"My Experiences With Modafinil" was a popular post that kicked off discussion. Here's a friend's take, who is feeling optimistic about it but also slightly more cautious:
I've just noticed the pattern, abnormally high productivity is inevitably followed by a funk for me. Three reasonable explanations come to mind.
* Important to recognize, it could just be a relative shift bias, where the high productivity makes my return to normal feel worse than it is.
* Could be a resource scarcity brought on by burning hot, in which case good nutrition and supplements should be able to make a good dent in it.
* Could be "damage" or "disorganization" caused by burning hot. If this is a real thing, I wouldn't be surprised if our brains have built in mechanisms to kill or cool down the engines while we repair. Overriding this mode is probably safe most of the time if the mechanism is conservative enough, but using neuroactive drugs to try to override completely on a regular basis seems dangerous to me.
I'd much rather learn to overcome these problems through nutrition and sleep/meditation, and supplements aimed at improving the underlying health of my systems, than by going in and shorting out safety mechanisms that may be designed to help me.
As I said in my previous email, I think I'm going to relegate Modafinil to the "emergency override" position. Sometimes you redline your motorcycle, sometimes you let revenues drop into the red, and sometimes you override your natural systems to achieve a particular goal... but it's not something I'm going to get into the habit of.
In terms of the broader implications... I'm coming to realize I'm not built to work *all* the time. I'm coming off two weeks of vacation, and I have such a more relaxed, positive, unencumbered approach to my work this week. I'm burning less hot to achieve close to the same amount.
By working myself into a frenzy like I did over the past several months, I think I was spending as much energy fighting fatigue (emotional, physical) as I was being productive. This week, I feel good, relaxed, things aren't going perfectly but it's cool, I've got stuff under control, got time to write a good long email before I go to bed, the problems will still be there tomorrow.
I might be sacrificing a little bit of "edge" by not worrying about how I'm going to make up the 35 or so hours of work that I'm behind on. (Maybe.) But that work isn't going to make or break me, and I'm not wasting any of my scarse mental resources running circles that won't actually get me anywhere.
So that's what I'm thinking on the subject. Maintain the health of your underlying systems. Be aware that your body may need downtime, and don't fret about it when it happens. (Really, don't fret, just let it go.) Maintain awareness of priorities, but also remember that shit's always on fire and there's always something more you could do, but that you're always going to need rest and rejuvenation and re-inspiration, so when you're doing those things, do them fully and efficiently as well.
This got a little longer than I meant it to, hope it was helpful!