I had my second C-vaccination the other day. As any good Project Manager would do, I planned the timing so I wouldn’t miss anything important. Knowing the risk of being sick for a day or two, I prepared and cleared my schedule for the next few days.
Yes, I did get sick. The risk turned into an issue and I was very happy the mitigation plan was in place!
During the period I was “feeling a bit better”, I kept wavering between boredom and guilt.
Boredom because I’m always “doing something”. Sitting still is tough, even when I know it’s the best thing for me.
Guilt because even though I cleared my schedule – I’d been planning this for a month – there’s always a ton on my plate and I could really use the extra time!
I knew my brain wasn’t working 100%. And that a little exertion would delay my full recovery. But it was so hard to stop myself.
Many Project Managers fall into this trap. It’s called “Presenteeism”, the opposite of Absenteeism. We push ourselves to the point of exhaustion…and then we jump over it.
But just like I knew my brain wasn’t working at capacity, when we’re sick (or routinely work too many hours…or don’t take a break) our minds aren’t able to take information and process it effectively.
We start to make mistakes.
Mistakes lead to inefficiency, delay, and more issues.
And what comes out of our mouths (or through our fingers on the keyboard) is usually unclear and confusing. At worst, our communication devolves into barking out orders. We can’t even think about altering our tone to get the best response.
Bottom line: Presenteeism has a bigger impact than Absenteeism.
When you’re absent, you’re only out for a day or a week and everyone rallies to cover. They know it’s temporary.
When you’re always there, even when you shouldn’t be, your team has no recourse. They can only dig in and spend the extra time figuring out what your messages mean and what their next actions should be. And then try to not take offense when you’re ordering them around like robots.
Here’s my advice:
When you’re sick: stay home. Log off. They have your cell if they need you (they probably won’t).
When a 12 hour day routine is normal: commit to a reasonable time to leave each day (not at the 12 hour mark). Set a timer…or make plans after work, if you need to. And shut down your computer at the end of the day.
The fact is, the work will be there when you get back.
And the fact is, your brain needs a rest to get back to full capacity.
I know it’s hard. I live it, too. But when we rest, we’re able to come back more efficient and effective. We’ll see the issues and have a much better idea how to solve them.
If you’re still struggling, remember our teams will benefit from the clear direction. They don’t want to waste time, either.