in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #135 — Running the lines

I was determined to grab hold of this week and take control of it before it grabbed hold of me. Last week’s lack of my usual exercise routine had me feeling worn out by the time Friday evening rolled around, and I didn’t want to let it happen again. By Friday this week, I had done my usual sessions on the turbo trainer and was ready for another early morning Cycling Club ride on Saturday. On Sunday I ran the line at both of my boys’ football matches, one after the other. By the time I plonked myself on the sofa to watch the Formula One on Sunday afternoon I was ready for a rest.

Cold early autumn mornings were burnt off by the sun and were followed by beautiful warm afternoons. A late summer gang of wasps have moved into a roof cavity of part of our recent extension, but they are as out of the way as can be so we just plan to leave them there. They’ll go eventually, and whatever nest they have created may deter another group from using that same space in future.

The UK seems to have gone bananas again, this time over perceived fuel shortages. I’m grateful that we’d filled up before the news spread that companies were having to ration supplies to their filling stations. Going through town on Sunday afternoon I could see that stations were shut, presumably now out of fuel. It feels like we’ve been living in a cycle of crazy news for the past five years; I’m not sure how much of it is because I follow things much more closely versus the world, and particularly the UK, actually going potty. It’s probably both.

We’ve had a letter home from my childrens’ school to say that they are moving back to having more of a COVID-secure protocol in place, with the return of masks in communal areas and the suspension of assemblies. I know that they are doing everything they can to keep school going, with as many children in school as possible. It feels like a very fragile situation.

This was a week in which I:

  • Agreed a plan to terminate a leased line Internet link in one of our smaller offices, saving additional costs.
  • Started to look at different approaches for moving to Teams for PSTN calling in one of our offices after receiving a vendor quote for running the service. Strategically we want as many things delivered ‘as a service’ as we can get, but not if it is substantially cheaper to run them ourselves.
  • Spoke to one of our regional door access technology vendors in order to refine their quote.
  • Spent more time discussing the top-down thinking for our big group programme, how it will impact our part of the organisation and how it will be presented to senior colleagues.
  • Reviewed a template to be submitted up the line on our priorities for 2022.
  • Completed a series of 360° assessments on my peers as well as my manager ahead of some group and individual coaching sessions.
  • Went to the office on Wednesday for the third week in a row. There were more people on the morning commute but happily a greater percentage of them were wearing masks. The journey home was something else though. The office is definitely starting to get noticeably busier, with many people joining various Teams meetings from there throughout the week. This week was good for bumping into lots of different members of the team as well as business colleagues from wider areas and having those impromptu chats that don’t happen at home, but another reminder of the challenge of trying to get things done in an open plan space.
  • Joined a ’town hall’ meeting with our regional CEO and members of his management team. It had been a while since we had one and it was great to see so many people again. The team running the session gave a tour of our London office via Teams on a mobile phone, and it struck me how much confidence our colleagues now have in both the tools that we have given them and how to use them effectively. We did worry when the camera wandered through areas of the building where we have no Wi-Fi, but it all held together.
  • Used a meeting room to put the Logitech Rally equipment through its paces. We had only installed this equipment a few weeks before the first lockdown in March 2020 as part of our office refurbishment and I want to get familiar with it. The technology is excellent, and we are looking at how we can expand its use so that we can join more than just Teams meetings from the devices.
  • Caught up with all of the recent work items raised and completed across the team’s Kanban boards.
  • Completed the background reading and then chaired our first school governor meeting of the year, our Finance, Premises and Personnel Committee. A governor colleague has said that they are willing to take up this Committee Chair role, so I am stepping down from this position after many years. We also received a very useful update on the latest School Development Plan.
  • Reviewed the draft minutes for the FPP Committee and completed most of the actions that were assigned to me.
  • Took delivery of a new dishwasher, the second to make it up the driveway after the delivery guys dropped the first one. Doing the washing up was a novelty for a couple of days, but I am grateful that we’ve automated most of the process again.
  • Hosted the first Album Club with three other guys from work, via Teams. I played Joe Jackson’s Night And Day album from 1982. As requested, they didn’t hold back on their thoughts on the record. I’m loving any excuse to sit down and listen, really listen, to music at the moment. Looking forward to hearing what the next host will play.
  • Had Friday night dinner at a friends’ house. It’s so lovely that we don’t need a babysitter anymore and can just nip out for a couple of hours, safe in the knowledge that things will be fine at home.
  • Enjoyed another Saturday morning out with my eldest son and some lovely cyclists of Berkhamsted Cycle Club for a club ride.
  • Bought a bunch of records from a market stall in town. They were all £2 to £4 each so I figured I could take a gamble. Some are better quality than others, but they all seem quite well-used. I’d been after a copy of the Bee Gees’ Spirits Having Flown for a while. Sadly the title track jumps, so unless I can repair it I’ll have to stick with the digital version. What a beautiful song.

  • Continued to plough on with The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914 by Richard J Evans. It’s very interesting and well-written, but I feel like I have been reading it for ages. I’m looking forward to some lighter reads and a little bit of fiction again once I’m done.

Next week: An incredibly meeting-heavy work week, the final one before we start to go back to the office more regularly in London.

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