Project Slippers Volume 2.0
When the UK Government announced that England would once again be entering a lockdown phase, I decided to resurrect Project Slippers. It certainly felt like a different lockdown to the first one. A big difference was the weather of course. During the first lockdown, it was possible to spend time in the garden and it was nice to enjoy long walks and bike rides, but a British winter brings the cold, wet weather, which is no fun at all!
Thankfully, lockdown 2.0 has ended as per the intended schedule, but the big question is whether the New Year will bring lockdown 3.0…
Let’s hope that this is the last Project Slippers instalment. Fingers crossed, 2021 will be far better than 2020 proved to be!
Stay safe and well everyone!
Volume 2, Week 1 - Week Ending 06/11/2020 - "Return of the Slippers!"
Project Slippers is back!
I really hoped I wouldn't have to resurrect Project Slippers ever again. I naively hoped that "they" (whoever "they" are!) would've been able to find the solutions to allow us to spend the second half of 2020 and beyond, living a normal life, but sadly that hasn't been the case.
On Saturday 31st October, Boris Johnson announced that England would again be heading into lockdown later in the week. The news was leaked (they really need to get that leak fixed!), so I spent my Saturday evening in the supermarket doing a slightly-larger-than-usual weekly shop before the madness started again…
And low and behold, in some supermarkets, the madness started. People queuing around the car park, no toilet rolls on the shelves, and don't even think about being able to find pasta of any kind! Surely some of these people still have stock from last time!
So, how have I spent week 1? Lockdown didn't start until Thursday, so the first (and arguably, most important!) job was to jiggle my diary to rebook my hair and eyebrow appointment! There was no way I was going to turn to the gentleman's beard dye that I had to use to do my roots doing the last lockdown! (For anyone who didn’t see that Project Slippers instalment, yes, I really did dye my hair with gentleman's beard dye; and it worked!)
Other than that, it's been largely business as usual. I've been happily working from home on my latest project for the last month or so, so that will continue unchanged. The only difference will be the social elements of life that we've been able to enjoy recently; seeing family and friends (at a social distance), enjoying a meal out in a restaurant (with all the safety measures in place) and being able to visit 'non-essential' shops (abiding by the one-way systems!)
To be fair, as I write this, it's only been a day and a bit of actual lockdown 2.0, so we'll see how it progresses over the coming weeks.
The question is, how many instalments will there be of Project Slippers Volume 2, and what kind of journey will it be…..?
Volume 2, Week 2 - Week Ending 13/11/2020 - "Project Hard Hat!"
This week I have been a Project Manager….
Nothing strange there you might say; after all project management is one of the many strings to my bow, and I have lots of experience managing complex and industry first projects across multiple sectors. I even have lots of examples of lovely comments from people I have been fortunate enough to work with. Here's a link to some of them if you'd like to take a look whilst you’re here... https://www.akeno.co.uk/testimonials
"So, what's so different about the project management this week", I hear you ask?
The project I have been managing this week is some building work at a property I rent out. The deadline is fixed (the new tenants are moving in next week), the budget is definitely fixed (I negotiated a very firm 'all inclusive' price), and the scope is also carefully defined (I stopped short of actually producing a business requirements document and complete project plan, but I did ensure all expectations were carefully and clearly agreed!).
All of this, is of course, in addition to my client work, so thankfully I'm not needed 'on site' to manage the project (although I was there at the weekend to ensure a positive start all round!). My husband is doing a grand job of working with, and supporting, the builders (at a social distance of course!), reporting progress back to me, and requesting key decisions in a timely fashion to ensure milestones are hit. I bet he loves being married to a Project Manager….not!
So, with just a few days left, how is it going? The building team have been great, and are working really hard, but the latest lockdown has impacted some items on the critical path, and the supply of some materials have been delayed.
And what do we do when there's a delay on a project?
We communicate to the stakeholders honestly, factually and clearly; in a timely fashion. Even the best projects with the most robust planning can experience delays. We can plan and mitigate for risks, but sometimes, delays happen and they need to be dealt with. The trick is how to manage them. In this example, the builders communicated to me promptly, and in turn, we identified a solution that would work in terms of the tenant still being able to move in on time, whilst minimising the disruption of the remaining work. The plan needed to be rejigged, but ultimately, we'll get there.
And yes, after a weekend of manual labour on a mini building site, I did enjoy coming back to the comfort of my office (and my slippers!) to continue my work with my client!
Volume 2, Week 3 - Week Ending 20/11/2020 - "Fitness Fails"
If you followed volume 1 of Project Slippers, you may remember my purchase of an activity tracker to encourage me to spend more time on my feet and less time sat down in my office.
I thought I’d give you an update on how it’s been going….
Has the tracker been relegated to its box?
Do I even still own it?
Or is it still a firm fixture in my health regime?
I’m glad to report it’s the latter, although ‘health regime’ is perhaps taking it a bit far!
Seriously though, it has been a really important part of my day since I bought it. It gives me a good indication of how sedentary my day has been. If it gets to lunchtime and my step count is low, I try to go out and get some fresh air and a walk around the village where I live, and if it gets to later in the day, when it’s already dark, I find myself doing some steps on the spot whilst watching some evening TV. I’ve even been known to multi-task and tap away doing emails on my phone whilst stepping on the spot! Even waiting for the dinner to cook is a good opportunity to ‘step-up’ my steps for the day.
However, it seems I may have over-done the stepping as I’ve recently experienced some pain in my foot. After a visit to a specialist, I’ve been given an MRI led steroid injection this week. One word. Ouch! It seems that stepping on the spot on a solid floor whilst bare foot is not the way to get healthy. The exact opposite in fact!
I’ve now been ordered to ease the stepping to allow the injection to take effect, then I can get back to monitoring my steps again….whilst wearing appropriate footwear! I’ve even treated myself to some memory foam slippers!
Although the pain in my foot is no fun, I do feel better mentally for taking a break away from my desk regularly, so I will continue to practice what I have preached during these Project Slippers instalments, and hopefully my foot will be better soon so I can get back to my lunchtime walks.
Perhaps I should change the name of the blog to Project Memory-Foam-Slippers!
Volume 2, Week 4 - Week Ending 27/11/2020 - "The Magic of Medicine"
I was sure that my update this week would start with a grumble about the ongoing pain in my foot, but how wrong am I?! OK, I’m not quite up to marathon running levels of fitness, but then again, I wasn’t at that level before last week’s procedure! I am though, by some miracle, pretty much pain-free!
And that ladies and gentleman, is the magic of medicine!
I’m lucky enough to usually be fit and healthy, so on the rare occasions I do need any medical attention, I find myself in awe at the magic that Doctors and Nurses perform. 2020 has definitely reminded us to be thankful for the NHS and the access we have to wonderful medical personnel here in the UK.
Experiencing this recent medical procedure got me thinking about jobs and careers. I’m not sure why, but I never considered a career in medicine. When I was at school, I always wanted to be a Lawyer or a Barrister. Somehow I ended up going into finance….
My 20 year (ish!) working career has been full of twists and turns; some good, some not-so-good, but I have always been mindful of learning along the way. I have never regretted any career decision I have made, and in fact, I have developed considerably as a result.
The question is, what development is next? Will it be a twist or a turn I wonder?
Every new adventure starts with the first step, and let’s just say I’ve taken mine. In fact, I’ve taken quite a few steps over the last 12 months, and it’s nearly time to tell you more…
Volume 2, Week 5 - Week Ending 06/12/2020 - "The End-ish…"
And that’s another wrap….ish…!
We have successfully got to the end of lockdown 2.0, but it’s not quite the hard stop we’d all like. In project terms, it feels like we’ve entered a long stage of stabilisation rather than post go live embedding. This stabilisation phase now includes an enhanced tier system, with each tier having its own rules and limitations.
I live in an area that has been identified as Tier 2. The good news is, businesses can reopen, such as gyms, hairdressers, pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops (albeit with restrictions), but the bad news is, we still can’t mix with friends and family outside of our household or support bubble, unless we are outdoors. However, outdoors in December in the UK is not a fun (or very warm and dry!) place to be! It may reduce the risk of COVID, but it certainly increases the risk of a seasonal cold or flu!
This week I have been stepping up my steps again in preparation for my follow up appointment with my Specialist next week. He is keen to know whether the steroid injection has worked, so I’m under orders to step-up-the-steps to see how the pain is. So far, so good!
However, I have been joined on my walks this week by a new friend…of the un-humankind…
Starship Deliveries (https://www.starship.xyz ) have launched their robot delivery service in my area, and it has caused quite a buzz! I first experienced these robots whilst visiting a colleague in Milton Keynes before lockdown 1.0, but this week, I was able to order some groceries from my local store myself. 105 minutes later (don’t judge the robot, the store was very busy with orders!), the app notified me of the robot’s arrival, and I was able to retrieve my goods. Yes, it was a novelty, and no, I didn’t really need the cookie dough ice cream I ordered, but it was a brilliant experience nonetheless!
And now when I’m out for my walk, I’m often joined by a robot trundling along, delivering groceries. It’s been a great success for this growing business, and I wish them every success as they roll it out to a wider geographical area and hopefully to other businesses. They even have headlights for deliveries after dark!
At least if lockdown 3.0 comes I’ll be able to order groceries to be delivered to me by a friendly robot (yes, they do talk to you!), rather than standing in the cold queuing to get into the store!
For now, I’ll bid you farewell….As much as I’ve enjoyed writing these updates, I do look forward to a time when Project Slippers is a distant memory, and normal life - albeit with robots - has resumed….
Stay safe, stay well, stay positive!