You don't have to be maxed out on creativity to do good work.
The days when you're at 20% of your best suck. It sucks for everybody.
But you can still grind out some good work.
The challenge is to stop looking at whatever you'd ideally like to do, the full day's work which can often seem near impossible when you're flat.
Instead, just chip one thing off.
Got a stack of 10 things to do?
Just commit to getting the first one done and focus on that.
You'll rarely have one of your best days if you start out down around 20% of max energy for whatever reason, but you can have a surprisingly productive day if you chip away.
If you have the luxury of having a million different roles I find it's pretty easy to find a pile of low energy work that needs to get done. For example I generally have a pile of client questions that need to be dealt with by phone at some point in the next 2-3 days. So when my energy level goes down I start calling clients. Plus because I'm mentally exhausted I feel relieved to have a chance to make some small talk and don't rush the clients, giving them more value and patience than I would when I feel like I'm at the top of my game.
The notion that you have to be at 100% energy/capability/vitality/whatever to do whatever it is you need to do, is a very limiting one.
I became much more consistent with workouts when I stopped coddling myself. It doesn't matter if I'm tired or have a krick in the knee, I can still go and bang out a few reps of something. And paradoxically I feel strong when I go and do things in the weak state.
I'm reading "Mastery" by George Leonard.
The book is odd. It's excellent in some ways, it's an exceptionally grounded and pragmatic book. I recommend it.
But, it's a bit of a downer. For instance, I just read Donald Trump's "Think Big and Kick Ass", and after reading it, you feel ready to go climb a mountain, kill a lion with your bare hands, lay waste to an enemy army, and otherwise build an empire.
Mastery isn't like that. Mastery is someone reminding you that success doesn't come easy, that it's a long hard slog through lots of plateaus, and that you should enjoy the process because that's the only way you'll get through it.
In a way, it's an uplifting message if you can really internalize it. It'll help give you strength during the plateaus. It immediately answered some questions I've had recently. Recently I wrote in "A Strange Pattern I’ve Noticed in Productivity" -
It's all about leverage.
Here's the deal: everyone, through unique life experiences, has their own unique sets of skills, strengths and talents.
But more importantly, you have a unique combination of those sets of skills.
If you find you have a talent for writing, the first thing you're going to figure is "Hey, maybe I should do something where I get paid to write!"
Congratulations, you're already a step ahead of the curve.