Have you ever gotten the feeling that the universe was trying to send you a message?

Yesterday afternoon, I read this article about the effects of sleep on overall, long-term health. It had been sitting in my reading list for awhile, but a recent bout of insomnia got me to actually pay some attention to it. Most striking were the connections between poor sleep and cancer.

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been promising myself some “me” time, but really only giving lip service to the notion. When I got home last night, I decided to follow through on my promise with a hot bath. Of course while I was soaking, I continued reading. Two articles, later, I was really getting that feeling that the universe was trying to send a message. The first “Why we Need to Stop Romancing the Grind“, pointed out the folly of wearing busy-ness as a badge of honour. The second, “15 Easy Ideas for Serious Self-Care“ was a well-needed reminder that self-care doesn’t have to take a lot of time.

As the hot water eased stiffness that I hadn’t even been aware of, my creative juices started to flow. I emerged energized, ready to pull an all-nighter to get all of my ideas down on paper while I was still feeling inspired. Then I caught my breath and recognized how often Project Managers set aside their personal needs to get something done. How many times have you said, “I just need to get this email out, then I can relax”? Have you ever thought that 10 minutes of meditating might make the email flow more smoothly?

Good Project Managers don’t sleep.
Great Project Managers sleep like babies.

Project Managers always have a dozen things on our mind. Even in our down time, there are thoughts flitting through our heads of issues, solutions, and team member’s dramas. Good project managers let this mental activity take priority, and when we go to bed at night, it takes a long time to “shut down” our brains and get some real sleep. We think that by putting our team member’s needs first, we can keep them happy and productive, so there is always one more thing to get done before we take care of ourselves.

Great Project Managers recognize busy work for what it is and replace it with what they really need to be successful: sleep. They recognize the importance of their own well-being and take time to protect it, which makes us much more effective the next day. We might not get as much done today, but we can do a better job of it tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep.

Last night I decided to forgo the all-nighter and get some sleep instead. I asked myself: who would be harmed by me writing this article a day later? The answer was “nobody”. Of course, there is a slim possibility that reading this article a day earlier would truly have changed a reader’s life (and if so, do let me know). More likely, though, is that my writing is more coherent and my message clearer because of the sleep I got in between.

So I urge you to think of yourself once in awhile; remember that taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do for your project team. And if you are having trouble thinking of ways to do that, join me for a glass of wine and I’m sure we can come up with something.

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