I spent most of this week on my own at home as Mrs D took the boys back to her parents’ house for a school holiday visit. I took advantage of them being away to catch up with a few things and ended up not finishing work until 9pm at the earliest for three days on the trot. Early in my career I used to work late all of the time, and to good effect — being there in the evening with no meetings and no interruptions really gives you the space to plough through the backlog. I managed to keep all of the big things moving forward and it was a satisfying feeling at the end of the week.
It’s never the right time to take a holiday. I’m off soon and need to prep for it — there are so many moving parts on the programme that need to be handed over. Plus, I’m really enjoying myself at the moment, and it feels like a shame to stop. Holiday season is weird in that you can go for over a month without seeing some of your colleagues. Staff at my client’s office in Johannesburg are projecting puzzled looks to those of us in London (“Is the whole of the UK going on holiday or something?” Yes!) but they’ll get their revenge in December.
We’re still a few steps away from completing our software rollout in our final city. A couple of calls with Gartner analysts on how other companies have approached it haven’t helped that much but we have one more in the diary which looks more promising.
On the broader project we still have a mountain to climb over the couple of weeks to close out on our architectural vision. We have a regular call with the wider team and there are palpable ‘lightbulb moments’ from each person as they jump over the fence of understanding and really get what it is we’re trying to do. Not everyone has made the leap yet so we will keep having to try and explain it from different angles until we find the specific way that lands with each person.
The client I am working for right now is very good at bringing in apprentices and work experience staff and I’ve had the privilege of spending some time with them over the past few weeks. It’s difficult to put myself in their shoes, where the whole world of work is so new. Years ago, in my school holidays I was employed for a time as an Office Angels temp, doing data entry and junior secretarial work. I remember one of my early assignments at Siemens in Bracknell, where I didn’t even have a clue as to what was appropriate to wear to work. The staff were pretty friendly but one or two loved to tease me and it felt like there was such a gulf between me and everyone else. Somehow as the months and years passed it started to click into place. The young staff I’ve been talking to were all born post-9/11 which is difficult to comprehend in itself One person asked me how mobile phones worked — I guess that as technology becomes ubiquitous it also becomes invisible.
One thing I would say to anyone twenty years younger than me would be to look at getting a financial adviser. I’m going to be 42 this year and wish that I had done it years ago. Leaving permanent employment to set up my own business as an IT contractor spurred me to looking for help and so far I’ve had a very positive experience. Our adviser has reviewed our entire financial situation and have told us what and how we need to save each year to ensure a comfortable retirement, and they have looked at all of our insurance polices to make sure that we have robust plans in place. For a long time I’ve been wanting to move my pensions out of the bog-standard funds that my previous employers chose and into specific ethical investments but it has always felt so complicated. Our adviser specialises in ethical investments and we will soon be rid of funding fossil fuels, arms, and other undesirable things as we grow older.
The weekend was a delight, with the boys making an early start at the Watford Park Run on Saturday followed by a picnic at Savile Gardens with some lovely friends, rounded off by a family movie night featuring The Sound of Music.
On Sunday I managed to get on my bike for a couple of hours in the heat, cycling down to my parents’ house to join everyone for my Dad’s 65th birthday celebrations. My parents have always known how to throw a party and this was no exception — a barbecue, a buffet and a musician to entertain everyone on a gorgeous afternoon.
Next week: Binge-working and prep for a break.