This content is 3 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.
This week (last week)’s weeknote is a few days late, so here’s what I learned in week 15 of 2021:
It’s hard coming back to work after taking a complete break for 10 days.
Autonomy over your calendar is a really important part of wellbeing.
Email, Teams and other “productivity” tools are real “time hoovers” and reactive working is highly stressful. I’m increasing of the view that such tools hinder productivity in favour of reactiveness. It seems that I’m not alone.
The Microsoft Dynamics 365 HR app for Teams is a much better way to access holiday request info than natively in Dynamics. I did laugh at the message that “Human Resources sent a card” though:
Not to rely on the NHS COVID Vaccination site to send notifications of bookings, even when given a phone number and email address. I had to ring 119 and navigate minutes of menus before a very helpful human gave me my reference numbers to make changes. It took around 48 hours for the text message/email to arrive, quickly followed by updated ones for new appointments. I suspect there may be some CSV files and batch jobs in the background… especially as a friend who had a recent birthday was “not 45 enough” to book her vaccination.
Emailing and asking for someone to do something by Close of Business that day, then emailing at 15:45 and asking them to do it by 16:30 is probably using the wrong channels and setting the wrong expectations…
Don’t underestimate the value of your network for presenting new opportunities.
Three pints of IPA may be a good way to avoid side effects of the Oxford-Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine (based on my not at all scientific sample size of one)!
This content is 6 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.
Milton Keynes – Rochdale – London – Leicester. Not quite New York – London – Paris but those are the towns and cities on my itinerary this week.
Every now and again, I find myself counting down the days to the weekend. This week has been different. It was manic, squeezing work in around lots of other activities but it was mostly enjoyable too.
The week at work
My work week started off with an opportunity to input to a report that I find quite exciting. I can’t say too much at the moment (though it should be released within the next couple of weeks and I’ll be shouting about it then) but it’s one of those activities that makes me think “I’d like to do more of this” (I already get referred to as the extra member of the risual marketing team, which I think they mean as a good thing!).
Bills have to be paid though (i.e. I need to keep my utilisation up!), so I’ve also had some consulting in the mix, writing a strategy for a customer who needs to modernise their datacentre.
Then, back to work on Thursday, squeezing in a full day’s work before heading to the National Space Centre in Leicester in the afternoon for the UK MVP Community Connection. I’m not an MVP anymore (I haven’t been since 2011) but I am a member of the MVP Reconnect Programme, which means I still get invited to some of the events – and the two I’ve been to so far have been really worthwhile. One of my favourite sessions at the last event was Tony Wells from Resource IT (the guys who create the Microsoft Abbreviation Dictionary) talking about storytelling. This time we had a 3-hour workshop with an opportunity to put some of the techniques into practice.
The evening started with drinks in the space tower, then an IMAX film before dinner (and a quiz) in the Space Centre, surrounded by the exhibits. We returned the next day for a Microsoft business update, talks on ethics and diversity, on extending our audience reach and on mixed reality.
Unfortunately, my Friday afternoon was hijacked by other work… and the work week also spilt over into the weekend – something I generally try to avoid and which took the shine off things somewhat…
I’ve had a full-on week with family too: my eldest son is one of six from Milton Keynes who have been selected to attend the Kandersteg International Scout Centre (KISC) in 2019 and, together with ten more who are off to the World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, we have a lot of fund-raising to do (about £45,000 in total). That meant selling raffle tickets in the shopping centre for the opportunity to win a car on Monday evening, and a meeting on Tuesday evening to talk about fundraising ideas…
Meeting parents and young people to kick off our fundraising plans to send 10 young people from @MKscouting to World Scout Jamboree and 6 to the Kandersteg International Scout Centre in 2019. We need to raise about £45,000 so if anyone has ideas, I’d love to hear them!
So, that’s out every evening, and a long day every day this week… by Friday I was ready to collapse in a heap.
No cyclocross this weekend (well, there was, but it clashed with football), so I was on a different sort of Dad duty, running the line and trying not to anger parents from the other team with my ropey knowledge of the offside rule…
It’s also December now, so my family have declared that Christmas celebrations can begin. Right from the moment I returned home on Friday evening I was accused of not being Christmassy enough and I was forced to listen to “Christmas Music” on the drive to my son’s football match (the compromise was that it could be my Christmas playlist).
Even I was amused to be followed in my car by a certain jolly chap:
Look who followed me in my car today! It seems Father Christmas has traded his sleigh for a convertible Morris Minor? pic.twitter.com/2c74NeZCNH
My part in decorating the house consists of getting everything down from the loft, putting up the tree and lights, and then finding myself somewhere to hide for a couple of hours until it all looks lovely and sparkly. Unfortunately, the hiding time was actually spent polishing a presentation for Monday and fighting with Concur to complete my expenses… not exactly what I had in mind…
I forgot to add this tale to last week’s week note but I was travelling back home from Stafford recently when I noticed a re-branded Virgin Pendolino at the platform. My train wasn’t due for another 10 minutes so I didn’t check out where this one was going, so I was a little surprised to pass it again as I arrived in Milton Keynes two hours later, after I’d gone the long way (via Birmingham) and changed trains…
Credit is due to the social media team handling the @PremierInn account for Whitbread, they quickly confirmed that it is a J not an I (though I had worked it out).
@HolidayInn were equally on the ball when I complained about a lack of power sockets (and traffic noise insulation) at their Leicester City Centre hotel. Thankfully they replies were limited to Twitter and email – not midnight calls as my colleague Gavin Morrisson found when he tweeted about another Holiday Inn!
Last time I complained on Twitter about sockets at a HI, they tracked me down and the hotel manager called my room at midnight asking what the problem was. I was not amused.