Work Life Balance
Work Life Balance is the way you manage your own time and that of your family, your friends and your other relationships.
Finally, the fifth thing that we need to talk about to make sure that you’re a fantastic and successful project manager is some You Time or Work Life Balance – so this is about the time, the way you manage your own time and that of your family, your friends, your relationships and so forth. You need to make sure that your not just working 12, 14, 15 hours a day and dragging yourself into an early grave. And sometimes you need to do that, I don’t know how many times I’ve worked on projects or particularly proposals for tenders and so forth where I remember one time I was there until 1 o’clock in the morning because I wanted to make sure people got a specific job done and I knew if I wasn’t there they would leave. But that’s a one off, that might happen once every 5 or 6 years but you cannot be doing massive hours day in day out. You’ll drive yourself into an early grave.
One thing I’m doing and I’ve probably been doing this for the last 10 years is that I go home at the same time pretty well every night. I make sure that I go home I spend some time with my family and kids. And if I need to continue work I do it after dinner, after the kids have gone to bed. If you come home 8, 9 o’clock every night, you start not seeing your children, wife’s got the slippers on, the curlers in the hair and she’s ready to go to bed and not happy with you – then that just going to lead to a bad outcome. So, you need to make sure you set some routine for yourself. If you need more hours in the day, my tip is get up earlier. Go to bed at a decent time, get up earlier. And you know what, if you go to work earlier I guarantee you that if you’re coming one hour before everybody else, you’ll smash out most of your morning work in that hour. I regularly come in 7 o’clock in the morning by 8, 8:15 when the rest of the team is trickling in I’ve cleared my inbox, I’ve written a report and then I can manage the project or work on the project as I’ve been saying in the last couple of sessions. So that’s a really good tip, you go to bed early, you get a bit more sleep and you get some real quality time in the morning.
One rule that I have and it took me a long time to work this out with the advent of ipads and so forth is no screens before bed. You cannot sleep and I was getting to the point where I’m taking my ipad to bed, reading my emails, looking at my Facebook, and lying awake for the next 3 hours with my eyes looking like a zombie. So no screens, this is basic stuff but there need to be some discipline around a manager so that you are fresh to manage the project correctly. If you can’t go to sleep it’s usually because there’s so much going on in your mind that you can’t relax, get up and write yourself a to-do list. Write yourself a couple of emails. I’ve done this many many times where it’s been midnight, 1 o’clock in the morning you just do a massive brain dump onto an email or onto a to-do list. And it’s like passing the worries off to somebody else at least for the next 5 or 6 hours you get some sleep, it’s better than not getting any sleep at all. One of my biggest issues is that when I’m under pressure, I want to eat. And there’s been many occasions where I’ve put on significant weight for very very difficult projects and you just need to get some discipline around that. One of the things I’m doing at the moment is that I’m cycling to work and I’m cycling home and that’s the most fantastic thing. I’m not a huge fan of cycling – in Australia at the moment cycling is very very big past time. But what’s going on, instead of me having to find an hour to an hour and a half at the gym on the way home and extending my time to get home at night, I’m doing 45-50 minutes riding in to work in the morning, 45-50 minutes riding at night home from work. It’s the same time as if I was catching the train and I’ve done an hour and a half exercise every single day. I feel fantastic. I sleep better. I’m not putting on weight I’m losing a bit of weight in fact. So, the plusses are enormous.
You need to find something to relax with, garden, cycle like I said, music – any hobby. It’s just not worth getting married to the job. When you’re a young project manager, you are going to need to put in some extra effort to get noticed, to achieve. When you don’t have specifically the skills or the experience to deliver a project or may need the certification or the training, a lot of us have been there, and this is how I get there during the days was just brutal effort and intense management and flat out just effort. But that can’t last forever and when you get over that hump and get some recognition and a few runs on the board, you do need to find some distractions away from work because it is not your life. You get to becoming of a person like me and you realize that some of the time you spend at work could have been better spent otherwise. So, find yourself something to do outside of work. That time will mentally prepare you for that Monday morning onslaught when you get there and you can soften that on by getting there an hour earlier clearing your inbox and be ready for everyone to come in but find something to do to take your mind off the job. Don’t worry, as the project manager the job will come and find you.
Finally in support of all that, if you do not delegate then your hours will go up massively, so you need to be able to delegate to give yourself time off to relax. Do not feel guilty when you leave that office and there are still people there working because you are the manager and you will get plenty of call ins to work or whatever down the track. People have to do their job if they have to work an extra couple of hours tonight it doesn’t mean you have to stay with them. They are grown up people, they will call you at home if there’s a problem and in the worst case situation you can come in or you can even come in the next day it’s not going to be the end of the world. So, delegate to facilitate your time off.