We are starting into that time of year where you might be most busy or struggle to find meaningful work.  For those that are experiencing the latter, this episode is to help us embrace downtime.  There are two important considerations during these times. First, we want to avoid backsliding on our progress and momentum.  However, we also want to rest and recharge.  No one can run full steam without rest.  These downtimes allow us to do so.  We also can use these periods for reflection and planning.

Embrace Downtime And Recharge

First and foremost, we need to use these times to refill our tank.  There are many reasons to take some time off from work.  Nevertheless, the primary focus should be rest.  We do not have near as many opportunities to stop and relax as we do to push ahead.  Respect the rarity of time off and slower days to use them wisely.  That means you may need to be happy with a shorter to-do list and fewer things completed some days simply because you had less to be done.

Continued Momentum

One of the best tools we have for becoming better developers is momentum.  That habit of making regular progress is powerful.  It is a critical motivator each day and affirmation as we see improvement over time.  Therefore, we do not want to lose momentum.  A three-day weekend is not likely to break our focus.  However, a week or two of vacation can completely derail that progress.

One way to keep our momentum is to keep doing what we always do.  That might be easy and not impact our vacation.  For example, fifteen minutes a day is not much to ask.  On the other hand, the momentum from an hour or two of focused work may keep us from needed rest.  In those cases, we should look for ways to reduce our effort. For example, we can reduce time spent and possibly focus on planning or review rather than implementation.  That allows us to keep things fresh in our minds with a minimum of effort.

Reflection And Planning

There is an art to reflection and planning.  They are activities that require intention and freedom to let your mind roam.  There are rabbit holes that we can come across in either of these tasks that are worth exploring.  Thus, time constraints can make it difficult or impossible to give these the attention they need. Instead, we can embrace downtime and use it to allow us to explore some of those rabbit holes, if not all of them.  The added benefit of seasonal downtimes is that they often come after a long or busy work period.  Those are the perfect times to be retrospective and assess what we want to change in the future.  That is how we get better. We measure, evaluate, and correct course.

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is a founder and principle of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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