I might have done some of my best work when I wasn’t working at all

By Kristofer Palmvik ·

Early 2019 my wonderful team at Hemnet started to break down.

Some colleagues moved on to other companies. Others were moved internally to support new initiatives. And suddenly I was the only developer left to build the search experience for properties in Sweden.

I spent the days recruiting and planning, evenings writing code. It was okay for a bit, but soon I felt burnt out. I started losing motivation, memory, and focus.

So I decided to take a break. Extended time away from work. A sabbatical.

I was fortunate to be able to take the second half of the year completely off.

We moved south to warmer climate and long walks along the beach. The first month was just a blur. But eventually the focus and inspiration slowly returned.

During sunny afternoons I finally had the undivided time to dive deep into different web frameworks that could help address the growing pain Hemnet experienced with Ruby on Rails.

I started cranking out experiments for my fake property portal Hemneo (a name similar to a competitor at the time) to answer the question: what would a property portal look like if it was built with current technology?

Back at Hemnet one of my prototypes was later used as the blueprint for a lightweight static maintenance site, to be used in case of emergencies. Other prototypes and experiments eventually led to a strategy for migrating Hemnet to Next.js, something I hear has just been completed.

Next to the pool I watched Theresa Torres’ videos on product discovery and how an Opportunity Solution Tree can be used to visualize the relationship between problems and solutions.

Back at Hemnet I got frustrated with the existing OKR process. I used my new skills to visualize what we actually wanted to achieve and how to get there. And that’s how we begun using OST in the daily work of our product team, which then influenced the rest of the company.

But the most important part was that I returned to work well rested and motivated again.

That was perfect timing. A few months later the pandemic hit, and the pace was turned up to 11 for everyone.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself.