Perhaps I should take 16 day vacations more often, as upon my settling in after my return I realized that I have a very full plate in front of me. Throughout my years as an independent software developer, this is what I have found. When a developer is dealing with custom applications, it seems there is either a feast or famine relative to the amount of work that’s available. Perhaps as a parallel to the old expression “…absence makes the heart grow fonder…” in a like manner perhaps “… absence makes application users think of new things for their application to do…”
Actually I’d rather think that the feast or famine is just a normal flow. I have seen this cycle over and over again. I’ve had people ask me before, what do you do with your time when it’s slow? My answer to them is generally that I spend the time learning what I’ll need for the next time I have a feast of work. By the way, not only do I provide the previous answer, but that’s actually what I do!
As far as spending the quiet times studying or learning new things that I may use in the future, I have become a firm believer in doing this. It seems to keep me from becoming stagnant and set in my ways. Sometimes, the research and new things that I try truly do pay off in the future — but there are other times that I learned what I do not want to do in the future. That lesson can be of immense value also.
During a feast of work, it just doesn’t make sense to be spending time trying to learn something new. In the famine times, I find myself hungry to check out the latest development tools and look at ways to improve my skills so that I can become more efficient. This has served me well through the years.