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Weeknotes #242 — Work is like water

Monday morning commuting fun

Monday morning commuting fun

This week I’ve been thinking about how giving up my role as a school governor a couple months ago hasn’t resulted in me feeling like I’ve got any more spare time. The cognitive load must have lifted, but I’m not living a life of leisure. Work is like water in that it floods into whatever gaps are created.

There is so much to do at so many levels. At times this week it has been difficult to balance my attempt to draw and articulate the top-down ‘big picture’ stuff versus contributing to some of our individual projects. I think the top-down work will ultimately have to take priority; it will give me, and the wider team, a framework to think about everything that’s going on. It’s helpful that some of the initiatives have very hard deadlines as this will give us a skeleton to build our planning around.

It’s been a strange weekend, with my wife away on holiday and both of my sons being away from home for a night. There’s a mental pressure to make the most of the time when other people aren’t around. I like to think of myself as a person who enjoys his own company and just gets on with things, but it is a bit weird when the structure and buzz of the house disappears.

This was a week in which I:

  • Hosted the CEO of a major desktop and collaboration equipment manufacturer at our office, along with two members of his senior team. We love their products and they were interested to find out what we have been doing with them. We used the opportunity to more formally introduce our own company the services that we provide. It was great to see our Technology team move so far away from being “the people that fix the Wi-Fi”.
  • Got involved in a number of meetings for the project to renew an office lease and refresh the space in that office. We met a vendor to give feedback on what does and doesn’t work in the areas that we share with other building tenants as it is an opportunity to re-think the design.
  • Created a simple analysis of the usage data for our shared meeting rooms as input into the redesign process.
  • Met with our Company Secretary to get brought up to speed with our project to establish a new office.
  • Found myself nominated as the spokesperson for our department at the quarterly Technology ‘offsite’ meeting. I only had two evenings to prepare a script to go with the slides we had already submitted. I’m so thankful that Microsoft 365 exists; it allowed me to create an outline in a Word document, share the link with the team and then watch as everyone contributed directly into the document at the time it was convenient to them. On Tuesday night I went through and edited the whole thing before I presented on Wednesday.
  • Enjoyed the ‘offsite’ better than any that I have attended. Most of the team were together in an auditorium in Johannesburg, with a small number of us dialled into a Teams meeting. The production of the session was incredible; we had three or four camera operators in the room which gave us a real sense of being there, along with someone who could switch between showing slides and our video feeds as needed. It was probably about as good as it could have been without actually being there in the room. The content from all of the teams was also excellent.
  • Had a series of calls with an external vendor as we try and further refine the proposal for a new service.
  • Reviewed a proposal from two internal teams who are looking to collaborate on a common internal product.
  • Attended a meeting with a cross-functional working group for a product that we have prototyped and agreed how we will get it to the next stage.
  • Joined meetings to receive feedback from review by a cybersecurity vendor.
  • Gave my presentation on Large Language Models and Generative AI to another internal team, this time a group of client-facing staff based in Johannesburg.
  • Discussed how we enable the Microsoft Copilot AI tools on our desktops. Getting a licence means that Copilot shows shown up in Teams as well as the mobile iOS/iPadOS applications, but to use it on the desktop you need to be on the current or monthly update channels.
  • Finally finished and published an internal blog post calling for colleagues to put cameras on in meetings. I started the post months ago but was triggered into finishing it following a broad technology chat with our COO.
  • Had a lovely random coffee with a recent joiner in our New York office who has worked for the company for over a decade.
  • Met with a colleague’s son who is looking for guidance about what to do after he finishes his university placement year. I don’t have any answers, just a story about what I’ve done and some reassurance that it will probably work out ok.
  • Continued the meeting series between our heads of Product and Engineering.
  • Took my wife for a check-up following her cataract operation a few weeks ago. She now has “better than 20/20 vision” in that eye, a remarkable turnaround after nearly losing her sight.
  • Went along to two different online Album Club evenings that happened to get booked back to back. We heard the eponymous first album by Broken Bells as well as O by Damien Rice. I remember a copy of O floating around my flat around 2003; someone must have dropped it there in a “You have to listen to this!” moment but I never got around to playing it. Twenty years later and I’ve discovered that it’s quite lovely.
  • Felt proud of my eldest boy who has been accepted onto the England Athletics Youth Talent Programme. He, along with three other members of his running club, spent the weekend at Loughborough University for the first of their National Training Days. From their feedback it all sounds very impressive.
  • Had a no-show from a plumber that was due to come and fix a toilet that has been in need of repair for a few months. I’ve never been through such a painful process than trying to get this fixed.

Next week: Squeezing five days into four.

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