Feeling knacked and dealing with it

Mon 4 – Sun 10 June

Dozing bulldogWow, what a busy week. As I write this blog reflecting on what has been – I realise that I have been feeling pretty knacked. And it’s not been helped by my hayfever going crazy. My eyes in particular are itching like nothing I’ve felt before. Every year I get hayfever but this really feels like one of the worst.

A particular issue for me is only working 3 paid days and having days off; that completely fell apart last week. Basically I was working every day. I wasn’t working at the weekend which I desperately needed. But there was much to catch-up on. In theory work owes me time off in lieu (TOIL) but this falls apart when things are so busy that there is no time to take it. 🙁 So how did I deal with being knacked? Bit like eating an elephant – piece by piece and take rests (apologies for such a horrible analogy, I would never eat an elephant).

Innovation & Creativity

Sabbatical is on!

Fuck it, I am not carrying on as I am. I have the right to a semi-paid sabbatical, indeed I am the last person in my organisation with this right. I was going to do it but it was postponed due to taking up my new post. So I would be crazy not to take it. Told my boss this is going to happen and my job-share colleague. Not sure if it is going to start in Jan or March – the latter to enable me to support my colleagues around Red Nose Day. And it will probably last 3 months. I now need to plan and make sure I use it usefully and to its full potential.

Great quotation below about the need to balance life, and ‘pleasure’ comes from living well. The poor Epicureans got a hard time particularly from hair-shirt Christians who equate goodness with being miserable and pleasure with sin.

Two away days

Leadership Team

I always enjoy these guys

First up on Wed was the Leadership team I am part of alongside our Exec Directors (EDs) – big boy stuff. 🙂 A good day spent at the offices of NCVO. Morning was all about learning to know each other better, lots of being very honest especially what motivates us. Afternoon was more about sorting parts of our new grants strategy and explaining it to the EDs. All followed by drinks afterwards. 🙂

Influence Team

The following day (Thurs) was the away day for the Influence team I manage with Dilhani. This was at the Royal Society of Medicine – big thanks to my colleague Paul Summerfield, partnership working in action.

An even more intense day than the one before. Morning was all about defining what we want to achieve as a team including setting the targets of the sub-teams: Social Investment, Travel & Engagement, Story-Telling, Policy & Advocacy. We also worked on agreeing our learning strategy, and being clear how we fit within our Impact & Investment directorate.

Lunch at The Phoenix, surprisingly fast and good. Then back to the RSM for colleagues from other parts of the organisation to join us so we could work out how we inter-act with relevant parts of the wider organisation. Drinks afterwards again. We found a bar doing 2 4 1 cocktails which meant a whiskey sour for me followed by an espresso martini. 🙂 Overall, a good day and I think it left us feeling a lot closer as a team.

Funders and Tech for Good

Tues afternoon I was part of a workshop run by the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) on how foundations can link with and support tech for good. Great to be working with some very sound pro-tech people including Will Perrin, Cassie Robinson, Nick Stanhope (Shift), and Faiza Khan (Paul Hamlyn Foundation). A good audience as well. We didn’t always agree which is fine. Key message from me was to be enthusiastic and ambitious but realistic about tech. The latter can particularly be dealt with through small grants and partnership working.

Dan Sutch

Fri afternoon, I had two external catch-ups with great colleagues. First, there was Dan Sutch from CAST. We have worked together for years around tech for good and modernisation of the third sector. Great just to have time to talk particularly about the direction CAST will be taking in the future with its desire to stay as a small and virtual organisation aka AirBnB & Uber. They don’t want to employ loads of staff nor have loads of offices.


Babs Evans

Then I caught up with Babs Evans. We haven’t seen each other for about 8 years! She is now at the funder The Henry Smith Charity and before that was at Children in Need. But we also talked about our lives outside work and had a good chat about how best to lose weight and look after our health.

Other work stuff:

  • Good 1:1 with my boss then I did (well I think I did) good 1:1s with my team managers who look after Travel & Engagement and Social Investment;
  • Briefing with our new Tech sector partnership manager;
  • Assisting in putting together the directorate agenda of events and targets for the coming year.

Health & Efficiency


barbell with weightsAs one would expect from a week with most days spent doing work stuff, my exercise routine suffered. Only got to the gym twice: Tues & Sat mornings. Upper body stuff and some extra work on legs on Tues. Didn’t hit the legs hard on Sat because I wanted to make sure of no injuries for my Sun jog-run.

I have put a new element into my gym routine. 10-15 mins each on the cross-trainer and the treadmill going uphill. Aim is to boost my cardio / calorie burn as well as working my legs and glutes.


I was apprehensive about this. Due to being knacked and little niggles with long-term injuries. My right knee was playing up as were my calves and my left Achilles. But I pushed myself to go for the jog-run first thing on Sunday and it turned out to be one of my best for a long time. Just over 1 hour and 4 mins. I think it worked because I had so much restful sleep the day before. And also I ate light on Sat.

On the jog-run itself, I deliberately didn’t go too fast initially though my times per km did vary considerably – I need to work on more consistency in this. Video reports about my jog-runs can be seen on this page.


Nothing major last week though some small wins for the planet:

  • Lots of walking – also good exercise. Like on Wed morning when I walked from Victoria to Kings Cross
  • Took some more bits to the charity shop, stuff saved when we had a clear-out at work
  • Tried not to always eat meat and eat more veggie/vegan options
  • Used my own cup as much as possible at coffee shops (and thereby getting a discount)
  • Reading my library book

Personal Development

Duolingo language learning was good based on simply going to bed around 9pm to do some and then read before sleep. Though did no Duolingo on Thurs due to the day being busy and me being knacked. No real coding practice though a kind offer from Matt Haworth of Reason Digital that I could spend some time with his coders. Fucking emails went crazy last week. Without constant attention they go through the stratosphere. And the result is I feel out of control around my life generally. But keeping them under control makes me feel like a slave to them.


Tired man asleepI cannot stress how knacked I felt by the weekend last week. Sat I did the gym and walked back to Dave’s across St James Park – managing to miss the crowds for Trooping the Colour both going and coming.

Our friends Patrick and Stephen were at Dave’s and we had a lovely catch-up. After they left, I went to be and slept for 3 hours. Clearly I needed it. And later I was asleep again by 10.30pm. Then on Sun, I had an hour and a half snooze in the afternoon after my jog-run and another early night – asleep again by about 10.30.

ChillinI think the Dalai Lama said, ‘sleep is the best form of meditation’. I always feel like I should be doing things but getting so much sleep on Sat and Sun really was incredibly beneficent to my wellbeing.

Books & Reading

Fashionably late at the Velvet Page book club

‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ was the book I read for the Velvet Page book club. On Thurs itself, I went for drinks after my team away day and then had a quick bite to eat at one of my favourite Thai cafes before turning up for the book club. Indeed I only caught the last 10 mins. But good to see everyone though shame we didn’t have more news about the birth of the baby to a regular attendee.

The book itself – doing harm in the name of Jesus

I really enjoyed it. Though it did feel a bit like a Young Adult novel. As one group member said, 4 stars – I concur. The story is of a young woman in Montana whose parents die and she is looked after by her aunt. She has an affair with another female teenager and is sent to a remedial school run by Christians to convert LGBT kids. Another aspect of a fucked-up America.

It’s a good story in that the camp, those who run it, and the kids in it are not just cardboard characters – coconuts put up to be knocked over. Clearly it’s wrong but the motivations of the people involved are mixed and the children deal with it as best they can. Bit like the way POWs dealt with internment camps during WWII. Some weak spots in the story and it does sort of end by falling off a cliff (me thinks the author wasn’t sure how to finish it) but definitely worth a read.

The Week Ahead:

I have got to make sure the coming week is easier on me than the week just gone so that I don’t get so knacked.

  • 2 non-work days next week: Mon & Thurs. I was supposed to meet with Sam Applebee  from Super Global on Mon and attend COGX (a big event about AI). I am so grateful that he was OK about me dropping out just so I can have some breathing space.
  • Thurs it’s me and Dave down to Brighton to see Bob in his nursing home. I haven’t seen him for about 2 months so it will be good to catch up but it doesn’t really feel like ‘a day off’.
  • Tues all day I am at the BT Tower for the Tech4Good Awards. Morning, we announce the shortlists in each award category followed by lunch and then the judging panel to agree the winners.
  • Wed is an office day after getting my INR (blood-clotting level) checked. All internal stuff particularly around being clear on the stories / messages we want to put out into the external world as well as agreeing more details on our upcoming grants programmes.
  • Fri looks like a meetings day including one with my old colleague Kate Adams, now at NESTA
  • Weekend is clear though it’s also mum’s birthday
  • More Duolingo, I love playing with languages. Perhaps some coding. And keep those bloody emails under control so I don’t feel I’m a slave to them.
  • I will finish my current reading book and move onto another one. Might get to listen to a Dr Who audio adventure.
  • Unfortunately I think it’s just going to just be gym twice and jog-run once. I might get something in on Tues or Thurs morning but that could be too ambitious.

And Finally…



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