The Coffee With The 300% Project And The Update

So, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? That means that if we were having a coffee, I guess I’d need to bring you up to speed.

I decided it was time to take a backwards step from this sort of online medium because I didn’t have time with the pressure of work, which was something I was having difficulty taking my mind off and putting in to something else.

I wasn’t the only person having difficulty with the workload we were being given.  Two of us had a meeting with our line manager, and she asked why we struggled when she is gave us each other projects.  It’s a staggeringly difficult to answer to give in a way that doesn’t sound sarcastic.  When you have one project that takes up maybe 130% of your time, and then you’re given another to do at the same time that could have 3 people on it but it’s just you, the sums don’t work.

That 300% project is unprecedented for us too.  We, as a company, have never done it before.  That meant the there was no chance of doing the projects sequentially, and missing targets was beginning to make thinks spiral and escalate and all those other words that suggest that things aren’t going well.

As I type, the 130% project is complete barring a few odds and ends.  I’ve pretty much got the 300% project under control, or at least down to somewhere near manageable.

There was a lesson to learn from that 300% project, and the lesson was in the planning.  Or maybe more to the point, the lesson was in finding time to make the plan and therefore set expectations.  That’s because it was only really a 300% project at the start.  I always knew that it would become controllable but when the time needed to explain to everyone else why it would get there isn’t available, it gets difficult.

The second lesson I learnt is in micromanagement.  I learnt that I really, really, don’t like being micromanaged, but also that it adds extra stress when your PM is chasing you for silly things that seem so important for them but really aren’t important at all.  I think that micromanagement is a result of lack of knowledge but also a symptom of not being trusted, and that bothers me.

I had my quarterly appraisal the other week and was asked about what specific positions in the business I was aiming my career at.  I told her that I wasn’t.  It’s safe to say that my line manager now knows where I stand.  I gave up this sort of work years ago because I didn’t enjoy it.  When there’s no fun and no prospects it’s time to go.

Job hunting is really difficult!  The thing I’m noticing is that job descriptions, or at least the ones I’m looking at, seem to be very specific.  They all seem to be written for someone in particular despite them being advertised by agencies.  I know that is often the case, but when literally every single one I’m reading asks for something highly specific, I’m wondering how anyone at all ever changes jobs.  Tis a mystery to me.

For example, looking at an NHS Project Management job that needs 3-5 years of experience on NHS Project Management systems already… is that not a bit chicken and egg?!

It’s a little weird too, because I kinda felt that because I’m so niche I could emphasise transferrable skills and that might give me more opportunities, but applications are not going well so far.  I thought by the Law of Averages something would turn up.  Alas not, so far.

Work has had me in France for a bit between when we last spoke and now.  I spent a working week in Paris and I can’t remember how many weeks in and around Lille.

I was staying in the business area of Paris and didn’t get much chance to get out and about, which was a bit unfortunate.  Plus, a 49 euro daily allowance for food in Paris isn’t much! The area I was in had pretty much nothing “cultural”.  It had a shopping centre and oh so many offices that screwed up my phone’s GPS when I didn’t know where I was going!

Lille is alright.  At least the restaurants and bars are, although I didn’t see enough to call it a holiday destination.  The town with the factory in had around three shops, a church and a kebab place.  One of the shops sold air rifles that looked like heavy artillery.  Another one sold medical machinery.

I ate a lot of cheese, and feel like I’m now paying for it.  The weekend I had to stay there gave me an opportunity to eat supermarket purchased fruit and veg which was so nice.  I didn’t realise that the city would close on a Sunday either.  I found somewhere for breakfast but, other than that, nothing.

And in a sense, that was quite nice, because the only thing really to do is spend time with friends.  I’m going to try to carry that forward I think.  It’s not like retail takes a big chunk of my time, but it is kind of easy to leave things till Sunday and just nip out to get a few things.  It’s a distraction that the French have removed.

They are rubbish at coffee though.

I don’t know still whether I can carry on a routine with this blog again, but I have a few post ideas so I’ll see how it goes. I hope the last few months have treated you well.

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