Audio: Make Time for Recreation [Time – 7:49, File Size – 7.3 MB]
“Do you know what the word ‘recreation’ means? It means ‘re-creating’ your energy, your enthusiasm. You’re no good to me all burnt out and crispy. So this weekend, go camping with your family or something… anything. Just don’t bring back your musty old, stressed-out self!” – Anonymous supervisor, my first job out of grad school
“Rule #24: One must pay close attention to workaholics: if they get going in the wrong direction, they can do a lot of damage in a short time. It is possible to overload them and cause premature burnout but hard to determine if the load is too much, since much of it is self generated. It is important to make sure such people take enough time off and that the workload does not exceed 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 times what is normal.” – from One Hundred Rules for NASA Project Managers (Curator: James Atherton)
“I’ve created the concept of a holi-hour, a shortened version of a holi-day. I allow myself at least an hour each day to relax totally.” — Susan Jeffers in Feel the Fear… And Do It Anyway
Energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and the ability to interact pleasantly and productively… if you or your team is going without adequate time off, it is unlikely that they can muster any of these traits in a sustained way. Simply put: Working around-the-clock without taking time for recreation is not heroic, nor is it even sensible. It can lead to mistakes, low-quality project results, and (worse) to burnt-out team members and even shattered personal lives.
The trouble is that many professionals — the top-knotch people we all want on our teams — may have accepted a level of overload in their lives when they were in grad school or serving internships that is simply unrealistic and unsustainable over the course of a career. It’s important to their long-term health, and the health of your organization, that they learn to value recreation as much as they value making high-quality professional contributions. The fact is, in the long run, quality results depend upon rested, invigorated people.
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