This week I had a couple of harsh days.

I am generally a well organized person, and as a side effect, I don’t usually feel overwhelmed by work, family duties, or any other things. If there are things that I can’t do, I make peace with the fact that I can’t do it right now, make a note to get back to it later if needed, and move on. I like to think that I got the hang of it.

At the end of the second day I finally realized what was going on. At my job I was doing a performance-related research in an area of the system I wasn’t familiar with. I could google things and find answers on StackOverflow, but the big picture was still vague and fragmented. I had 4 times more tabs open in my browser than my usual 3 or 4, and I wasn’t able to take it to a point where I could feel at least some accomplishment. I have bit more than I could chew.

OK. That is a good thing to have realized. The mere realization of it gave me some relief. I’ve stepped away from my computer and took a long walk. That was enough to “step back,” take another look at what I was trying to accomplish, and consider a different approach.

The next day I was on my stable ground, balanced, working steadily on a thing that I knew I could make progress, and I knew how to get to “done.”

There is definitely value in this kind of exploratory experiences, but if it’s longer than a day, it becomes counterproductive: I get tired, frustrated, and it usually ends up with uninspired work, which leads to more frustration, more work and rework, and so on. And the longer you are in such a mood, the harder it is to stop, step back and see what’s going on.

It’s good to be back.