“I just love deadlines, especially the sound of them whooshing by” – seen on a refrigerator magnet
As we near major deadlines on multiple projects, our staff is working long hours to get the work done. I have two comments for our team response to this: 1. I appreciate your effort toward producing excellent work, and 2. Take care of yourself while you work hard.
The first of these two statements is more than an exercise of good manners. Expressing appreciation for what people do is good for their mental health. We all need to be appreciated.
The second statement is not so obvious, but is none the less true.
First of all, when we work ourselves to exhaustion, we often make ourselves susceptible to illness due to lack of rest. Studies will back this up, and I have observed it empirically over the years.
I also have found that when we keep our noses to the grindstone, we often miss the obvious. My best empirical evidence of this comes from my own experience about 30 years ago in the early days of being in practice. In those days, when still a one man firm, I would often find myself struggling to solve a design problem – it simply wasn’t coming to me. With no colleagues immediately available to bounce ideas off of, I would put the pencil down and go outside and mow the lawn or do some similar mindless chore that would consume an hour or two. I would find that when I went back into the office, the solution to the problem would pretty much bounce off the drawing board at me, and I would be able to complete my task.
As a practitioner of a profession that is notorious for abusing its employees, I make a deliberate effort to safeguard the mental health of the people around me. When we sit for hours on end in front of a computer screen, and the temptation is there to do exactly that, we lose perspective. In the effort to solve a problem so we can move on, we find ourselves tempted to settle for a mediocre solution to the problem at hand at the expense of good design. This can be avoided by balancing our hard work with a deliberate period of rest – whether twenty minutes or the occasional three day weekend.
So to my professional colleagues out there, I offer this piece of advice: work hard, but balance it with a due portion of rest, relaxation, prayer, meditation, humor, or whatever it takes to get you through the day. It will keep your axe sharp and your product worthy.