Following a year of WeekNotes, I’ve decided to try a new “monthly digest” format this year. I’ll cover the same topics as before (work, life & health, side projects & entertainment) but this will hopefully lend towards more substantial content, allowing for quieter weeks but still maintain a relatively manageable frequency. Let’s see how things go…


Returning to work after the festive break was tough, really tough. I’m responsible for ensuring technical delivery of two high profile and business critical projects so, like the start of many projects, pressure was on to get team members aligned and focused. I can’t talk about the details but it’s definitely been rewarding to finally get both projects in a better shape over the past 4 weeks.

I’ve also had to compromise on some of my preferred ways of working. Shared demos have had to take a rain check to get delivery over the line and disrupting sprint commitments so frequently has certainly hampered some teams productivity, efficiency and morale.

The delivery team also lost another member this month so trying to lead 12 teams between two of us has been quite tricky. Attempts to get Tech Leads and Product Managers to take on more responsibilities falls on mixed reactions. The majority are quite supportive but typical resistance to change certainly introduces extra people skills demanding unavailable time.

It has been quite enlightening going through the recruitment process for some fellow delivery leads too. As we try to align with our APAC colleague ways of working, we’re realising more of our time is spent as programme managers than scrum master / delivery leads. That said, the market clearly has two different disciplines out there – you’re either one or the other rather than a hybrid.


Biggest achievement this month was completing a 75km running goal, in aid of Maggie’s Centres – a cancer aftercare charity. It was tough at times, especially with the weather bringing snowstorms and icy conditions towards the final weeks, but I managed to will myself on by pledging to donate £1 for every kilometre I completed (reverse psychology perhaps).

Elsewhere, our Hyundai took a turn for the worse which looks to be a costly repair job. After 6 years of service plus a number of drives across Europe, we’re tempted to cut our losses, sell it for parts and wait for lockdown to ease before spending unnecessary money on a second vehicle.

I’ve been chipping away at little bits of DIY around the house, nearly finished the new home office with some laminate floor beading, cable management and replacing electrical sockets. Just some window shutters and curtains to complete the renovation then random paintings from eBay to add to our “gallery” style for Zoom call attendees to observe.

Homeschooling has been trickier this time round but, thankfully, Mrs J started the year on planned sick leave so managed to get the little one in a better habit with some full time attention. My only contribution is fighting Teams to download and print out worksheets every night – something that seems unnecessarily complicated and demonstrates how Teams has evolved in purpose from its initial intention.

Mrs J has also been adjusting our diet this year to reduce cholesterol and fats. She’s being really strict with Slimming World whilst I “accompany” the main food with my own snacks. I’m not personally bothered about weight management but I’m all for maintaining my current weight along with improving my general fitness (that 75km goal needs increasing later this year).


Plans to recommence Make Life Work as a new On The Side takeover has been stalled whilst I adjust to the new lockdown demands. Lunch breaks have been necessary for my own well-being plus any time on side projects are put on hold when I’m trying to find more time with the family. That said, we are looking to start recording this coming week as I join previous guests Mike Street and Sam Hardacre on a panel discussion. It should be fun!

Multipack has also got some much needed love from the gang. Paul redesigned the website with a lick of paint and pulled out an archive of events to keep as a memory. We’ve also arranged another remote meet-up for this coming Thursday so it’ll be great to catch up with everyone on how they’re coping through the current lockdown.

We recruited two new members to the @DerbyCounty Twitter community; Janice and Shaun have joined the roster for match day commentary. It’ll be great to get a new tone to the tweets and share the demand with the existing group.

I’m also planning to sell the accompanying website again. The change in ownership and management at the football club feels like a good time to get traffic back on the website but I’m mindful of my own capacity and would rather pass the reigns over to someone with more knowledge and time.

I’ve also added another hoodie to the House Finesse shop with a cheeky play on a well known phrase more suited to lockdown life: House Music All Day Long is available in a range of colours and sizes and typically arrive in about 1 week from the Printful drop-shipping arrangement.

Last week, I realised the 6 Nations tournament was fast approaching so decided to update my 6 Nations sports calendar with the fixtures and a few bug fixes too. After a year or so not touching code, it was quite remarkable how quickly I found my way around – especially with the codebase being 13 years old.

Off the back of this, I started to reconsider an original plan to make an app for anyone to make and share sports calendars. I even toyed around with Budibase to see how feasible it would be to build a “no code” app so I can focus on the functionality but I’m not sure it it’ll create more problems when I’ve got a more than adequate set of contacts to help out.

Finally, I’m considering creating a book and toolkit about balancing time between life, work and side projects (on the Make Life Work brand obvs). To compliment the toolkit, I’ve created a Google Sheet time journal to get a better idea of where my time is spent then use this to plan forward. When I’ve got a few weeks data compiled and analysed, I’ll then look at how it can be distributed for other people to try.


Books 📚

TV 📺

  • The Serpent – fascinating dramatisation of the 70s hippie murderer around Asia
  • Staged S2 – these boys can do no wrong with another brilliant (meta) production living as an actor through lockdown
  • It’s A Sin – it lived up to all the hype with some fabulous acting and deep insights to how people coped through another scary epidemic
  • My Mad Fat Diary – our second viewing of this brilliant “coming of age” boxset from our teenage era, pure indulgence with fond memories of the time.

Movies 🎥

  • Wonder Woman 1984 – disappointing action after all the hype
  • Tag – cheesy viewing but actually quite engaging, bringing out the inner child in all of us
  • Independence Day – movie & pizza night with the kids and one of my all time favourites
  • Deadpool 2 – Can Ryan Reynolds be anymore slick? Stupid, gory, ridiculous but it just works. I’m looking forward to the third.