I feel like I’ve worn myself out this week. Monday turned to Friday in a flash, and here we are at the weekend already.
On Sunday morning, Sleep Cycle informed me that I had just experienced my best night’s rest in years and I certainly felt good for it.
I’ve been out every night this week to attend two very different school governor meetings, dinner out with an old friend, a visit to the O2 to watch my 10-year old in the Young Voices choir and then rounding it off with Album Club #84. It’s weeks like these where I remember why I decided to give up drinking as I don’t think I could easily handle being even more tired than I ended up on Friday.
I worked from home on Monday in order to squeeze more things into the day. My potential lie-in was sacrificed by being up at my usual time, replacing the morning commute with an hour on the turbo trainer. My wife’s genius idea of setting things up the night before was brilliant as I didn’t then need to faff about for 20 minutes or so in the morning, one less barrier to actually doing the exercise. I couldn’t believe how good and sharp it made me feel for the rest of the day. I’d managed to get on the turbo last weekend as well and it felt great to be back on the bike.
We managed to finish Monday night’s Full Governing Board meeting in just over two hours, about a third shorter than our last one. We always push to get the agenda and materials out a week before but typically there is the odd late paper which we need to deal with; this time we almost nailed it and it helped a great deal, taking most of the papers as read and just dealing with questions. A couple of weeks ago I attended a governance meeting chaired by someone else who did a great job of keeping everything to time; this made me really conscious of my role to keep our meeting moving along. It’s a very tricky balance to be struck between spending time on an important point and moving onto the next thing. Our Clerk sent out a really good note to the Board prior to the meeting to try and get people to hone in their responsibilities of reading the materials and bringing along good, challenging questions. Our new governors are doing a great job of this already and have a great eye for detail.
One of the problems with the role of school governor is making sure you get into (and then stay in) a rhythm of things. For example, you can spend a dedicated couple of hours looking at and learning about how to interpret school data. You’ll get it and be able to ask good, challenging questions and identify strengths and weaknesses. But if you don’t look at it again for a few months it is very difficult to recall that knowledge easily. Our Full Governing Board meetings take place six times a year which sometimes feels too little to force this rhythm and knowledge retention. More meetings is typically not the answer — we have to balance it with the availability of our Board volunteers and school staff who are always at the back end of an extremely long and busy day.
A couple of times this month I have looked at a list of my governance actions and not been able to remember whether I had completed them or not. It’s made me realise how much I rely on my ‘external brain’ of notes, emails etc. and don’t retain things in my head.
I’ve had a good focused week of work but the amount of stuff coming in has exceeded the amount of stuff going out. (Which has always been my puzzle with GTD’s assumption that you can continually manage to triage everything coming into your inbox and still have time for everything else; when and how do you look at your system and realise you need a more structural change?)
It was great to have a session with fellow weeknoter and WB40 podcast listener Dave Floyd on the challenges of Office 365 migration. On the surface things seem simple but there is significant complexity underneath. This week’s podcast episode was on the topic of Working Out Loud — including creating weeknotes like this one —and as always is well worth a listen. I was reminded that I had read John Stepper’s book of the same name last year and hadn’t yet got around to writing up my thoughts. Stepper seems to have read every management book out there and makes liberal use of references to lots of other material. For some reason the approach of ‘targeting’ people you want to develop a relationship with didn’t sit well with me and seemed a bit contrived, even if there wasn’t much emphasis on it; I always thought working out loud should be a little serendipitous and altruistic. But I’m probably wrong.
With the work stacking up this week I have been very conscious of getting into random office chats and knowing that although some of the conversations aren’t directly moving things forward, they are building relationships and sowing seeds for the future. I hope the other person doesn’t notice me being conscious of it.
A lesson (re-)learned from this week is that as much as I want to plough forward with things I need to ensure I bring everyone along with me, particularly where those things sit under their remit from day-to-day.
Had a lovely couple of email exchanges with two people I used to work with, one who has just been through a redundancy process and is making the most of the opportunities this has given her and another who really focused me on my values and how I think about myself.
I finished reading Radical Technologies by Adam Greenfield. It succinctly breaks down the topics of smartphones, the Internet of Things, augmented reality, digital fabrication, cryptocurrency, blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence, along with their societal impact and paints a number of different visions of the future. It’s very good. I’ll need to write up my thoughts on it separately but I’m sure I can’t do a better job than the most-liked Goodreads reviews of the book.
Articles and blog posts
- What Do Data Scientists and Data Engineers Need to Know about GDPR? — Andrew Burt, InfoQ
- Why Micro.blog is not another App.net — Brent Simmons, Inessential
- 10 Years of Instapaper. I have always loved Instapaper but reading the things I save there has completely dropped out of my workflow. There’s probably years of gold to mine in there.
Mrs D and I started watching Black Mirror. Compelling viewing, but the complete opposite of life-affirming, satisfying TV and it doesn’t make us want to plunge straight into the next episode. It doesn’t make me feel quite as empty is when we went to see The Piano Teacher at the cinema (horrendous, not recommended) but it’s definitely someway down that track.
This week’s earworm
I caught a bit of the BBC Four documentary on The Story of Aussie Rock and ever since then I can’t get the Easybeats’ Friday On My Mind out of my head. I’ve always loved it but seeing them throw themselves into it live adds a big spark.
Need to pick up the pieces from this week across both work and school and get all of the to-dos in one place, a job for this weekend if I can squeeze it in.
There’s a danger of me becoming a bottleneck to moving things along at work but I’ll have to balance being ‘head down’ on moving the work along with getting ‘PowerPoint-prepared’ for at least three governance committees over the next two weeks. There are so many open loops at the moment. I’m expecting to get a raft of things back from different vendors which will need to be read, compared, discussed and actioned. I’m also still trying to get a single consistent view of the whole programme that the team can look at every day.
There could be some late evenings ahead.