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Take Your Vacation (#12 - 4/27/23)
Every time I go on vacation, I’m reminded of how important it is. Not just for me and my mental health, but for my team, my organization, and the processes we’ve put in place. I’ve written about it a few times as well:
This time around was no different. I put together a coverage document for my boss and direct reports so things in flight would have coverage. I let my stakeholders know I would be away from X date to Y date and who to contact for what sorts of problems, questions, or concerns. I defined what an emergency was in case something absolutely exploded while I was away. And then I turned it all off.
The night before my first day off I deleted Slack, turned on my out-of-office message in Gmail, and cleared out my calendar. Then I slipped into vacation mode.
And you know what? Everything was fine. The team kept working. My direct reports had what they needed to be successful, and nothing went up in flames.
For so long I was scared to go on vacation, not because I didn’t trust my teams, but because I was insecure.
Several years ago I’d become too self-important and thought everything would fall apart if I wasn’t constantly checking in. What a slap in the face to my teams and those working with me, and what an egotistical way for me to think about myself.
That is no longer the case, thankfully. This last vacation solidified everything for me, and I’m starting to see the additional benefits of PTO. Some things I noticed this time around:
Solid mental reset (forreal, switch off)
Being more present and more focused
Clarity of what’s important (both outside and inside of work)
Another nudge of where documentation or processes can be bolstered
Strive to take your vacation and strive for shutting off completely. Do the leg work up front to give yourself that space. Force yourself to take time off. Force your teams to take time off. Time off pays off for everyone in the long run, and I challenge anyone to prove that wrong.
If you’re having trouble taking time off, challenge yourself. Go through the 5 Why’s and really get a good sense of what it is that’s holding you back. Heck, if you’re still not convinced, tell me all the reasons you don’t think you can take time off and we’ll discuss it together.
Stakeholder Roadshows and Process Changes for Customer Experience - Part 2 - Harshal Patil - The value of roadshows and working with stakeholders is an invaluable piece of product companies
A Fresh Perspective on Forecasting in Software Development - Phillip Rogers - Forecasting is hard, period. Phillip takes a look at some of the noise that clouds forecasts and the bias that further clouds the process
Don’t Create Chaos - Stay SaaSy - This seems obvious, but reducing and not contributing to chaos are two critical elements of leadership. I especially like the note of “when in doubt, overcommunicate.”
What Do Employees Want When They Return To The Office? - Forbes - I’m fortunate that this isn’t something I have to think about (fully remote), but an important note for all: “Over half of all employees feel overworked and burned out, and over three-quarters experience “Zoom fatigue” and want less meetings”
Protecting Your Schedule - Me! - Speaking of meetings, I’ll be hosting a live webinar with O’Reilly Friday, May 5. In the webinar, you’ll learn strategies for overcoming the single greatest impediment to focused, meaningful work: meetings.
What I’m Reading: First Lords’ Fury - Codex Alera
While on vacation I finally finished off the Codex Alera series. High fantasy in a realm where folks have furies they can control, the series covers a farmboy (Tavi) as he rises through the ranks, using his superior wit an tactics to overcome adversity and beat down his enemies. Pretty solid book overall with plenty of magic, large battles, and twists to keep most folks engaged.
Cool news, I’m now a mentor on MentorCruise! If you’re a new engineering leader or looking to hone your craft further, let me know and we can get some time set up!
As always, let me know below if you have any thoughts, questions, or comments!