business – if you’ve been trying one strategy a while and it’s not working, don’t just keep on slogging in the wrong direction until your doors close. It’s time to try something else.

4. If you’re stuck, blow up the model. Sometimes you get a crummy puzzle in Bejeweled where there aren’t a lot of obvious matches…sort of like our crummy current economy. In these cases, the best thing you can do on Bejeweled is manage to match and explode a flame jewel, which will radically rearrange a hunk of your puzzle and hopefully give you easier matches. This works for business too – if your current premise is proving difficult to execute in our new economic reality, it may be time to shake things up – look at new geographic markets, products, or customer segments.

5. Turn the noise down. Bejeweled makes a range of jangly sound effects and vocal comments as you play, including a throbbing sound that begins as you near the end of the minute. The second-best tip I got was to turn my computer’s sound off. It’s too distracting! I was amazed at how much more reliably I could get decent scores without the audio. Likewise, in business, we’ve got to focus on what’s important and screen out distractions to be successful.

6. Embrace change. In Bejeweled, the scenario is constantly changing, and often not in ways you expected. You succeed in forming one set of gems, only to realize that doing so has spoiled your chance to do a few other key moves you had planned. Isn’t that just like our lives? While we’re executing one business strategy, the window of opportunity for another one fades away. We plan for economic good times, only to wake up in the deepest economic downturn of our lifetimes. And the only thing to do is accept it and look at the new reality with an open mind, so we can spot the new opportunities that are out there.

7. “Go for the multiplier!” This is what my teenage son yells at me every time he sees me playing Bejeweled. If you get four jewels lined up in a row instead of three, you get a multiplier gem that increases your score by a factor of 2-6x if you can get it into a jewel set. Evan’s always ragging me that I don’t focus enough on trying to score those multipliers. And you know what – he’s right! In business, we need to prioritize ways to do two or three times as much in the same amount of time – reach more customers, accomplish more tasks, within the same timeframe and without extra effort. If there’s a class, software tool or marketing technique that allows us to work more efficiently, make using it a top priority.