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Avoid PM Burnout. Go fishing!

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Fishing-with-DadProject Managers…I have an important question for you: how do you avoid burnout?

From the look on my dad’s face in this photo, he has it figured out!  His only concern is the size of the hybrid bass on the other end of that line.  Dad is feeling pressure-free and enjoying a great day.

Right now, I have friends managing some high-pressure projects:

  • Construction of a stadium with a $1.3 billion price tag.
  • Data conversion and management for a little website called
  • Implementation of a new financial forecasting model just in time to build & support the rate case for one of the nation’s largest, investor-owned utilities.

These high-stake projects have a lot in common.  They are very complex; require the coordination of resources from many agencies & organizations; involve intense scrutiny and oversight; and deliver a heavy dose of stress.  They have something else that makes them similar: the PMs and teams are acutely susceptible to burnout.

It should come as no surprise. My friends and their team members are struggling to stay on top of hard schedules and meet deadlines.  They are working long hours, and in some cases, on the road each week.  Those that are married are feeling guilty for the time away from spouses, kids, and other commitments.  They’ve got pressure from all angles.

One of those PMs snuck away Saturday and fished with Dad and me.  For many months on this project dating back to last year, his routine has been to work at the customer’s office from 6:30am until 8:30pm. Then, he works from home on the weekends, and push, push, push.  The day we fished, he had emails until 1:30am Sat. morning and was on the phone by early morning troubleshooting issues with the team while I drove us to the lake.  By some miracle, he stayed awake and did not drop his phone in the lake …although a phone splash may have been a good thing.

Back to my question: how do you avoid burnout?  How do you find the balance?  What steps do you take to avoid the fatigue?

Fishing with my Dad is a sure cure!  (He would be quick to clarify: in that photo, Dad is catching…not fishing There’s a difference, you know. )  But, we cannot all possibly go fishing with Dad.

Reality check: when you are drained and broken, you are no good to the team.  So, how do you relieve the stress and achieve life balance?  What’s your plan?

If you have trouble answering this question, you are at risk of burnout.  Time to develop a plan!

PS – we caught about 40 hybrid bass, striper, and catfish…a banner day!  And, that’s no fish story…

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