In a month of new jobs, old memories, zero fitness and plenty science fiction.
Goodbye WorldFirst, hello (again) ASOS.
This month, I was offered an opportunity back at ASOS as an Engineering Manager. A career change was not something I was actively pursuing but, following some passing comments with ex-colleagues, my intrigue got the better of me and the rest, as they say, was history.
It’s extremely exciting to be returning to the company, especially as someone solely focused on people rather than mixed with projects – a paradigm that always seemed like a conflict of interests. I’ve missed working directly with engineers during my time at WorldFirst – a consequence from the Ant Group takeover shifting the role to more of a programme manager than delivery lead. My current line manager has been extremely understanding and supportive with the decision and my new line manager back at ASOS (plus previous colleagues) have already shown reassuring confidence in my potential in the new role so it all feels like a dream come true with no bridges burned.
I’m currently working my notice (to the end of March) but making sure all the teams and projects I’ve worked with are in the best place possible – a great opportunity to flex some old coaching skills, spending quality “121” time with individuals, imparting my knowledge for driving quality delivery with an eye on customer or business needs.
Make Life Work x On The Side
The main focus for side projects this month has been the return of my Make Life Work podcast. For the fifth season (I know!), we’re trying something a little different by bringing two previous guests Sam and Mike along to introduce a panel format. It took some organising to find the right time to start but we eventually settled in to lockdown 3.0 habits to record Tuesday lunchtimes for Monday morning release (giving me enough time to produce and prepare).
So far, we’ve made 3 episodes and plan to invite along some of our On The Side acquaintances along as guests (hence the “On The Side takeover” name). We’re still finding our feet with the format and tone, trying to make it feel as natural as possible, but it’s been great fun chatting with friends more regularly, introducing banter where possible and sharing each other’s thoughts rather than being a one way interview.
The plan is to keep going until we need to take a break but, ideally, it’s not reliant on an individual to keep momentum going so the 5 episode limit could be pushed now.
Elsewhere on side projects, I’ve spent the month tracking and measuring my time with a time journal in an attempt to understand the typical balance between work, life and sides which can consequently form a capacity plan for others. I’m now introducing some user testers to the toolkit (all in Google Sheets for faster “no code” improvements) which can then possibly be rolled out to others. I’ll be blogging about this properly when I’m ready but it’s all part of my plan for a “Make Life Work toolkit” I’d like to produce and release later this year.
I’ve also spent some time tidying up some other sides this month:
- Teach Mugs is now on Etsy following 4 months of little sales on Shopify so this is an attempt to reduce costs
- House Finesse now has a larger range of merchandise available on the store (supplied by Printful drop-shipping)
- We had our first proper Multipack Remote event at the start of the month, more of a social event with some topics discussed. The next one (this Thursday) introduces some lightning talks from Gaz and Matt which should add a little more structure and conversation starters.
- On The Side reached the milestone of 100 members this month too. As significant as this might seem, I’m keen to keep size quite humble and improve engagement so have been experimenting with different apps and conversation starters to encourage existing members to be more vocal.
As lockdown 3.0 comes to a close with a so-called roadmap for 2021, the family have been preparing (mentally and logistically) to return to some normality. It’s going to be strange having the house empty again from next week but I’m mindful of the kids education suffering through all the home efforts. Living in a house where 3 schools come together is not ideal neither but at least my contact with the public is still limited and our live-in grandparents have initial vaccinations sorted.
We’ve also used the opportunity to (finally) sort out our loft space. Floor boards are now properly fitted so storage space has been maximised. We’ve discovered some lovely memories in the process, flicking through old photos (remember printed snaps?), clearing through childhood / student / wedding / first-born keepsakes.
I’ve also improved my home working setup, now with a Samsung 28” 4K monitor and HD webcam for all those video calls. The camera can be slightly temperamental (possibly through the USB-C hub) but it’s definitely better having such a large screen to multi-task on with some clearer video for colleagues to witness. I also realised the Samsung monitor needed a dedicated USB-C to HDMI cable for the 60hz refresh rate to work properly.
After finding old DVD’s of wedding footage, I also ordered an external DVD drive so my 2020 MBP was capable of viewing it. I do miss optical drives sometimes.
10x10km to #EndoTheStigma
Following January’s 75km challenge for Maggie’s Centres, I ended up taking the best part of February off from any exercise. I only planned to take a week or so but lack of motivation got the better of me.
That said, I’ve been planning to do something for Endometriosis Awareness Month (March) following my wife’s surgery and treatment at the end of last year. It’s likely to be another running challenge so, in the theme of Endometriosis UK’s #1in10 hashtag, I’m looking to take on 10x10km runs. I’ve only ever achieved one 10km in my life so completing TEN of them in a month would be quite an achievement and would smash my previous efforts. It seems reachable but will definitely not be easy and I hope to raise more cash and awareness for another unsung charity that needs more attention than more popular ones, especially as one dear to my family.
This month has mostly been spent reading more sci-fi and crime thrillers – I’ve definitely caught the bug.
- The Girl Beneath The Sea by Andrew Mayne
- Summer Frost by Blake Crouch
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Artemis by Andy Weir
In TV world, we’ve been delving into the All4 archives (using the ad-free All4+ subscription) to watch the likes of Skins, The Great and Catastrophe. The family have enjoyed WandaVision on Disney+ and Good Omens on Prime so all the TV subscriptions are getting a good hammering.
Saturday movie night has been all about the disaster movies including The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 plus we giggled through Gremlins and Attack The Block for some “light hearted” monster entertainment.