Wot, no blogs? Teaching and the fun of the Fair

The eagle-eyed will have noticed a distinct lack of blogging here since November and some have even phoned to query the lack of activity. I can confirm I am alive and able to type but some consultancy, web site coding, Christmas, New Year and other excuses have all contributed to the blackout.
Since we last ‘met’ I have been asked to teach IT for Sutton Library Services and ‘standing in the wrong place at the wrong time’ has also lead to my appointment as Organiser for the 2012 Cheam Charter Fair.
Teaching IT has proved to be interesting and rewarding, allowing me to pass on over 38 years of IT experience to those starting out. It also provides an opportunity to meet new people and network with other Council staff.
In rugby terms the Fair role could be described as a ‘hospital pass’ but it is likewise providing an opportunity to meet people and network. In addition it has also required me to hone my WordPress, marketing, Social Media and diplomacy skills. With my background it was inevitable that IT would be at the heart of the job so within four hours of accepting the pass role I had bought a domain name, set up a web site and created accounts for Facebook and Twitter. The use of Social Media for the Fair has confirmed its power but also reminded me there are still organisations and individuals out there who can’t be reached via the Internet, and are losing out because of it – an interesting link back to the teaching role.

Life after employment – month 1

It is now a month since I left my full time job and time to look back to see how life outside the world of commuting is progressing. A month ago I set myself some objectives including the publishing of this blog. The ‘cunning plan’ was described in my blog post ‘Avoiding the sofa and daytime TV‘ and includes a set of target categories (Exercise, Learning, Beer/brewing, Photography, IT, Social Media, Human interaction, Travel) which I thought would cover my aims and needs.
I have been keeping a note of activity relevant to these target categories since the start of October and have now analysed this information to try to judge my progress. I shan’t bore you with the detail but, not surprisingly, my level of achievement has been mixed. A lot of areas would definitely get a ‘could do better’ mark and under the ‘Learning’ category there isn’t a record of any activity. In some cases the lack of achievement isn’t an issue e.g. the ‘Learning’ category was aimed at subjects outside my core skills set so overlaps with the ‘Social Media’ category which has seen plenty of activity. Over time I suspect the learning curve for Social Media will decline, leaving more time for other things.
Although it may seem a pain keeping track of activity it is useful that I can see where lifestyle changes are needed to enable me to put more effort into areas that are lacking achievement. I can also review the categories and adjust as necessary for future months.
All this may seem a bit ‘over the top’ but it does provide a simple way of tracking what I should be doing against what I am doing and, importantly, it is keeping me away from the dreaded couch and daytime TV. If you have a better plan please get in touch!

Avoiding the sofa and daytime TV

Having left the world of commuting and the 9 to 5 work pattern I now need to ensure that I don’t descend into the greater evil of the sofa and daytime television. My current approach is to identify what I should be doing to achieve, and maintain, physical and mental well-being then make sure I do it! All this is also meant to be interesting and will hopefully generate some income here and there so I need to consider my interests and skills.
I have therefore created a set of high level categories which cover my goals and will keep track of my activity against these categories to see how I am getting on. By keeping track I will also be able to see how useful my categories are and adjust them as appropriate. I suspect I am trying to be too scientific about something that isn’t but that’s part of the challenge; let’s see how it goes!
My first stab at the categories is shown below but if you have any suggestions relating to the categories or the general approach I would appreciate your input.
Categories (in no particular order):
– Exercise. I need to increase my fitness.
– Learning. For business or fun.
– Beer/brewing. I don’t just mean going to pubs!
– Photography. One of my interests.
– IT (Consultancy/Web site programming). Earn some money!
– Social Media. An area I am interested in that will enhance my existing IT skills.
– Human interaction. Not a good idea to spend all my time at home interacting by computer.
– Travel. They say it broadens the mind!
I have realised an activity could fall into multiple categories but I think this is probably an advantage rather than issue. In a few months I may however come to regret these words!

Goodbye NLA, hello to the unknown

I finally left my job as Head of Systems at the National Landlords Association yesterday. Thanks to all my colleagues, and ex-colleagues for a great send off and all the kind words. IT can be a strange job, if things are working nobody notices or comments, if things go wrong everyone is chasing you. This imbalance can lead to a certain paranoia as you notice the negatives more than the positives. It is therefore reassuring when people voice their appreciation of your efforts.
As it’s the weekend I’m not sure whether I’m out of work today or from Monday.