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Whether in work or home, I usually have a number of projects going. I get very geared up and in the zone for projects and this make it particularly difficult to readjust to periods of quiet left by the successful completion of projects.

I have plenty of hobbies but even when it is a work project, not having something to immediately fill that time gap leaves me at a loss with what do with my myself. I can find ways to fill the time quite productively, but coping with that change of mental gear is something I still haven't quite gotten the hang of.

Does anyone understand the issue and have ways of handling coming off a project and finding a void in their life/routine/thoughts?

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The "less hectic" times are opportunities to reflect on past's work, re-visualize the road ahead, adjust plans and goals according to learned lessons, and restore order and organization to the work or home environments. These activities are equally "legitimate" work activities.

Nevertheless, moving from a hectic, fast, and possibly stressed, time to a "relaxed" time, is a transition that bring certain emotions that are natural. After all, do we want our lives to be monotone and always at the same level of activities and work.

One more thing, shouldn't completion of a (big) project be celebrated and cherished, instead of always looking at the next one. Fully cherishing a project completion has lots of benefits on productivity for the next projects (else, you may feel at some life event that you haven't achieved anything in your life).

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I just finished high school last month, and although it might not be as hectic as some of your lives, it carried a lot of psychological significance. Around the same time I finished high school, I stopped working on a tech startup I had been focused on the past three years and finished practicing tennis seven days a week for the state tennis tournament. I was starting a Microsoft internship in 2 weeks, but at the moment I found myself with a short span of time with not much to do.

At first, I filled this spare time with little hobbies like you said. The first week I learned how to count cards in blackjack and made some money at a casino, practiced Sudoku problems, listened to NPR business talks as I ran in the morning, took a Coursera class on Calculus, etc.

However, as that first week of hobbies came to a close, I realized that maybe I had been tackling this 2-week period of spare time all wrong. You see, kind of like you I was scared to readjust to a more relaxed life, I had to keep moving forward, keep up constant productivity, keep waking up at 6 every morning with a cup of black coffee. I decided to try something different, to slow down.

The second week, starting off with my slower life cycle, was brutal at first. As I slept in and took my time eating breakfast and walked around the park, I felt useless, like I was wasting away my life one second at a time. But as the week progressed, I found myself enjoying the soft subtleties of life you miss while moving a million miles an hour. Silly stuff, stuff like birds chirping and the taste of cereal, and just sitting outside looking at the sky. Really silly stuff I hadn't noticed while studying frantically for an AP test or planning a startup meeting or practicing tennis. I found the little things that we take for granted that make life special.

And as the second week came to a close and I started up my Microsoft internship and my somewhat hectic life resumed, I reflected back on that second week. I think it's important to remember that you don't have to be constantly "moving" or "doing" to be productive. Productivity is simply using your time wisely, and I think I discovered things about myself, and how we can get caught up the speed of everyday life, during that week.

So I guess, TL;DR, take a week or a few days off. Don't plan anything. Like Mohamad Fakih said, take time to reflect and re-visualize the road ahead. Sorry for the rambling, hope this helps.

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I know exactly what you're talking about. I'm coming off of about five years straight of working on several very large/complex projects in a row at work, and I felt completely aimless for a while there (now I only feel slightly aimless ;) ). I think part of what happens is when you have the pressure of these kinds of projects pushing you, it gives clarity: "ah, what I need to do next is this thing on my checklist" and when that outside force is gone, it can be hard to look around and find something else that has that same weight of certainty that "this is what I should be doing now."

So it's maybe not really about not having anything to do, it's about not knowing what comes next, which is really a form of not knowing who you are and what you are about generally. It may be you are moving in a direction of slowing down generally, in which case, you should take the advice of the folks advocating that response to the situation. It may also be you are destined to fire up again in the future. The good news is, either way the prescription right now is the same: focus on your health first, especially getting lots of sleep and rest (since you probably need to catch up), then relationships, then generally spend time not trying to force anything to happen but instead wait for what calls you when you try to be present where you are now.

(Or if all else fails, spend some time answering questions on stackexchange... :) )

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Do you have a list of personal things you want to achieve?

  • Sit a degree or MBA?
  • Learn a foreign language?
  • Learn to play an instrument?
  • Consolidate techniques used during the last project to better prepare for the next?
  • Visit somewhere you always wanted to see?

The possibilities are huge - plan ahead and write your 'bucket list'

Then just go do things.

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