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September 2009

Hitting the Restart Button after a Long Project

I do my best work when I get passionate about a project. The project dominates my thoughts during my waking (and non-waking hours). I'm not obsessing over it, but always thinking about how to do things differently, how to do them better. The flip side about being passionate is how to wind down and restart once the project is over. A week later, my workspace is still littered with notes from the finished project. Why? 

I suspect that it's that I'm still mentally hanging on after the "relationship is over". My relationship with the project, that is. If it was a success, I want to hold on that positive vibe. If I have mixed feelings about what I learned, I hope the pile of papers will motivate me to to analyze what I did -- and to better my performance next time. It feels like the denial at the end of a personal relationship. I'm restless and eager to move on to the next one, whether the project is a good fit for me, or not! I'm acting like a jilted lover on the rebound -- and this is all about work... So when to hit that restart button? I've yet to figure it all out, but here's my plan: set a reminder in my calendar to hit "restart" 3 business days after the project is complete. No more. Then I'll clear up the paperwork, clear my mind (with a walk, a trip to the library or other mental un-blocker), do my project post-mortem, and move on. And I'll be less likely to look for projects that don't fit (on the rebound).