Open Thinkering


Weeknote 47/2023

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It’s rare that I forget to write a weeknote; rarer still that I realise I haven’t written one, and then don’t bother even writing a few sentences. But that’s what happened last week.

After driving most of the journey to and from Manchester, predominantly in the pouring rain, last Sunday for the women’s derby game, I was knackered. And then on Monday I was straight into WAO work, and then MSc stuff. The latter has taken a lot of my time this week, I guess because I’m being extremely conscientious about my studies. To be honest, this is because I’m finding learning about Systems Thinking fascinating. You can tell because, at the time of writing, I’ve published 23 posts on the topic this month!

I’m ready for a break. I’ve always found October and November difficult, as the light wanes, the temperatures decrease, and people retreat into their houses. It’s become slightly easier as I’ve gained more control over my working patterns, but this time of year still batters me. Despite my best efforts, I get more migraines, find it more difficult to find the motivation to exercise daily, and am generally grumpier.

This year was particularly difficult as we moved house during half-term. Everyone was already tired going into that week, and the move, which we did ourselves by renting a van, took almost the full week, all told. When I write it down like that, it sounds ridiculous, as we were only moving around the corner. But… it did. We’re aiming to move again in early 2024 once we find a house to buy which meets our requirements. We’ll be getting people in to help, that’s for sure.

What the experience of moving has meant, though, is that we didn’t go on holiday — or even have a chance to recharge our batteries — over the half-term period. In fact, the experience had the opposite effect, and thanks to some amazing planning on my part, coincided with starting my MSc. Had I not enjoyed my studying so much, I would have already given up, as we’ve kicked off a couple of new projects at work as well.

So Hannah and I are going away tonight, just for one night, for dinner and to stay in a hotel in Newcastle, while the kids go to my parents’ house. We all need a proper holiday, but as I pointed out to them, their mother and I both work from home; even going to school is a change of scenery and vibe for the kids. That being said, ideally we’d go away on a sunny family holiday after Christmas. The place I’d like to take everyone, Yas Island in Abu Dhabi (which I’ve been to before with my dad and sister) is eye-wateringly expensive during the school holidays.

One small mercy is that I’ve only got a small bit of work left to do on Part 1 of my MSc module next week before handing in my assessment, and then heading to Vienna for ePIC 2023 the following week. We’ll then be into December, when it’s legitimate to get out the Christmas decorations and start eating mince pies. I almost need to go on a pre-emptive diet for the latter, as I am rather partial to them.

After ePIC, I’ll only have a week left at work for the year before taking three weeks off. I’m pretty sure my fellow WAO members and collaborators are doing likewise, so I’ll be able to turn my out of office on, guilt-free. That week before Christmas, I’ve got some walking booked in with Aaron and then Bryan, as well as dinner with my sister and her kids. Then, of course, it’s my birthday and into the big day itself.

So, as you can see, I’ve got it all planned out in my mind. What I’d really like to do is to find somewhere warm to go for five days or a week before the kids return to school on January 8th. Given that Newcastle airport is no longer an Easyjet hub (thanks, pandemic!), my aversion to flying Ryanair, and the cost of Emirates flights, that might prove difficult.

Being so busy with MSc stuff meant that I didn’t publish anything at Thought Shrapnel this past week. That’s a bit awkward, given that this morning’s newsletter was supposed to be the last one of the year. So, instead, I sent out some recommendations of other newsletters to follow. You can read it here.

I keep thinking that I should write Thought Shrapnel in ‘seasons’ as Dan Hon and some other people do. I’m not sure if that would work, though. The practice of publishing three posts a day based on the things I’m reading depends very much on me (a) reading three or more things outside of regular work stuff, and (b) prioritising writing about them over and above the other things I’ve got to do in my life.

What I find with Thought Shrapnel is that it’s all down to momentum. That is to say, it can be hard to get into a routine of publishing posts and the newsletter, but once I’m in that routine, it’s easier. But then, for whatever reason, if I fall out of it at the start of a week, it’s really hard to pick it back up again.

Well, this weeknote turned into even more of a stream-of-consciousness than usual. Now that it’s light, I’d better get out for a run and on with my day. Thanks for reading this far 👋

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