Inspired Project Teams

Enduring Wisdom & Guided Challenges to Help Project Teams Achieve Their Best

  • Mar 28

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    [This book excerpt is from “Taking Care of Yourself:  Managing Your Priorities, Time, & Energy” in The Project Management Minimalist]

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    Everybody knows you need to do these things, right? But here are some reminders why they’re so important.

    “All nighters” generally don’t work. How many times have you heard about someone studying all night for an important test, only to show up at school, “go blank,” and then blow the test? The two pictures below show why that happens.


    The image on the left represents a properly firing neuron in the brain, complete with an efficient electro-chemical exchange that permits good thinking. The picture on the right represents a neuron that’s clogged by accumulated waste products. This neuron is unable to work properly. It’s owner may think of himself as a hero-workaholic, sitting for hours and hours on end at his computer. But his brain is full of waste products and there’s no way he’s really thinking clearly. So he’s not doing anyone any favors by working too long without rest.

    These waste products can only be cleared by two things: 1) Rest… allowing blood flow to take away all the crud and bring in fresh chemicals for proper firing, and 2) nutrients that provide those fresh chemicals. The moral of the story: You gotta get enough rest and allow your brain to clear/replenish its chemicals if you want to be effective.

    But don’t take my word for it. Here are some quotes by a couple of guys who’ve spent their careers researching the topic of peak performance among athletes, business people, and others:

     “… our capacity to be fully engaged depends on our ability to periodically disengage.”

     “[Periodization is] maximizing performance by alternating periods of activity with periods of rest… ‘work-rest’ ratios lie at the heart of periodization, a training method used by elite athletes throughout the world.”

    —  Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz, in The Power of Full Engagement

      Then there’s this from Evan Robinson’s review of research on working in “crunch mode:”

    “Productivity starts to go down each day after 4 – 6 hours of continuous work. After enough hours, productivity goes to zero or may even become negative due to extra errors & mistakes.”

    Evan Robinson, Why Crunch Mode Doesn’t Work: 6 Lessons

    And finally, Loehr and Schwartz remind us of the value of drinking enough water:

    “… research suggests that drinking at least sixty-four ounces of water at intervals throughout the day serves performance in a range of important ways.. Inadequate hydration …. compromises concentration and coordination.”

    —  Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz, The Power of Full Engagement

     So c’mon. You know better!  Make sure you get enough sleep, rest, and water.

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    Learn more about The Project Management Minimalist Collection




    [This book excerpt was from “Taking Care of Yourself:  Managing Your Priorities, Time, & Energy” in The Project Management Minimalist]

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Go deeper! Check Out These Articles:

  • Feb 1

    Announcement: Below are links to the second four of 12 Inspired Project Teams posts to be made available in MP3 (audio podcast) versions.

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  • Dec 23

    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.

    Greers Challenges…

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