What is your default mode, how do you act when it’s over, when you’re done? Finally idle again? How does it feel?
You’re idle, in between projects or right after work. You’ve just completed the big project. That is exactly where the potential to do something really stupid is the greatest.
The best way to prevent a potentially negative aftermath to any accomplishment is to set up some idle-time protocol.
Raw idleness tends to be — especially between bouts of higher achievement — relatively negative. You can’t be high all the time. Also, to really feel the high, you need, by definition and for comparison, the corresponding low. What follows is, that the higher the high, the lower the low.
Try to establish a baseline or maintenance program that will prepare you for the next project, restore your physical and mental energy and backup your intellectual resources. Start immediately upon exhaustion to appreciate and use the void, as long as it lasts.
This void, this emptiness does indeed exist and it infects potentially anyone. Creating some routines prevents the “hole” that opens up after finishing any kind of creative work from becoming all too deep.
My protocol, for example, consists of a strict diet, exercises and — to contain and to enforce — discipline. Whenever I become idle, which isn’t all too often but especially at the crossroads between projects, before and after, I quite literally fall back into a set of default habits of eating cleanly, exercising hard and absolutely regular, and so on…
Debriefing; analyzing the finished project is often hard since it’s all over and done and you can’t change the outcome anyway, but it is an important conclusion of anything you worked so hard for. Just recount what you will be proud of and note what and how to improve when trying next time.
Research, study, and refining skills are part of my strategy. The more unrelated the better, seemingly unrelated that is, inspiration comes best when the field of research seems way too remote.
Enjoy the low and appreciate it, for the greater the difference, the more pronounced the reward will be. Live both the low and the high as deeply as you can. Just make sure and try to establish a default mode somewhere in the middle between high and low, defaulting to either high or low makes the respective opposite state unbearable.