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A Manager’s Trip – from insane to sane

I can’t shake off the impression that being a manager and guilt somehow goes hand in hand. It seems like managers cannot have a peace of mind for a few minutes, especially in the current online world. A manager is online 24/7, on her laptop, blackberry, smartphone. The work follows her like a shadow (which the online world basically is). But instead of embracing this digital world, managers tend to dislike it. In my opinion, the reason for that is that managers still have the illusion of a traditional work-life-balance. I have noticed that the traditional work-life-balance, in other words, 8 hour work day (Monday to Friday) does not exist.

The manager will always lose with the traditional 5 work day (38 hours/week) mindset. It seems like the manager cannot satisfy anybody, not even herself. Of course you can always work harder and much more, but the fact is not how much you work rather than how effectively you use your time. The reality is that you cannot work on three projects at the same time. You cannot persuade yourself by thinking three hours of sleep every night is fine. These habits will lead to a self-destructing life sooner or later. If you want to be effective as a manager then you have to commit yourself on one task at a time. You are asking why?

Pretty simple: sleep deprived people are not good at rational decision making nor are they awake enough for decoding the gut feeling which helps to make the right decision. (There is a reason why studies found out that a person with 24 hours sleep deprivation drives as a good as someone who is drunk). Hence, people who lack a lot of sleep are basically useless.

So what could be the solution to this problem? You could quit your job and start growing vegetables in your garden or just make a few changes to your lifestyle. For example, I have found these solutions working for me:

  1. I sleep 8 hours a day (here are 10 reasons why) and that means I am not reachable except when someone is calling my emergency number.
  2. I stopped doing several things at a time, instead I do only one task at a time – multitasking is a myth, which simply does not work (if you do not believe me look at this interview with Stanford professor Clifford Nass).
  3. As a Scrum Consultant I have learned to commit myself to the one thing at a time. In other words to my sprint planning and daily tasks, which leads to a focused and better outcome.

My main responsibility as a ScrumMaster is to enhance efficiency, and a burned-out Manager would stop the productivity completely. As a ScrumMaster you have to act as a manager, shrink, developer, doctor, engineer, etc. I call it a 360° versatile role. So this goes out to the managers who understand where I am coming from. Just try this for a month and tell me about your experiences.