22 MARCH 2017
written by Mike
BIG PROJECT SURVIVAL
PHASE II “THE GRIND”
Ok, you planned every detail. The troops are ready to go. The battle begins slowly; everything goes according to The Plan. And suddenly, things are starting to go south; morale is falling.
What is happening?
That’s the middle no one wants to talk about. The grind, the dirt, the struggle. The time has come, the second part of the guide is due.
Focus on one task, have a specific list.
Whenever I can, I prepare material in advance. I look at the schedule and make my list. As long as I stick to it, it’s a smooth sailing.
We are in the middle of the storm here. Your plans don’t matter anymore.
What can you do?
I found that it was best to focus on one task. People will ask you for favours and help. Don’t take too much on yourself. It’s better to do one thing right than a lot of things poor. As they tend to come back later. If you want to make a list, good. But accept it will change on a day. And prioritise. You will have to decide what can wait. In the project life cycle, there will be ups and downs. In the evening, I would make a list for the morning. Midday next day I would review and change. Update it in the afternoon again. The list kept me organised, but it was easy to deviate from it too.
Don’t play the blame game, mistakes happen.
You and the rest of the team are working long hours. Everyone is tired. Mistakes will happen. It is unavoidable. Now, it can go two ways. You all can think of a solution, fix the problem and move on. Or you can blame each other. We are all human so emotions will call the first shot. Especially when someone’s mistake affected your work.
And I would be the first one to think “why is he/she doing that? What were they thinking?” only to find out, moments later, about my blunders. Work together.
It is the only way to get through it.
It can get hard, but you are all in this together. The importance of morale.
It will get hard. And if you want to push through every day, you need a great team around you. Forget about the gossip and office drama. When you see the same people day in and day out, from dusk till dawn, you know it is all or nothing. So help others if they need help, don’t let the negativity creep in. The table won’t stand if one leg is broken.
In a toxic environment, you won’t get far. Don’t show your tiredness. Understand you are in the middle of the project life cycle.
Talk to everyone, even if it’s for a brief moment.
And not just about work.
Be upbeat, other people will follow
Create a fun environment. Bring some cookies with you and make a silly joke. Have confidence in yourself and others. Misery loves company, yes it is true. But so does joy. And laughter is contagious, everyone knows that. A couple of days ago I was talking to someone about the project, and she asked me,
“How did you manage it?”
“I think it was the hardest job we’ve done. And people who have been working there for much longer, agreed. But you know what?
We had so much fun; morale was through the roof!”
And then I thought to myself if she had asked me about the worst time I had at work. I’d say it probably was when we had nothing to do.
Don’t moan, work on solutions.
You will want to complain.
Because it’s easy. And everyone can relate to it. “I’m tired. It’s late again. I haven’t seen my girlfriend in ages!” All of the above is true, I’m not going to deny it. But you knew what you were signing up for. Stating the obvious will not change anything.
And also, guess what?
Your colleagues are missing their families too. I would be too embarrassed to complain in front of my boss who was there longer than anyone else. And he’s got children, I haven’t.
If there is a setback, work on a solution. If you agreed to stay longer, don’t grumble about it.
It will only make you feel worse on the night.
If there is no one else, take the lead.
Assume responsibility when needed. When you need to talk to your boss, do it. But believe me, he or she will be much happier if you can take some stuff in your hands. I know that I talked about the chain of command before. Still, there will be moments when there is no one to turn to.
Take command, guide your peers and after the crisis, go back to your post. And there is no need to gloat. You have done your duty.
Have a healthy daily routine in place.
This one is important for me. I try to experiment with my routines, and this project was the perfect opportunity. I had to plan around the project life cycle.
I organised my food, sleep and exercise. Even though the days were long, I would still drag myself to the gym whenever I could. I watched what I ate, no junk food or sugar. I cut back on coffee, and I made sure I got, at least, seven hours of sleep a day.
So what is the verdict?
It’s good. Every day I would wake up full of energy and willpower. I sustained the heaviest period without much damage.
I can only compare to other projects when my routine was cigarettes, take away food and lack of sleep. And to be honest, I prefer the new “normal.”
You need to figure out your way. But if you stretch your body too much, you can crash and burn. Just like I did before.
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