Productivity Recovery

Ever notice that you slump in your productivity right after a big project completes? You should be elated, right? Or building on the success, but your system seems to crash instead? Ever finish a big win and feel pretty depressed shortly thereafter? But you didn’t want to tell anyone when they were busy congratulating you?*


photo courtesy of Sport Communities

Give yourself a break. You aren’t going to perform at peak productivity all of the time. And just like a runner at the end of a race, you need to catch your productivity breath.

Here is a general rule of thumb: for every week of peak activity, give yourself a day of recovery. If you can do short sprints, you can cut this time down. I am a three month runner, so I need a good week or two of downtime to catch my breath. After a year long project, I may need a month to six weeks of exploration.

It isn’t that you aren’t being productive during this down time. You are. It is part of your productivity to get this breathing cycle in. If you stop expecting yourself to be a task monster and start noticing what you might be doing during those “down” times, you are probably percolating. You are exploring a new idea, getting together the energy and confidence to burst into the next project.

Whether you like it or not, I have found it is better to embrace it. When I resist, I find myself in internal conflict which leads me to get easily distracted, seek out numbing or escapist activity, and then it lasts even longer.

Find your pace and see what you really need to catch your productivity breath. Note what you do during those spells and see how that emerges later. You just might find it is a different kind of productivity but productive nonetheless.

* I have also spoken with clients who are most thrilled during the design phase. They can get the project to completion, but they are already bored with it by the time it goes public and the praise comes in. If this is you, and you aren’t doing it for the praise, but for the rush of being in flow on work you love, pat yourself on the back and, after a little break, dive back toward the phase that you get a rush out of. Stop expecting yourself to be someone else. Be fully you.

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