Yesterday I went through a similar situation; I realized that I was basically done with a major proposal for a project except for an optional component. I have over a month before it is all scheduled to be reviewed, and most of the zest I have for the project has gone away when I realized that I had already done most of what I needed to do. All that is left is an admittedly tricky technical problem.
I would like to get it all done though, so I plan on using one of Feynmann’s stories for dealing with burn out:
He had just gotten done with some big project(s) and was feeling way down. He had pushed hard and gotten some good results, but somehow along the way he had lost his drive to get anything worthwhile done. He noticed that he was letting the little stuff, like teaching and paperwork, take up a big part of his life but he couldn’t bring himself to work on the “big” ideas like everybody expected him to.
This went on for a few weeks and it was really starting to irk him. He was in the cafeteria eating a meal and not really doing anything of significance when a few students walked by. One of them was tossing an empty plate up in the air. Feynmann saw the plate and starting asking himself, “How could I parameterize the path of one of the molecules in that plate?” He sat down with a napkin and spent the rest of the night accounting for the plate’s lateral/rotational movement as well as the wobble that was introduced by the uneven launch.
The next morning, he felt like he was back. Something had changed. He credited the change with the fact that he had done good work on a problem that he wanted to work on, even though the work didn’t really seem to go anywhere.
It seems like when you are feeling lazy, the best thing to do is gain momentum by working on a hard problem that you want, but maybe not have, to work on and then see how you feel afterwards. My plan is to just mess around with the code and try to do some stuff that I have been excited about for a long time and see where it gets me.
So, I was thinking that's an awesome comment and quite pleased Zack shard it, when he left a second comment an hour later -
Just thought you might want to know:
It worked! I started doing something unrelated to my techie problem and I found/saw the answer to my original problem within two minutes. Although it is not quite done yet, the hardest part is finished. My apologies for commenting so verbosely before.
Awesome, awesome stuff :) Thanks for sharing, Zack.