I don’t generally use this blog to write about personal matters. However, I feel the need to clear the air a bit about something that’s been weighing on me lately. If you’re reading this, chances are that I’d like you’re advice about how to deal with this situation I’m in.

Those who know me are aware that I’d been working on a book up until recently. The manuscript for that book is now in the hands of my publisher’s editor. At this point, there’s nothing for me to do but sit back and wait for it to be reviewed so any residual editing can be done before the book goes to print.

I worked toward this state of completion for many months. It sapped nights, weekends, and other moments that might otherwise have been free. The feeling of it being completed, at least until editing starts, was understandably a relief of sorts. What followed, though, wasn’t something I’d expected.

I thought that, after a period, I would reconstitute myself and get back into the ring, so to speak. Whatever the next project was, be it working on Phergie or Zend Framework, I would start.

But I can’t seem to find motivation. There’s this ever-present feeling of lethargy where there used to be enthusiasm. I remember feeling similar to this when I graduated from college. As long as I had been waiting for time to work on other projects, my own projects, it felt like I didn’t have it in me when the time finally became available.

I’m not sure that state ever went away or, if it did, how I got rid of it the last time. All I know now is that I’m not sure what to do about it. Maybe it’s burn-out? I don’t know. It’s not a feeling I like, but I’m not sure how to rid myself of it. It’s like an angst to do something, a restlessness, but nothing that comes to mind seems enticing.

Have you ever felt something like this? If so, how did you get past it?


  1. Dude, I feel have felt like this for the last five months. What is helping me is to just sit down, prioritize, and realize that I just don’t have the energy to keep at this break neck pace. In other words, my body is telling me to slow down.

    My advice is to take a brief sabbatical (2-3 months) on extra projects. They will be there when you get back.

    In the mean time. Enjoy your wife, your kids, your family. Let some love recharge those batteries.


  2. Who says it’s something to get past? I’ve got some projects I feel that I "should" be working on, but instead I end up spending my time on the things/projects I enjoy more.

  3. Rob... says:

    I felt exactly the same way after Zend Framework in Action and spent a month or three doing not a lot with my spare time. I needed the relaxation time.



  4. Lee says:

    Hi friend, I have felt like this many a time. Just sitting there staring at your website looking for inspiration and motivation.

    What i normally do is ask some of my friends if they would like something creating to help them along. Or if they have any fun project ideas.

    This normally helps me out and also your helping a friend out too.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I know *exactly* what you are talking about and I have to agree with Jared’s advice. Many times I have felt like that and what usually fixed it was to do something else for a while — maybe even completely remove yourself from the whole realm of technology whenever possible: try out some new things…. gardening, cooking, etc. Those seems to "aerate" my brain and after a few weeks (sometimes a month or two) I just wake up or get an idea and wham, it all comes back to me.

  6. Fronobulax says:

    Chill out. Sit back and take a rest. Do something that doesn’t involve a computer or an internet connection. The projects will still be there when you are rejuvenated. How about reducing the stack of books to be read (and don’t start with a tech book)?

  7. Feeling that way is a sign it’s time for me to "relax" for a while with some reading. Be it fiction, non-fiction, or even technical stuff, it’s a more relaxing way for me to recharge. It takes my mind of my lack of motivation, and keeps my "resting" conscious occupied in an enjoyable way while giving my subconscious the time it needs to sort out why _it_ is causing the lethargy. The motivation is indeed going to return… the only question in the meantime is how much you want to let yourself focus on its lack.

    And have a drink for me at tek ;-) I’ll be watching the Twitter traffic, pretending to be there ;-)

  8. Pete Dobbs says:

    I feel similar after every big project. I usually recover by spending a few months concentrating on getting outdoors – running, climbing, cycling. Anything to recharge my soul!

  9. It’s all just a matter of time, time heals all.

  10. Joe Devon says:

    Yeah, definitely know the feeling. A run or even a walk every single morning helps a lot. The outdoors is medicine for the soul. Keeps you in good health and you find yourself drifting to plans as you exercise.

  11. Gunnar says:

    Time out, do something that you enjoyed when you were a "kid", realize it sucks and come back…

    Or raise a family, and realize what your priorities really are, then you’ll get 8 hrs done in 2 – and smile afterwards (yes, sex in "reverse" :P)

  12. James R says:

    Hi Matthew,

    Been there done that. And will presumably do it again a few times in my life. The only advice I can offer, as others have also, is, if at all possible, walk away from the computer for a bit. You will know when it is time to return.

    If you really can’t get away, then a physical activity would really help. Assuming you don’t already do some sort of daily physical exercise, I would strongly recommend you start. Running, walking, karate, swimming… what ever. Get out every day for an hour or two. Its peaceful at 5am ;-)

    Hopefully you won’t read this for a few weeks while your brain takes a breather from the internet.