Cat sliding off a roof (metaphor for trying to get back into the zone)

Clawing back into the zone

For those of us who seem to work best “in the zone”, I don’t think we place enough emphasis on the effect our lifestyle choices can have on our work ethic.

I quit smoking two weeks ago, and I also stopped drinking caffeine before noon. Ever since, I’ve had trouble getting back into the “zone” where I used to thrive.

My work was starting to suffer.

Finally, late last week, I took a step I was dreading: IĀ just stopped trying to code. It felt like a defeat, like I’d given too much credence to my previous lifestyle choices and allowed them to determine when I could or couldn’t effectively work.

I had to stop trying to find the excitement to work, and let the excitement find me.

The caffeine decision was less about health more about productivity. Turns out that drinking a jolt of caffeine in the morning causes an early afternoon crash … who knew? Now I just drink caffeine in the early afternoon so the crash comes after I’ve stopped working šŸ˜œ

In some respects, I feel like I just needed to get out of my own head and let go of the “old way” of getting in the zone. I had to stop trying to find the excitement to work, and let the excitement find me.

The good news is that the excitement slowly started to creep back in over the weekend. Following my friend John Blackbourn’s lead, I started an Ideas repo on GitHub.

The concept is simple: document ideas you don’t have time to work on now, but want to write down out in the open so you can maybe work on them later. And if somebody else decides to come along and “take” an idea and run with it, that’s OK too!

Ultimately I wrote a few things down. Ideas for things like I’d like to learn, an old project I’d like to revive, a framework I’d like to explore. There’s only four ideas in there so far, but I feel like that’s a pretty good start.

I even took one of the ideas and pitched it to the Plugin-A-Palooza contest hosted the last few years by WordCamp Orange County. If that gets accepted, that might be just the fire I need to take it somewhere I always wanted to ā€“ delivery deadlines have a way of inspiring movement.

So here I am, two weeks out and still finding my way back “into the zone”. I don’t how well this is going to go, but I do feel like I’m on the right track.

It helps that I have a support network in family and friends, as well as in my WordPress family and with my awesome coworkers at Sandhills Development.

I’ll likely need some encouraging and understanding along the way, but I know that these recent choices are directly related to my health and wellness, so it’s worth the initial bumps along the way.

Featured photo by Doug Wilsen, and used with permission under CC.

Published by

Drew Jaynes

Drew is a former Core Developer for the WordPress open source project, and he works on cool plugins like AffiliateWP, Easy Digital Downloads, and Restrict Content Pro.

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