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Why all project managers should love Mondays and hate Fridays. November 5, 2012

Posted by thefieldgeneral in funny, Project Management.
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Why does everyone love Fridays? I hate Fridays! Fridays are the project manager’s bane. Not only is it impossible to get anything done on Fridays, but Murphy’s Law goes into overdrive. Say TGIF if you will, but when I wake up on Friday I say OMGIF.

Thank you to beau-foto @http://www.flickr.com/photos/belkins/

OMGIF is a military project term loosely related to FUBAR. FUBAR is the post project disaster term used when someone explains to you after the fact that a disaster has hit. Your response is, “How did that happen? My project is FUBAR!” OMGIF occurs when you discover an impending project disaster you cannot avoid as in “What do you mean that is happening? OMG I’m F’d.”

Most TGIFers seem to be driven by the mistaken notion of the end of the work week. The problem with this is that a large portion of the population still does school or work on the weekend. Some estimates are that 35% of the U.S. population works each weekend. The rest of the estimates say the number is higher. As service industries move more and more to 24/7 operations, it will only get worse. Think about all those poor people working next time you shout TGIF.

Here are the 5 reasons I love Mondays and hate Fridays.

1. Traffic

Mondays are the best traffic day of the “work week”. Friday between 5 PM and 6 PM is the worst hour for traffic period. Atlanta rush hour is even worse starting at 4:30 and going till 7:00.

My wife points out, however, that the rush hour is morally valuable. One has to wonder why they call it rush hour when all we do is wait in our cars. They should call it wait hour as sitting in our vehicles, on our tails for 1 to 2 hours not only makes us wait to move, but makes us gain weight due to lack of time to exercise. Then, after waiting, we eat fast food to make up time and thus we gain more weight. If you can avoid rush hour, you can lift weights which causes your metabolism to speed up. Then you might lose weight and attract the attention of fast women. Thus, rush hour keeps you safe from fast women. Moral value is proven.

2. Absenteeism

Fridays are the main day people miss voluntarily for work. Mondays are the other day people take off, but the vast majority of Mondays people take off are holidays. Projects generally take a holiday on holidays. For a project manager, absenteeism is annoying. You cannot get the answers you need, critical meetings cannot happen, and tasks may slip.

The worst thing that can happen is a project emergency that requires your missing expert. Other than during deployment, rarely are there true project emergencies. They tend to be “emergences” instead. Some black beast from the depths pokes its head out of the surface of the still, calm waters that were your project and shambles to shore wreaking havoc on all in its path. These issues can really wait. You should seal yourself in your bunker and hold on tight. But only the most talented and prepared project managers can stave off the screaming, frightened townsfolk (read clients and execs) until help arrives on Monday. Instead the project team goes charging out into the mist with baseball bats and pitchforks where the monster beats the heck out of them with their own limbs and feeds them their toes. Monday, your absentee, the Rambo-nator, shows up with his truckload of AK-47s, body armor, and slimy project monster repellent. He chases the project monster back into the depths in a few moments while you try to salvage the tattered remains of your project and patch up the bruised and bloodied team members. It happens so often and so consistently, I can only imagine that the beastly project monsters are watching us from the depths even now.

3. Running out of week.

Every week starts with lots of opportunities (translated problems). For the fearless field generals that manage projects, this is a time for hope. You will never have more of your most precious resource than you have right now. You have time.

You also have reinforcements. Rambo-nators are pouring into the trenches to relieve the poor limbless, toe-less sods that have been fighting the weekend war. The more conservative Rambo-nators are flush with spiritual renewal. The, uh, less conservative Rambo-nators are flush because of their hangovers, but they get over that quickly. They wait eagerly for deployment and direction from you.

As the week rolls on, hope dwindles. Your list of activities reduces with excruciating slowness and time tic-tic-tics away. By Friday your bulging list is never getting done and you are in frantic triage mode. Rambo-nators are AWoL (Absent with-out leave, or I suppose AWL since technically most have taken leave). The absent Rambo-nators flit through the hills happy and carefree as the still pools of your project stirs and dark things poor forth.

Always on Friday, I find my list less done than I hoped.

4. Fridays are bad for diets and projects

Have you noticed that people always want to go out on Fridays? It is not usually to Larry’s Lettuce Shop either. Olive Garden, Pizza Hut, and other Italian restaurants are the most common. Notice a common theme here? Food that is bad for you.

Besides the diet busters, there are two big things about Friday lunches that annoy me as a project manager. First is the time. Since everybody has to take their 15 man team out on Friday, it leaves no place for my 15 man team. Our time is doubled because of waiting. (It’s Friday, and no surprise, the whole time we’re waiting and sitting, the restaurants call it the lunch “rush”. Now I’m sitting on my butt and eating badly again. At least I’ll never see that fast woman.)

Second, after all that heavy food my Rambo-nator resources are turned into super-sloths. Meetings are late and decisions can be made next week. More resources crawl off in the guise of “heading out early”. I am sure they are going home to sleep off lunch.

5. 4-6 PM on Friday’s are the front line’s Dumping Ground

Note that EOW (end of week) is only one letter from EWW (EWW!) If you have ever been in project management or any kind of secondary support role (tier 2 or higher), you know what happens between 4 and 6 on Friday. The front line wants to go home and they start dumping their issues on your desk. These are issues they have been working on all day, or all week, or God forbid even longer. But at 4 PM on Friday, they know that you are charging towards the door, and they cannot help but stick their leg out to trip you. After all, if you make it out, they will be stuck with their problem. As you face plant, they dump their issue on you, and sprint for the exit. Your job is to grab them by the leg and not let them leave until you can go too. Tit for Tat.

It is real. Nearly every week between 4 and 6 PM on Friday, some disaster shows up on my desk that should have been there (if I’m lucky) hours earlier. If I’m unlucky, it’s been festering for days and has crawled forth from the still waters as an “emergence”, a true project monster. Often, I have no choice but to buckle down and venture into the mist clutching some ineffective weapon and fearing for my toes.

Go ahead say,”TGIF”. But for me it will always be OMGIF.

Tell me what you think about Friday.

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