Late Sunday night my brother told me to take a personal day and spend some time doing whatever I wanted to; perhaps spend some time in my workshop, or work on setting up my basement entertainment center, or maybe go hiking or biking. My response to him was simply: I have way too much to do and can’t justify taking the time off. Long story short, I gave in and spent the afternoon not working, and it was one of the best things I’ve done for myself in the last few months.
I am a workaholic and am always working. Even when I’m spending time on my own personal projects I’m working. Part of this is because I have the rare opportunity of doing what I love as my job: writing plugins. I’m tremendously fortunate to be able to spend the day doing what I love and make a living with it at the same time. But that also means that even when I’m “playing”, I’m working.
No matter how much I love writing plugins, I get burnt out every now and then, especially when it comes to handling the support load of the plugins I write.
When I’m tired or burnt out, it is really difficult to be motivated and to keep pressing on. I have been dealing with a bit of burn out for the last few weeks and each day has been a struggle in some form or other. Some days I just hate the idea of managing support tickets. Some days I just don’t want to look at code, nor do I want to look at code but can’t seem to write anything worthwhile.
Production quality when suffering from burnout definitely gets affected. Yesterday, for example, I spent nearly two hours attempting to build a new feature for Easy Digital Downloads, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to really wrap my mind around the problem. I knew what needed to happen, but the course of action to get there was foggy. I eventually gave up and left my computer alone for the rest of the afternoon.
I went to Lowes and purchased a new toolbox for my shop. Since moving to my new house in April, I’ve been wanting to get my garage setup as a wood shop, since fine wood working is one of my side passions. Up until yesterday, the workshop was a mess: tools were scattered everywhere, nothing had a “home”, and nothing about it inspired any sense of motivation. Simply walking through the workshop caused all motivation to work in the space to vanish.
I made the decision to invest in myself by spending a few hours organizing my workshop so that I could be inspired to spend time there, and when I was finished I was more motivated to work than ever, and not just to work in the workshop, but to work on my normal day-to-day tasks.
I invested in myself by taking an entire afternoon to do something that was not work related. Sure the toolbox was an actual monetary investment, but the price didn’t matter; it could have been $50 or $5000, or even $0.
Forcing myself to spend time away from the computer can be difficult. Initially it seems like I’m “wasting” precious time by not working, but in reality what I was doing was making the time I am working much, much more productive. I’ve succeeded in getting more done today than I did the last two days combined.