I had a pretty good streak on the site last month. I managed to publish five posts. Yeah, not all that impressive, but that’s one post over my goal of one per week. Not too bad. Immediately thereafter though came a couple of weeks of me not writing anything.
It might have been due to the long holidays, when I made a point of spending more time bonding with Harper. It could have been that I spent quite a lot of effort on building an audience for the site, which took away some of the time I would otherwise have spent writing. It might have been the relatively busy weeks I had at work.
In any case, it could simply have been “the slow down”.
The slow down is that inevitable span of time when you feel a little unproductive and you’re not sure why. You don’t get as much work done – to the point where it kinda feels like you’ve been slacking off. A lot of people tend to feel guilty about it. You might even say they feel a bit paranoid about that lack of productivity.
I always offer that it’s a natural part of work. I’d go as far as saying it’s something we need to appreciate. Patience is something I really value. We’re not machines, and the work we do in the software business is a pursuit of creativity. Slowing down from time to time definitely does no harm.
I’ve always appreciated slow-downs as a time to step back and look at the work that’s been done so far. It’s an opportunity to celebrate how much we’ve achieved and a chance to reflect on what could be going better.
It’s also a great time to gain fresh insights. When you’re “in the zone”, there’s a tendency to shut out ideas from the outside. That makes sense in that situation. Introducing new things in the middle of deep work can be very disruptive. The slow down is the perfect time to see other ways that might work even better. In my case, while I didn’t write a lot the last couple of weeks, I squeezed in a lot of reading on Medium and found inspiration on what I might later write about myself.
Finally, the slow down could be the perfect time to do other things that are just as or even more important than the work you do. I personally wouldn’t have traded the time I got to spend with my daughter last weekend for any level of productivity. Never.
So the next time you’re feeling bad about being unproductive, take time to appreciate all the possibilities the moment could bring. You’ll be back in the zone in no time, but for now, enjoy the slow down while it lasts.