How Pathfinder: Kingmaker Helped Me Manage My To-Do List

In this piece, I will prove to you that video games can actually improve your productivity skills

Oren Cohen
Oren Cohen
Listen to this story.

Yesterday I became a King. The coronation was terrific, I gave some diplomatic speeches, and many people applauded the beginning of my reign. But, Pathfinder: Kingmaker didn’t end there. I believed that becoming king was the main goal of the game. Clearly, I was wrong. Not only do I need to keep managing my realm, but it also evolved into an independent kingdom.

But, the realm-managing game provided some great tools to manage a kingdom. Can it be? A video game that teaches productivity hacks? Well, it’s true. Here’s what I learned from Pathfinder: Kingmaker about managing my tasks better.

Use Tickets to Document Your Tasks

Managing your tasks like this is much better than writing down a long to-do list that you’re never going to finish. You won’t finish these either, but at least you will have more information about each task.

The game labels each one as either a Problem or an Opportunity. Doing so allows you to have a better idea of what you’ll prioritize first.

In each “ticket” you also have some information about the cost of completing the task and the ability to choose an advisor who can own the job and their rate of success.

Predicting an employee’s success percent might not be a good practice in real life. As a manager, you should know your employees’ strengths and what kinds of tasks they are better equipped to handle.

Set a Deadline For Each Task and Consequences

Something we don’t do enough in real-life is to write down the deadline for our tasks. There’s power in limiting the allotted time you give to a job.

The developers of Pathfinder took “Parkinson’s Law” to heart. The rule says that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” And that’s true of tasks in Pathfinder as well. If you can’t deal with problems in time, prepare to face the consequences.

Opportunities, on the other hand, are only missed if not assigned to an advisor. Missing out on an Opportunity won’t hurt your kingdom. Missing out on solving problems will be tremendously hurtful if you’re not careful.

Take this to heart on tasks in real-life. Ask yourself what’s going to happen if you don’t do this task. The answer might surprise you.

Group Tickets By Categories

The first type of ticket you see in the kingdom manager (where you handle kingdom tasks) are the events. These could be conversations, quest-related tickets, or random Problems and Opportunities.

The other tickets are for Projects which have no deadlines, but if you invest in them, they can improve the kingdom in certain areas.  You also have Advisor-related tickets, which are training and rank-up related.

And then there are the kingdom growth tickets which delve into annexations of Regions and expanding your borders. These categories allow you to make better decisions. When there are fewer events, you can focus on Projects. When there are more problems, deal with them first. Projects will wait.

Also, this helps make better use of your team of advisors. Never leave an advisor unoccupied. These categorizations tips could be applied to your real-life tasks list as well.

Have a Road Map

I knew from the moment I got my barony what I needed to look forward to in this game. I was going to get big. I didn’t know that a kingdom was possible back then, but, in my mind, at least I would have been the rich baron of a realm I built in my own two hands.

That’s the power of having a road map.

In your current projects, do you know where you want to be in a few months from now? A few years? If not, you need to work on that. Kingmaker, as the name suggests, have set you up on the path to glory. Now it’s up to you to actually make that happen.

Have a road map and know where you’re going with your projects.

Have a Done Pile

I had many projects where I was excited to get started and knew what I needed to do. In fact, this still happens to me from time to time. The problem with these types of projects is that they never work without sustained motivation.

If you want to build a kingdom, it will take many long hours of questing and kingdom-managing. Like everything in life, there is a long way to go to see success.

A Done pile is one way to sustain motivation. To show how far you reached. That’s what the game does to your completed missions. It paints them in green and puts them in a little pile on the right of the kingdom screen. That way, you’re motivated to go on.

But that’s not all. When I became king, every NPC in the game started calling me “Your Highness,” instead of, “Your Grace.” I also got a crown, which is particularly useful for my Charisma-based character.

That’s the other “Done Pile” that the game offers you. If you work hard, we’ll boost your ego by doing these small things that change the entire experience.


Pathfinder: Kingmaker is genuinely a fantastic game. I have a pet peeve for video games that allow me to rule in some form, and it does it exceptionally well.

These tips are only scratching the surface of the productivity topic. Still, I hope that this proved to you that, yes, even a video game can teach you concepts about working more productively.

I wonder what will be the next game that will let me build a nation from scratch. I’m going to find out.

If you’ll excuse me, it’s time to press on and cross this game off of my gaming list. Wish me luck!

Oren Cohen

I'm a software engineer, blogger, and aspiring fantasy novelist. Helping geeks build online homes. Reach out! I don't bite :)


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