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Weeknotes #194 — Smoke Fairies IV

This week has been a struggle. Every now and then I go through a phase of self-doubt, questioning everything I’m doing for my job and wondering whether I’m on the right track. It’s happened so many times before and it always passes, but while it’s here it feels like there’s a cloud hanging over me. Back when I started work in 1999 I quickly moved from software development to analysis and project management and that’s where I’ve stayed. But I’ve always wondered what would have happened if I had dived deeper into coding and built my technical skills.

I have a few things on my ‘big milestones’ list that I haven’t achieved yet this year. Now that there are only a handful of weeks left this year, the things not done are nagging at me. I don’t know whether it is because I’ve had to get involved in other work, or whether I just gravitate to projects and tasks that are less nebulous and easier to move to the ‘done’ pile. Having so much latitude in my job is a real blessing, but is also sometimes difficult to navigate. It will pass.

This was a week in which I:

  • Met with a colleague to discuss our approach for improving management of unstructured data across Microsoft 365. This project will be ramping up over the remainder of the year and into next.
  • Worked on a draft outline of a presentation for an annual senior management meeting focused on our staff.
  • Took part in a retrospective for my immediate team, looking at how we work and thinking about how we can improve our processes. It was so useful to go through this in a guided way; we haven’t been this introspective in some time.
  • Attended our monthly risk management meeting. We’ve made great progress in closing out some items and moving forward with mitigations for others.
  • Shared an overview of my team’s remaining key deliverables for 2022 in our department meeting.
  • Took part in the weekly project meeting for closing down one of our regional offices.
  • Spent time with colleagues in a sister department to discuss ‘ways of work’ and how they might approach improving their culture and processes. It feels as though I am building a good rapport with the team.
  • Went through our ‘ways of working’ journey so far with a recent joiner in our team. Next week we’ll look at how we can take it forward from where we are right now.
  • Enjoyed a Learning Hour presentation by one of my team members on how to use the Invision web app.
  • Saw our team complete a major network infrastructure change in one of our regional offices, completing the work that they have been doing across all of our locations all year. It significantly simplifies our setup and puts us in a good place to build out additional capabilities.
  • Attended a ‘digital showcase’ session where a colleague presented on our API marketplace offerings.
  • Attended a Better Value Sooner Safer Happier meetup on the topic of Tilting at Supertankers: Business Agility in Large Organisations. It was well-presented and well-received, but I didn’t feel as though there was enough new information in the presentation for me.

  • Distributed the materials for, and clerked, our school governor Pay Committee meeting. We had lots to cover. I now need to put aside some time to write up the minutes.
  • Had the privilege of seeing the Smoke Fairies play live again, for a ‘one night only’ show where they played all of their singles in chronological order. They didn’t disappoint. I first saw them live ten years ago when they launched their Blood Speaks album; they get better every time I see them. I’ve been supporting them on Patreon since they got it set up; it’s lovely to get a steady stream of home-made live performances on a regular basis in return. Getting home from the venue was a drama as the trains out of London were messed up, but it was worth it. Towards the end of the gig they played a song that was released during lockdown, No Matter How This Goes, Just Make Sure That You’re Kind. It brought back memories of what a stressful time the pandemic was. Watching live-streamed gigs from the Smoke Fairies and others was a little slice of joy.

  • Did a double-take when I saw someone standing next to me that I remembered noticing at the Blood Speaks gig in 2012, as well as the Cate Le Bon Cyrk album launch that happened around the same time. It turns out that he is Roger Mairlot, known (affectionately?) as the ‘Gig Slut’, and attends hundreds of gigs in London every year. Next time I see him I will say hello.

  • Finally got to take my new bike on a ride after a little break from all of the rain we’ve had. I rode out to Milton Keynes to see my eldest son take part in a Chiltern League cross-country run. It was joyous. We are going to have a lot of fun together. I can’t wait to get back to Saturday morning rides with the bike club.

  • Met up with a couple of close friends on Friday night to go for a pub dinner. It had been a long time since I’d seen one of my friends in the flesh and it was great to spend time with him.
  • Went to a dinner party with some friends who live a couple of streets away. They are amazing hosts and nobody went without a drink or something to eat for more than a few seconds.

Next week: A bulging diary, culminating in — at long last — meeting the people of WB-40.

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