in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #99 — Rare insomnia

I really struggled to stay afloat this week. I had so many meetings and urgent things to move forward with that I didn’t have enough time for the bigger, more important work that I really need to push forward with. Friday came quickly, but I ended it under a pile of tasks and unprocessed emails. I’m feeling exhausted and, unusually for me, I didn’t sleep well this week; one night I lay in bed with a sense of panic that I was late to start the day and when I finally resolved to get up, I found it was just after 2am. Prior to the pandemic I used to have two or three late evenings a week in the office where I bashed through lots of work, but this has been replaced by family time. I’m grateful to be able to eat with my children every day, but with exercise having replaced my morning commute I now have much less dedicated work time than ever.

This was a week in which I:

  • Had many early morning calls with colleagues in Sydney and Beijing.
  • Struggled to make sense of different reports about how well our network is working at one of our sites. We may need to invest in some more capable end-user experience monitoring tools to diagnose things.
  • Appreciated the candour a colleague showed in their feedback to me on how well (or otherwise) some of our regular meetings are working. This is part of the bigger thing that I am trying to prioritise.
  • Solicited feedback from each of our team members on their top 3–5 priorities for the first part of this year, as input into a top-down planning exercise.
  • Had a long-standing mental model of how a part of our infrastructure works challenged by new information. We now need to definitively answer the questions that this has thrown up and make sure that we document it for shared understanding.
  • Caught up with one of our key technology partners/suppliers on a whole raft of items that we are working on together.
  • Rebooted the project to complete the back-end infrastructure work in New York. We now have a little momentum behind us that we need to capitalise on.
  • Agreed a way forward for our backup strategy for our smaller offices.
  • Ran our two Change Approval Board meetings.
  • Reset our budget/forecast tracking spreadsheet for 2021, and reviewed the final numbers for 2020.
  • Attended an ‘all hands’ meeting on the impact of Brexit to our business.
  • Shook the tree on hiring our Head of IT Infrastructure and Operations, and generated a couple of leads to follow up with.
  • Had my first annual appraisal since becoming a full-time employee again.
  • Had two random coffees, one with a colleague in Beijing and another in London, both of whom I had never spoken to before. We now have 80 participants in the scheme and it still seems to be providing a lot of value.
  • Attended a web chat on how to make your school governing board inclusive through inclusive behaviours. The session gave me one or two things to think about that I had never considered before, so it was well worth attending.

  • Changed my habit of a lifetime of lunching at midday so that I can synchronise with the children’s gap in their school day. It’s nice to have a check-in and see how they are getting on.
  • Watched Adventures In Babysitting (1987) with my family. I don’t think I’d seen the film since I was a kid. The storyline is good and there are some brilliant moments (Albert Collins telling everyone that “Nobody leaves this place without singing the blues”), but Like many 80’s films there is some extremely problematic humour.

  • Finished reading John Steinbeck’s Bombs Away: The Story of a Bomber Team. A really strange, interesting work of propaganda that came three years after The Grapes of Wrath. I found it hard to adjust to Steinbeck being so jingoistic and celebratory about the history of US gun ownership and how it contributes to staffing the Air Force with excellent gunners, for example, when a number of his previous works had been about the common, working poor railing against big business and the state. Perhaps the magnitude of events and the need to play a part in a potentially existential crisis overrode everything.
  • Hosted Album Club on Zoom, with my pick for the month being Six by Mansun. From the feedback it seemed as though everyone enjoyed a foray into ‘Brit-prog’ from the late 1990s.

Next week: The last of our global team come back to work after their Christmas break. Time is running out for me to get the main part of my work completed, refocusing everyone with new ways of working that will allow us to ‘stop starting and start finishing’, as lean/agile advocates like to say.

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