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Project Slippers Volume 3.0 Part A

Sadly, 2021 has delivered us a new lockdown phase due to increased cases and deaths, which means the resurrection of Project Slippers…..again!

Unlike lockdown 2.0, this one comes with no end date, so we’re at the mercy of the ability of people to adhere to the rules in the hope it has the right effect on the cases and deaths. We’ve been told by the Government, that until significant improvements are seen, the lockdown will continue, so we could be here for some time!

It’s been 5 weeks already, so I thought I’d deliver you ‘Part A’, and let’s hope I don’t run out of letters in the alphabet!

This lockdown is definitely the most difficult yet, so let’s see what the weeks (months?!) hold for me and Team Akeno.

Stay safe, stay well, and please keep to the rules 

 

Volume 3, Week 1 - Week Ending 02/01/2021 - "Back From Outer Space!!"

Remember the line in Gloria Gaynor's song 'I Will Survive':

"And so you’re back, from outer space"

When I heard the song this week, it triggered the thought that I wish I was IN outer space right now; it might feel a bit safer being stuck in a sterile capsule 250 miles above the Earth!

The reason, is of course, the latest national lockdown…

Which means the return of Project Slippers!

Since the last lockdown, life hasn’t exactly been normal. A tier system was implemented across the UK, with an aim of only locking down the areas with the greatest numbers of COVID cases and deaths. For many who were put into the highest tier, tier 4, Christmas was all but cancelled. The 5 days of freedom the Government promised, which would allow mixed households over the Christmas period, was cancelled, and greater restrictions were put in place for lower tiers.

I live in Northampton, which was one of very few tier 2 areas in the UK. This allowed non essential shops to stay open, and even enabled people from the same household to enjoy a meal in a pub or restaurant. Life was normal enough, but….

Without anything to stop people, Northamptonshire was flooded with visitors from neighbouring counties in higher tiers, so guess what….our COVID cases started to rise, as did the other lower tier areas, and by Boxing Day we were put into tier 3, quickly followed by tier 4 before New Year's Eve.

So, to all intents and purposes, we've been in a form of lockdown since the start of the year. For me, the national lockdown won't feel any different to tier 3 or 4 because I don't have children and I've been working at home since lockdown 1.0 in March 2020. I've also continued to limit my contact with other people, even when the restrictions allowed. The greatest impact of the national lockdown is the closure of schools and the need for parents to juggle working and educating their children.

I won't launch into tips on how to juggle home education and work, and I won't even offer suggestions on how to cope with lockdown 3.0 because the impact on us all is different. The best explanation I have seen is:

"We may be in the same storm together, but we're all in different boats."

None of us have experienced anything close to the COVID pandemic, so none of us know how lockdown 3.0 will impact us.

On a personal level, I am 'bedding down' in terms of getting even more comfortable in my home office. I thought 2021 may bring the opportunity to work onsite with clients again, but that's looking less and less likely. So, I've ordered some new art work for my office walls and have spring cleaned everywhere so it's as fresh, clean and tidy as it can be.

So, in the absence of getting a spot on the next space shuttle, I'll be here in lockdown 3.0, providing a weekly Project Slippers update until we come through the other side. And although nothing about this situation is funny, these memes about Boris Johnson did make me smile…

Stay safe everyone….

Meme: Boris Johnson copies Nicola Sturgeon's homework

 

Boris Johnson in 2035 "a few more months and we've got this beat"

 

Volume 3, Week 2 - Week Ending 15/01/2021 - "In The Queue…"

This week started with hopeful news about the opening of vaccination hubs to speed up the rollout programme. From a project perspective, let's hope they've planned accurately, considered all risks, documented mitigations, and fully briefed all stakeholders to ensure a successful outcome…

Sadly, other COVID-related projects haven’t been as successful as they could've been, if you believe what you hear and read anyway. The 'Track and Trace' IT system and associated processes are said to be fraught with issues, which some experts say hasn't helped the spread of the virus. The system is intended to alert people if they have been in close proximity to anyone with the virus, but there have been many situations where accuracy and effectiveness have been an issue.

I know there's been a lot of discussion about the vaccination and the speed at which it was developed and therefore, the safety of it, but from my perspective, I'm keen to have it, and hopeful that it will enable some form of normality to return to daily life.

Vaccination needle

So, this week, I was excited when I heard about a "vaccination calculator". You enter your date of birth and some basic health and lifestyle information (are you pregnant, are you a Health Worker, are you an Unpaid Carer, do you have any underlying health conditions etc), and along with some assumptions about the vaccination rate (1,000,000 a week; let's hope that programme stays on track and in a 'green' status!), it gives you an approximate timeframe for receiving the vaccination, along with an indication of how many people there are in the queue in front of you….

It's very high level, and very, very indicative, but in the absence of anything else, it at least gives me an idea of where I am in the queue.

The result?

There are between 30 and 38 million people ahead of me in in the queue. Assuming I get the 2 dose vaccine, it means I should get the first one by October 2021 and the second dose by December 2021!

A queue

I'm grateful that I live in the country where I have access to the vaccine, of course, but it's disappointing to hear the timeframe and the number of people ahead of me in the queue.

However, they say British people are good at queuing (and I'm even more used to it now we have to queue to get into the supermarket!), so I will wait patiently for my turn, and hope the Programme Managers responsible for the rollout are able to achieve what they have promised…

Volume 3, Week 3 - Week Ending 22/01/2021 - "Life Is A Rollercoaster"

Monday of this week, (18th January), was said to be "blue Monday". This gloomy title is awarded due to the combination of post-Christmas blues, cold dark nights, pay day feeling a long way away, and this year, we have the addition of being in lockdown! Blimey, no wonder it was blue Monday!

It's very timely therefore, that I have purchased a SAD lamp - as in a Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp, as opposed to a sorrowful light!

SAD lamps simulate sunlight and are said to trigger the brain to release serotonin, which is often called the feel-good hormone. In all honesty, my expectations are fairly low, and I don't expect it to make me feel as energised as 2 weeks on a tropical beach would, but I am using it with an open mind!

This week, I heard a great description of the ups and downs we're all experiencing at the moment; Corona Coaster. One day we're baking banana bread, Spring cleaning the house and feeling upbeat about the vaccination programme, and the next day, we can't get out of bed, the news scares us to the point of panic, and we have wine for breakfast!

Does anyone resonate?

Rollercoaster

I've certainly heard more stress in friends and colleagues' voices during this lockdown, and I am also starting to feel like cabin fever is setting in sometimes. That's why it's important to keep talking, keep checking in on each other, and if anyone needs me, I'll be sat in front of my SAD lamp with a glass of wine thinking about a tropical beach!

Volume 3, Week 4 - Week Ending 29/01/2021 - "I Can (Still!) See Clearly Now…"

This week has been very exciting as I've had a trip out of the house….

Before anyone calls the COVID police, I haven't been anywhere exciting, the trip was just to a 2-hour assessment with an eye surgeon. Thankfully, it was just a routine assessment, and better still, the outcome was very positive.

14 years ago, I had laser eye surgery. I'm very conscious that I've spent an extraordinary amount of time staring at screens in the last 10 months, and wanted to check the overall health of my eyes. Rather than just a standard sight test which I have annually, I was invited to have the extended appointment with a surgeon to do a more comprehensive check as it's been so long since I had the surgery.

Eye

I was pleased to hear that I still have better than 20/20 vision (20/20 vision being the measure of "perfect vision"). Does that make me "better than perfect"?! Well, my eyes anyway! This was a wonderful outcome, but I was told off about my extended screen use and lack of breaks.

I was given some advice, which I thought I’d share with you. It's called the 20-20-20 rule.

Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds.

I was also advised to have a digital detox in the evenings, so I'm setting myself a deadline of 7.30pm (ish!) when I will put down the iPad and the phone, and will let my eyes have a rest.

It's early days, but I certainly feel better already. I'll keep you posted!

And talking of day trips, my two brothers also had a trip away from home and work this week, but theirs was much more exciting; they had their first COVID vaccination (and to all those anti-vaxxers, no, they haven't grown an extra limb, and Bill Gates hasn't turned up unannounced, now that he's controlling them with a microchip!)

The reason they received their vaccinations is that they are Key Workers. They work for a funeral home, so collect the deceased, when they have died at home or in a care home environment. As you can imagine, they have sadly been very busy throughout the pandemic and are constantly putting themselves and their families at risk of contracting COVID. It's only right and fair that they have received the first dose of their vaccine, and I know our parents, in particular, are certainly thankful that they have a little more protection (as am I). I'm incredibly proud of them both. It certainly puts a lot into perspective when you hear of people like this who spend day in and day out at the saddest part of the front line.

Well done Kevin James and Kieran Durnan, you make your big sis very proud!

Family picture

Volume 3, Week 5 - Week Ending 05/02/2021 - "New Project Resource”

This week I’ve got a new, and very important, resource on my project; new slippers!

We’ve now entered the 11th month of the pandemic, which means 11 months of working at home, and 11 months of wearing (mostly) slippers, (except for a brief transfer to flip flops over the summer). This week, it was therefore time to invest in some new ones.

But these aren’t just any slippers, they’re Podiatrist approved slippers!

The foot issues I reported in a previous volume, are still causing me pain, so I was keen to get my new purchase approved by my Specialist and Podiatrist during my checkup this week. The good news is, my chosen slippers were approved, and better still, they’re also pretty! Well, I think so anyway! What do you think?!

Slippers

On the work front, it’s been another busy, but very fulfilling week. As well as the usual project work, and supporting my Akeno Adventure clients, I was also asked to speak at a Gated Talent event. Gated Talent are a fantastic organisation that connects Executives with Head Hunters. They work internationally, and provide resources to people who wish to transform their careers. This week, I was one of those resources. I gave a talk and presentation on the subject of career and sector transition. I talked about the positive shifts you can make to maximise the success of a career transition and transformation. It was well received, and I’ve made some wonderful new contacts as a result.

Back to the footwear situation though, I do wonder what I’ll be wearing when I do finally visit a client site again. Will my foot issues be resolved by then, or will I have to pack a pair of slippers in my laptop bag?! 

Stay safe, stay well, and keep wearing those slippers!