Weeknotes #69–70 — It all blends into one

A couple of weeks in which I…

  • Enjoyed life as a permanent employee, with my first paid Easter holiday for some time. As a contractor over the past few years I have generally worked through public holidays, but this time I only had a few hours of work to catch up on. Although the long weekend was over quickly, and I wasn’t sure what I’d done with the time, it was a welcome break.
  • Had a meeting with HR to talk about my personal development goals. I’m not yet used to other people taking an interest in me in this way again. The company has been incredible so far, particularly with showing empathy and genuine concern for staff wellbeing during this very difficult time. It’s such a great place to work.
  • Took receipt of the new laptops for our Sao Paulo office and coordinated their setup remotely. Once again, Microsoft’s Autopilot and Intune worked wonders. We now have staff from four out of our five offices up and running with their new computers and we’re working on getting the remainder done as soon as possible.
  • Rebooted the work to get our Beijing office set up with our new IT stack. We had a video call with a potential vendor in China and I am in the process of lining up similar meetings for this week.
  • Ran our monthly IT Steering Committee. We’re in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment and this was reflected by the meeting being the shortest one yet.
  • Set up and ran our first Steering Committee meeting for a new project to organise and manage our ‘unstructured data’ in London. It was great to have the right people in the room, agree what their roles and responsibilities were and to get them to make some key decisions. This project is going to keep me busy over the next few months.
  • Took part in pilot training sessions for Microsoft Teams. It’s great when you go into training thinking you are an expert user, knowing everything there is to know, and you actually pick up lots of tips and tricks. We’re looking to roll out the training to all of our staff and it was good to give some feedback before we do.
  • Felt as though I am still spending way too much of my work day in meetings. I know I’m not the only one to feel this way, but I have the data to back it up. Apparently I’m the 8th biggest user of Teams in the whole company of 50,000 people, with 188 hours of meetings over the past 90 days! It’s a little bit energy-sapping, and does leave me wanting to avoid social video calls over the weekend as they can feel too much like work.
  • Had an hour with a couple of colleagues talking about GTD. I don’t know anyone who follows the methodology to the letter, but it’s a good guide for how to keep focused and productive. There’s no one magic bullet to solve all of the personal productivity problems, but the fact you keep trying to improve is probably half the battle.
  • Drove a car for the first time in a month, in order to pick up a ‘click and collect’ order from the supermarket. I’ve seen pictures of people keeping their distance and heard stories from my wife, but it was still shocking to see a queue to the store stretching all around the car park with people spread out two meters apart from each other. I was grateful not to have to interact with anything except my shopping and the plastic crates that they wheeled out to my car.

  • Took delivery of a couple of boxes of alcohol-free beer from Big Drop and Brewdog. The Brewdog beers have all been incredible, particularly their coffee stout. So much flavour. It’s lovely to have a variety in the house again.
  • Enjoyed the fruits of my 10 year-old’s labour after he signed up to a weekly cooking class. The lessons are via Zoom at the moment and he cooks alongside lots of his friends. So far I’ve enjoyed some incredible chocolate easter cakes as well as cheesy soda bread. Everyone wins!
  • Played some Xbox racing games — Trackmania Turbo (a bargain at around £6.50 in the Xbox store, with hours of split-screen multiplayer fun) with my boys and Forza Motorsport 6 with my mates. My friends and I seem to have fallen into having Tuesday nights scheduled as gaming nights, and I’m feeling like a teenager again. Inspired by the Virtual Chinese Grand Prix at the weekend, we’re planning on playing F1 2019 ourselves.
  • Watched more TV and films with my family than I have done in a very long time. I introduced them to the wonder of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, although I don’t think they were quite as taken by them as I am. We all enjoyed watching The English Game on Netflix about the start of professional football in the late 1800s, as well as the Race Across The World. It’s been really lovely to have a couple of shows that we can share and enjoy together. Recommendations for similar programmes would be welcome!
  • After getting a puncture on my turbo trainer — something that I thought would be a near-impossibility — I have dropped my old cyclocross rubber for a ‘proper’ turbo tyre. The difference it has made to the riding is incredible, with hardly any noise and what feels like much less resistance. Since switching over I’ve upped my FTP setting from 122 to 170 and am still not sure I’ve got it right. I’ll keep tweaking.

  • Felt as though now may be the time to try and learn the guitar. I bought a relatively cheap acoustic from Tanglewood and have started to play a few chords. I think that the key is going to be having the guitar in easy reach to be able to pick up and practice a little bit each day, so I’ll have to think about where best in the house to put it.

Next week: Continuing to push on with all the projects, in all of the countries.

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