Learning Log 86 – Coaching Session 2: Avoiding Self-Inflicted Crunch

Number: 86

Significant Experience: My second session proper – this time looking at my formed habit of putting myself under pressure by focusing on the deadline – or as I refer to it: self-inflicted crunch. (Crunch is something I have come across in gaming referring to the excess amount of work done by game developers in the lead up to a deadline – such as game release – this article is a really good examination of the concept)

What Happened?:   The conversation was about my use of time, and my desire to use it more effectively. My habit of leaving  tasks until close to the deadline leaves little room for error or flexibility so when other pressures – such as family illness or emergency requests come in put myself under an  unnecessary amount of pressure and often end up working later evenings/weekends to meet deadlines. This approach also limits room for mistakes so increases pressure in terms of delivering the quality I expect of myself.

We also discussed how I can suffer from mental/professional fatigue which sometimes affects concentration and how I use time, which may end up being a conversation for another day!

So What?: This was important to verbalise as I had felt it becoming more and more of an issue (in fact being a bit of an in joke between myself and a colleague) and as part of this conversation I was able to structure a workable solution for me as other attempts had been less successful (I’m talking to you false deadlines). It was good to look at it from a different perspective and examine why I focus so much on the end date rather than the start date – and this perhaps gives clues as to why I have let a couple of internal solo-projects drift for as long as I have.  I would like to address these projects in new approach.

Now What?: I have produced an action plan (below) on how to implement this and make it ‘habit’. On March 2nd, I shall reflect on how I have stuck to this and if it has helped

When & Where?: January 23rd, Home.

Self-Imposed Crunch – Avoiding by more effective time management

  • As part of ‘project plan’ (see Golden Rules) factor in how long a piece of work may take and then decide on a start date that factors this in, allows for time ‘slippage’ with goal of removing ‘crunch’ *new notebook needed* 
  • This start date shall be put into the bullet journal task list and entered on the date as a ‘scheduled item’.
  • If piece of work has several parts – start dates should be done for each section – with each part put in bullet journal.
  •  This will only work if I stick to it. Stick to it!!

Learning Log 85 – #Fellowship5 Meeting 9

Number: 85

Significant Experience: The 9th meeting of our Fellowship group – sans a member *sad emoji face*

What Happened?: As usual, no details,  but at the last meeting we discussed moving from a mentor-mentee group approach to a more peer-support and challenge approach and I think this meeting was the first stage in the evolution of that relationship. I felt there was also a renewed focus on Fellowship throughout the room – with my approach (rightfully) challenged and others in room working through issues around evidence.

So What?: This was an important meeting because it has re-ignited my desire to complete Fellowship.

Now What?: I have several actions for the next meeting, all of which I shall have done.

When & Where?: January 22nd 2018, Manchester


Gaming in 2017

I don’t play many ‘new’ games as time and money are things. These, however are a couple of lists of my favourite games I played in 2017 – some new, some not so new – although they were new to me in 2017

2017 Favourite Games

  • Persona 5 – My favourite PS4 game and one of my favourite games ever.  Picked it up a bit later – in June and was seemingly only playing this until Christmas. The world just envelopes you and you can think of little else. Am happily going to sink another 100 hours into my next playthrough.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn – This game is near perfect. I loved everything about it!
  • What Remains of Edith Finch? – I have only gotten into ‘Walking Sims’ last couple of years as they have come over to consoles (PC’s are for emails and Championship Manager 01/02) but this was one of the best single sitting games I have ever played. It seemed to break up the walking better than simialr games with little mini-games that differed from each other. Brilliant.
  • Undertale – not new for 2017, but new for Vita for 2017. This game is brilliant. Don’t want to give anything away so I would just play it. Play it!
  • Prey – Actually not Prey. With its Skyrim-esq loading screens that you spend most of last hour watching as you just run between points (why no fast travel) and game killing bugs and stupid ending and pointless threads throughout game due to stupid ending.

Non 2017 Favourite Games (played in 2017)

  • Freedom Wars – A game I briefly played when it first came on playstation plus. Perfect for my regular commute. I didn’t finish, I hit a level of difficulty I couldn’t surpass so stopped. Which I am OK with.
  • Dear Esther – A lovely, if very sad walking sim. A few years old now. All I would say  is that if it had been a long cut scene it wouldn’t have felt much different.
  • The Vanishing of Ethan Carter – Another walking sim that I really enjoyed.
  • Killzone: Mercanaries – Another Vita game I had barely touched until 2017 as i found it much better with a trigger grip for my fat hands. I am bad at first person shooters and it showed with this but I still enjoyed it.
  • Darkest Dungeon – This was one of my favourite games I had ever played until I got over-confident and lost my main crew on a dungeon crawl and the perma-death system left me basically back at level 1. So i rage quit and even uninstalled it on the vita (without cloud save enabled). Big regret.
  • Rise of the Tombraider – This game was great, but I made a mistake as I played it between replaying Arkham Aslyum and playing Horizon: Zero Dawn so in my mind it pales in comparison when in fact it was a wonderful game to play (if a little long)

2017 Games I hope to get to:

  • Danganropa 3
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Mafia 3
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda
  • Nier: Automata
  • Nioh
  • Resident Evil 7
  • Stardew Valley (if it comes to vita)
  • Steamworld Dig 2
  • Uncharted: Lost Legacy



Learning Log 84 – Coaching: the start

Number: 84

Significant Experience: My first meeting (proper) with my Coach

What Happened?:  I’m not going to discuss the actual content of what was said (as that feels quite self-reductive at this stage although I reserve the right to change my mind!) but more about how I and why I’ve started this journey. I’ve been thinking about coaching for a while, mainly based on the positive reflections and experiences of people who use coaching. I have been informally coached before – my Chartership mentor (and mentor generally) Gil used/uses coaching techniques. I had gone as far to sign up for my organisational coaching scheme, but I didn’t feel any of the  potential candidates were appropriate so I cooled on it. Then a mutually beneficial opportunity  (though I suspect weighted in my favour) came up which felt a much more suitable fit.

So What?: I feel this is an important step in my professional development as it makes more explicit  the commitment to develop from within, to challenge my self-perceptions and self limiting beliefs, to choose a course of action and to follow it. This feels more subtle than identifying a learning or developmental need and doing a course/reading etc.

Also it is a continuation of the departure from the mean for me that began with the Leadership Course and continued with the #fellowshipfive in that it is an approach that is focused upon the individual and is intense, at times emotive and discusses feelings and stuff like that…

Now What?: Get cracking.

When & Where?: January 9th 2018, Home.


Everybody Lies – my thoughts

This is my first book in my #52in52 attempt (to try and read a book a week for a whole year). This is going to be reading for pleasure, so whilst this title was non-fiction, future books will be a mix of fiction and non-fiction and not necessarily professional development focused (though I would argue increased reading for one’s own self will have non-direct professional benefits)

I should say outright that I really enjoyed ‘Everybody Lies’ by Seth Stevens-Davidowitz and would recommend it to anyone interested in this area – and who wouldn’t be!

I have some very basic experience I  this field – having in the past used market segmentation tools (ACORN from CACI) to focus offers but this didnt dampen my enjoyment and I don’t think you need any prior experience/knowledge as it’s written in the informal academic style that is informative but not exclusionary.

The basic premise is one of introducing and espousing the concept of big data without the need for a background in data science and that of a ‘digital truth’. 

The author uses (intentionally?) attention grabbing topics and examples especially earlier in the book such as racial prejudice and voting patterns and po*nhub  preferences (I’m not one for censorship but I suspect there would be some spamming involved)

It may be my public health background but I was most interested in the randomised trials and A/B testing section.  It was fascinating to see how big data and especially big data organisations have adapted certain scientific principles to improve their offer or services.

The book gives examples of how big data is most effective where strong systems are not in place and gives a fantastic example in linking health searching to poorer cancer outcomes (pancreatic I think…) and how big data can be used to highlight a particular population. Again, with my Public Health background, it would be interesting to see a full cycle of big data problem solving – not just the issue/population highlighting but an intervention at said group and evaluation of it’s effectiveness. I am sure this has already been done/in process though.

As the book drew to a close, it did look at the potential pitfalls of big data usage on both commercial and public sectors. Issues such as ‘correlation not equalling causation, generalisation and the curse of dimensionality. Don’t trust your lucky coin…

It’s always nice to reach same conclusions as the author (and the sign of a good read) so the discussion about how big data is underused and wonderful, yet not *the answer* rather an undervalued part of the wider answer wasn’t unexpected and the point about data science moving from social to ‘proper’ science was strongly made.

My final thought would be I hope the author enjoyed his beer (if you read to the end you’ll know what I mean)

As you can tell, I really enjoyed this! Now onto my next book…

Learning Log 84 – #Fellowship5 Meeting 8

Date:  21st December 2017

Number: 84

Significant Experience: The 8th meeting of the #fellowship5 collective

What Happened?: As usual, the details not included, but followed standard pattern of previous actions followed up, next fellowship steps, Action Learning Set. But as ever – it was the conversation and reflection the was most useful. We also went for a cracking end of year celebration meal at Bundobust Manchester.

So What?: This was excellent as ever – and for the first time (as the 2nd member is on the group of submitting) we discussed the evolution of the group. I suspect others in the group may have got to this conclusion earlier but the group isn’t really and has never been about fellowship, rather it is a (library leaders) peer assist and support group which has had a fellowship focus for its first cycle. We have decided on a finish point (July 18th) that is the fellowship cut off and we will officially move from the mentor>5 candidates approach into a more natural peer support group

Now What?: I shall be focusing on getting the fellowship handed in by March 2018 as that is my self-prescribed hand in date.  Wealso need to think of a new hashtag…

When & Where?: Manchester, 16th December 2017

Learning Log 83 – #FakeNews Quiz at Regional Away Day

Date:  15th December 2017

Number: 83

Significant Experience: Presenting at my organisations North West Away Day

What Happened?: My colleague (Rachel) and I were asked represent at the away day as part of the market place session (5 tables with 5 presenters having 15 minutes on each). While a great opportunity, it also had some challenging circumstances:

  • Time – only 15 minutes to introduce, solidify and sell a concept or service
  • IT – no technology of any sort which limits what we could demonstrate 
  • Audience – wide range of audience from admin  to directors and all in between. Difficult to pitch correctly
  • Size – 120ish over 5 groups in same room

So we had to find something suitable around our core service offers that met needs of organisation, that was achievable and interesting but could fit into 15 minutes and work within the setting…

Pub quiz! Critical appraisal fundamentals around a current theme! Hence the #fakenews quiz was born (and only took a couple of hours thanks to some smart googling and NHS Behind the Headlines). The quiz was a success  – enjoyed on the whole and raised the profile of both the service and of Rachel and I. We’ve received new work from it already!

So What?: This was important as presenting is not something I have confidence in and I was very pleased with how it went. It was interesting and relevant to the participants and was an example of me both challenging myself personally in an area of weaknesd but also supporting the organisation by increasing user knowledge 

Now What?: This has given me great confidence in my presenting style and how I deliver them. Going forward I am going to use this confidence and belief in my style to help deliver better training to ensure higher understanding and more effective learning with the participants.

When & Where?: Liverpool, 12th December 2017