Last week, most of my friends didn't hear much from me, both online and in reality. That's because I had one of those fun times when the big bosses come in and ask the team to deliver something special very quickly, above and beyond our usual commitments. These are pretty normal in our line of work, but I was shocked by how gobsmacked I got by it.
The actual task is probably not that important. Suffice it to say that we had people all over the world contributing pieces all week, and at the end we had a small group locked into a conference room for a day to make the final push and get things done on time.
But of course, some things went wrong. A software build process that had worked flawlessly for months decided to break and it was defying our efforts to fix it. Hardware we expected to use had different specs than we had anticipated. Some major surgery had to be done on hardware and software, all unplanned of course.
On that special day, I remember looking around our "dungeon" at our team and saying, "Well friends, I'm delighted to have had lunch with you today. I really hope I don't have to have dinner with you too." And fortunately, we did get done with our task by 6:30PM (even though we had thought to be done by 2:00PM). And the good news, of course, is that we met our milestone and got stuff delivered on time.
Anybody in the high tech industry will recognize this kind of sprint to get something special accomplished. When I'm done, I'm usually exhausted but happy, delighted in the team that came together and made it happen. I am extraordinarily proud of the team that pulled this off!
But I was surprised at the toll this took on me personally. For some reason this time, I felt really wiped out every evening during this week-long sprint. By the weekend, I didn't feel like doing much of anything but be with my family and be a vegetable.
Why was this such a drainer on me?
- I wasn't able to take care of my body very well. Most days I do certain things to keep myself healthy in the physical, nutritional and spiritual areas, but I was recovering from an injury last week. As a result, I couldn't get in my daily run, which meant I had less energy than usual.
- Rather than my normal eating habits, I was snacking on things like cookies and taking in more calories than usual. This was also causing me to feel really wiped out.
- Of course, I didn't allow myself enough time to sleep, so I was taking in more than the usual quantity of really good quality caffiene. Although coffee can give a nice temporary boost, I find myself less energetic long term. The big problem is probably lack of hydration. By the end of the day, the lack of drinking proper amount of fluids takes a major toll on me.
So the lesson is obvious - take care of yourself when you are sprinting! Don't just assume you can get it done just on having the guts and the goods. There may not be time for all of the things you are accustomed to doing to take care of yourself, so allow time for recharging for the next sprint.