Slowing down to move faster
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The holidays are here

More like holi-dazed, amiright? Okay, sorry for that, but truthfully, I feel like I need a vacation from my holidays sometimes.

One nice thing is that I do have a little extra time to get this newsletter out. Here it is, Issue #9

Hopefully the upcoming holiday season means things slow down a little bit at work and you're able to take a break from the deadlines.

With this slightly more relaxed time comes the freedom to try out the various ideas you've had over the past year. You've worked hard to meet deadline after deadline, even after the requirements changes for the umpteenth time. Now it's your turn to change the requirements.

While this should seem like a great chance to try out everything new under the sun, if you're like me, you become paralyzed by the sudden freedom. It's almost like you've taught your brain to only operate under pressure, so when that pressure is relieved, you can't focus.

Artists and writers are familiar with this. It's the fear of the blank sheet of paper*. The nothingness staring at them, giving them no clues on how to proceed. 

If this feeling hits you sometime over the next month, here are a few tips to break through:
  • The worst thing you can do is nothing. As long as you do something, no matter what, at least it's better than doing nothing**.
  • Don't be afraid to just watch. Sometimes sitting back and enjoying a few video tutorials is enough to give you the creative spark to try out that new test framework.
  • Start small and imperfect. Testing is complicated. Just like remodeling a house, sometimes you have to make a mess to make progress. Take small steps and define small goals. Put enough of those together and you make big strides.
  • Learn for the sake of learning. Sometimes a thing you learn won't be immediately applicable to your project or team. Learn it anyways. It's a great feeling to be able to speak to an idea in a meeting because you did research on it 6 months ago.
Those are my tips. I still fail at this, all the time, but remembering these things helps me when I feel overwhelmed.

What are your tips for taking advantage of downtime?

*There's a name for this - Atelodemiourgiopapyrophobia
**I mean, taking down the site on a Friday afternoon is probably worse than doing nothing.

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