A project manager on vacation

– Will the sky fall if I take a two week leave, boss? I asked my former programme manager some years ago.

– Yes, he responded abruptly.

He still let me go. I suspect it was because I mentioned I am traveling to France, his home country.

And the sky did not fall. To the contrary, stars were brighter upon my return as I came back refreshed, full of impressions. My happy brain and the fairy creativity renewed their vows. My productivity increased. It lasted for a good half a year, a critical time for the change management we were implementing in a big private bank.

In 14 days we travelled 2000 km from Paris to San Remo and back, visiting 3 countries, stopping overnight in locations on our route, enjoying the hospitality of new hosts every evening. It was a travel in time, as our itinerary included the Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct that crosses the Gardon River in southern France and Arena of Nîmes, a Roman amphitheatre, built around AD 70. Visiting ancients sites puts things into perspective. For example, is that internal chatter about the perfection of the new marketing strategy important in the big scheme of things of giving to the clients the good product they expect? These lasting monuments reiterate what we know and tend to forget: things that last are not build in one day and not by one person.

A change of scenery decluttered the busy brain. Colours took over numbers running over and over in the brain. Scents and sounds put office chatter to sleep. Deadlines surrendered to Sunrises and Sunsets.

A busy mind requires a busy vacation. Project managers do have a busy work life, no doubt about it. So, why not get passionate and be a good project manager to your vacation? Plan it well to every foreseeable detail and bring it to a successful completion, with satisfactions to last. On budget, if possible. If not, your recharged batteries will soon requited it. I am positive. If not, your banker might find out what motivates you 🙂

stock-photo-hawaiian-vacation-sunset-concept-two-beach-chairs-at-sunset-98725346I run into this article and gladly share it: 5 Rules for a Vacation that’s Truly Worth It by Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, Harvard Business Review June 05, 2015, https://hbr.org/2015/06/5-rules-for-a-vacation-thats-truly-worth-it

“….What can we learn about how to take leisure time from these true masters in the art of living?

  1. Move and exercise. Evolutionary science tells us that our fancy brains developed not while we were lounging but while we were working out. Our ancestors moved around all the time. And we should use our holidays to do the same—especially those of us in jobs that keep us at meeting tables or desks all day.
  2. Find peaceful, beautiful surroundings. Nature not only helps you listen to your inner voices; it can also inspire new purpose and passions.  My wife María and I were walking through the solemnly beautiful Júcar Canyon in Castilla-La Mancha, when we decided to move from Madrid to Buenos Aires so I could make the most important and successful job change of my life.
  3. Meet different, interesting people. In one of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks, there is a to-do list of 15 tasks. At least eight involve consultations with other people and two focus on other people’s books.  The world’s most productive people are deeply curious and collaborative and constantly seek out new acquaintances and allies – even when they’re on vacation.
  4. Be willing to invest. Many of us are biased toward tangible luxuries. We spend more on houses, cars, clothes, and other things, which very soon lose their initial attraction and generate all sorts of worries and maintenance needs, than we do on experiences, which, according to research, offer more long-term satisfaction, providing not only pleasure but also a chance to learn and grow. Quality vacations are one of the highest-return investments you can make.
  5. Plan properly. Never leave your holidays to chance. Seamless air travel, nice accommodations, guaranteed restaurant and tour bookings—all of these will make your time off more productive and enjoyable. Besides, the preparation itself can be fun. Imagine everything you might possibly do, then pick the places and activities which will give you best opportunities for renewal and reinvention and let you create the most unforgettable memories.”
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