Vacations, Rest, All-Nighters and Planning

Some stuff my team currently working on: a complete frontend/backend site redesign for NewSpring, an internal web/design work order tracking app (with the goal to build, test, and then give away), an event registration app, and potentially switching our streaming media provider, which includes porting 3+ years of weekly video archives over and replacing a slew of embeds and bad code. All of this is on top of our very daily work (oh, the tyranny of urgent.)

What’s the common thread? Daily work aside, none of these projects are sprints. They will not be completed in the space of a single work week. Actually, we can’t even accomplish the initial thoughts about how to tackle some of these in the space of a single work week. We are in marathon territory. 6 month project paths, long term planning. Slow, steady, methodical, intentional. Like a bunch of semi-sweaty tortoises with low heart rates. This kind of work, and the pacing it requires to make it happen well, demands that everyone on the team is sharp, alert, and passionate. And that means we all need to be rested. 

You have a threshold you hit when you need a break. A vacation, a day off, some kind of unplugging from the workplace grind. It’s different for everyone, but once you get near it, it’s time to go sit on the beach somewhere with a fruity umbrella drink in your hand (hypothetically—or whatever it is that equals vacation for you.) If you cross over that threshold and keep working, you’re not passionate about the work, your judgement is impaired, and you make bad decisions. Then your bad decisions force the project into debt (either time, technical, or financial). If you still don’t take a break, you’re pulling all nighters to fix your screw–ups, which is essentially an admission of failure to plan. If you finally do take some vacation, as soon as you return you’re not innovating or tackling something new, you’re working to pay off that debt you created when you should have been resting.

Workaholics will eventually kill long term team productivity. Lone wolf heroes on the permanent all-nighter schedule are toxic. Find your threshold. Go somewhere sunny. Or just go home for the day. Don’t pull your team down because you refuse to take a break.