Weeknote #23 — Thought You Knew

So busy. Travelling home on Friday night my overwhelming feeling was that the waves are coming into the boat faster than I can bail them out. In the middle of conversations I keep suddenly remembering things that I have taken on and need to get done. The GTD ‘trusted system’ has left the building.

On Monday we have the next programme steering committee, the first for a couple of months. Despite blocking out as much free time in my diary as I could at the start of the week, I still got to Friday without the materials being done so I had to finish them off at the weekend. There are so many distractions and little chats at work, ranging from the important to the trivial. On Thursday I had a block of free time and resorted to donning my headphones but it didn’t help much. I’ll be working at home for most of the coming week and I’m looking forward to it.

I feel like the programme is still in ‘setup mode’ for the real work to come. I have hours and hours of stuff to get through with the team in order to get ourselves organised for the rest of the year. I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach that it’s going to be great but I am continually worried about loose ends not being picked up by the team, and not doing enough myself to keep us on track. Twice this week I woke up in a heart-beating panic at 5am filled wit terror that I had missed my alarm; I’m pretty sure it wasn’t jetlag from last week’s trip to Johannesburg that caused it.

In the middle of the week an appointment was slapped right in the middle of one of my ‘keep frees’ to spend time with two young people on work experience. Despite initially being annoyed at another obstacle being put in the way of me getting done what I needed to last week, it was great to meet them, try to see the world through there eyes and describe the bizarrely abstract nature of what we do at work. A few months ago we had an apprentice join the company aged only 16; she already seems many years older than the two work experience children that I met and now brims with confidence. The conversation took me back to my own work experience at their age — I spent a week in the office at Mill Ride Golf Club doing not much of anything. My overriding memories are (a) the turkey and cranberry sandwiches for lunch in the club house, (b) learning what a debenture is and (c) being let home early. It was hard to judge how much of an impact I had — they might have been thinking anything from “please, tell me more, this is gold” to “this is the most insanely boring thing I have ever heard in my life”; it was difficult to get feedback. Maybe in 25 years they’ll be writing some weeknotes about their memories of it.

The team we are working with who own the desktop build for our final two offices have been working hard and we’ve now got some tentative dates for our software rollout there. There are still some tests to be done and issues to work through but it is good to start planning around something concrete again.

I had a couple of meetings this week which reminded me how magical it feels to have a blank whiteboard, to use it as a conversational tool and then step back at the end to find we have created something very useful out of thin air. It gives me the same buzz as writing a blog post; you start with nothing, do some stuff and at the end you have created a thing. So satisfying.

We had a Surface Hub installed in the office for the past 2-3 weeks as a bit of an experiment. It was interesting to see how many people were brave enough to approach it, particularly that the default screen displayed a message to encourage people to interact with it. My experience was mixed — up-close the light from the screen was blinding and made it difficult to work with for long periods; it reminded me of the times as a child that my mum told me that I was sitting too close to the television. Being able to ‘lasso select’, move and resize a whiteboard-sized drawing was brilliant, although unfortunately at one point it crashed with a pop up box that I couldn’t get rid of so I had to resort to taking a photo of the screen. I’ve never had a whiteboard crash on me.

Surface Hub dialogue box that would just not go away. Screen contents pixellated deliberately by me.

Surface Hub dialogue box that would just not go away

On Thursday I had a great night out with some very old friends at a swanky bar in London. I used to work with one of them nearly 20 years ago and we’ve been friends ever since. I was so lucky to start my career working with such a great bunch of people that I still keep (sporadically) in contact with. It’s been a couple of years as they now live in Singapore after having had a stint in New York. I didn’t know anyone else there and it was fun to meet such an eclectic cast of characters that all had a friendship in common.

I continue to be just about keeping afloat with my school governor responsibilities. We had a long meeting this week which went really well, with some key strategic decisions being made for the school. We now only have one Pay Committee and one Full Governing Board meeting left this year and I want to try and make it a strong finish. My lack of time means that I am massively underperforming in the role of Chair and it needs someone else to pick it up and kick it back into gear. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to hand over the reins during the summer and stay on next year in a smaller role, but I need to make sure that we have someone who is happy to step up first.

It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve noted anything cultural here in the weeknotes. I have somehow picked up listening to a gorgeous album called Thought You Knew by Snowpoet. It’s a thing of delicate beauty that rewards repeated listens; it’s been a long time since I heard an album that made me press play again as soon as it finished. Here’s a live version of Pixel from the album. Just lovely.

Next (this!) week: Working at home for most of it while my wife is away on a school Year 6 residential trip — a great chance to ‘eat my own dogfood’ and experience mobile working for an extended period with our current tools. The Programme Steering Committee with a governor meeting (by teleconference — go us!) in the evening. More diary battling and orchestrating the many-headed hydra of a programme that we are developing. Plus all of the usual things Mrs D does (which I am already so grateful for) in sorting out the kids, cats and the rest of the household. Already looking forward to a strong finish to the week with an inaugural monthly ‘Lunch Club’ where we will start to test out the many wonderful places to eat in the vicinity of my client’s office.

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