How to give yourself time (but it does mean giving up things)

Mon 18th – Sun 24th June

Personal Development

Ensuring time-off happens

Last Mon was brilliant – a TOIL day off work. πŸ™‚ Basically I was catching up on an extra day worked in April! It is so important to try to take time owed rather than just give up. This meant that I had 4 days in a row of not being in the office which is what I needed to recharge my batteries. I think the secret on how to keep going with anything (work, relationships, family, hobbies, etc) is to have a little break every so often to realise what you love and what you are missing.

Letting go – what was lost

But giving yourself time off does mean letting go. I was supposed to go to a celebration event on Mon afternoon, Esmee Fairbairn’s 10 years of being involved in Social Investment. But going would actually have meant my day-off not a being day-off. It was good that the report to be launched at the event got emailed out in the morning. So got all the info although I did miss out on catching up with other colleagues. Hard choices have to be made to give yourself a break. You can’t do everything or you will start to feel overwhelmed.

Unfortunately I had to do the same on Wed night when I was supposed to go to the Apps for Good Awards ceremony. I have been in the past and it is a very uplifting celebration of young people’s ingenuity as well as an encouragement of their realisation of the power of tech to be used for good purposes. However, I was all day in the office with meetings right to the last minute. This left me knacked and it would have been too much to get to Bethnal Green. Instead I met with Dave for bite to eat and unwind.

Treasuring your friends

Thurs evening was a meal to celebrate the 60th birthday of my old friend Daisy (aka Dave). I have known him for about 30 years. Me and my Dave as well as another Dave and Rob, both people I haven’t seen to have a decent chat with for years. Fun to catch up though I am always keen to consider the present and look to the future rather than dwell on the past – over and gone. Sandy should have been there but couldn’t so sent a framed pic of himself! God knows what Daisy is supposed to do with this afterwards. After me and Dave left, another old friend called Arthur turned up. Shame to have missed him but we will have to catch up separately.

Languages, coding, emails

This is the usual stuff I report on under Personal Development. Big success is that I have made a habit of using Duolingo. Basically before I go to sleep every night, I make sure I dabble in some language learning. It has become a (good) habit. I’m trying to do the same with coding by inter-weaving some learning via a couple of apps that teach you how to coded (Grasshopper & Mimo) whilst also doing Duolingo. It might work, it might not but no harm in trying. Emails were heavy but I feel just about on top of them.

Innovation and Creativity

Office stuff is too boring to write about. Lots of internal meetings which actually are very useful in my role (i.e. around comms, digital development, strategy, and budgets) but not of interest to anyone reading my blog for fun. However a couple of external link-ups which are definitely worth relating to you.

Mike Dixon

An excellent coffee catch-up on Wed morning with Mike Dixon. Formerly CEO of Citizen’s Advice where he oversaw a big digital push and now of Addaction – the big charity providing support around addiction issues. Really interesting guy and nice to have a no agenda meeting. We were pushed together by Dom Ruffy of Amy Winehouse Foundation particularly with our common interest around tech for good. Quite a big philosophical but also practical discussion on how the not-for-profit sector can develop in the future and factors that may hold it back.


Laptop and a coffeeFri I had a good meet-up with Abigail and Ellie from Outlandish, a tech co-op in north London. We spoke about the services they offer as well as the group of tech co-ops that they belong to Co Tech.

tech picI love the co-operative model though it has become unfashionable in the era of aping the Silicon Valley business model for everything. If you are looking for a tech developer then please do look at the Co Tech website though there are also some great ‘normal’ tech developers who believe in tech for good.

Health and Efficiency


Four times last week. Absolutely brilliant. Mornings of Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Sat. All generally long sessions of about hour and a half combining some cardio and some weights. I do like to focus on my legs in terms of stimulating the muscles but I also needed to do recovery on them on Mon post Sun’s jog-run.


lady running in cold weather

Done on Sun morning and slower than I expected (1 hour 7 mins). My tactic of going off slowly and gradually improving my pace per km did not work. πŸ™

May also have been psychological limitations with me being worried about some muscle and joint problems especially an ache in my right calf – I was worried about aggravating it.

Long purposeful walks (sustainability)

I did several long walks last week. Possible through a combination of time to do them, nice weather, and pleasant routes to be walked. Often I combine with reading a book as I walk along or listening to either a Dr Who audio adventure or Radio 1. And in many ways this was the best example of my living in a sustainable manner last week. Long purposeful walks provide good exercise and are good for the environment.

On Mon and Thurs I did lovely long walks from my gym in Oxford Circus to where I live near Olympia. Then on Fri I walked after the INR clinic from Fulham to Vauxhall.

INR & weight

bloods takenIncreased warfarin dosage meant that my INR on Fri was 2.6 which is in range. πŸ™‚ So no visit to get it checked again for another 5 weeks. πŸ™‚ Also good health news in that I’ve managed to lose about a pound and a half to be down to 14 stone and one & a half pounds. Could be all that walking!

Books and Reading

Two excellent books read last week, both fantasy / sci-fi with a heavy philosophical slant. I also popped to the local library on Sat afternoon to return some books. I love going to the library – a perfect example of the ‘sharing economy’. Picked up some new reads including the Man Booker prize winner 2017 ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ by George Saunders. It’s on a waiting list so I’ve got to read it this week and return next Sat. I’ve started it – strange but good (bit like me πŸ™‚ )

‘The Dark Forest’

This is a piece of Chinese sci-fi by the author Cixin Liu. It is the second book in a trilogy that started with the brilliant ‘Three Body Problem’. This really is excellent – hard sci-fi combining big scientific ideas and philosophy. Fundamentally aliens are coming to Earth arriving in several hundred years time with all indications of not being friendly. The result is a society that moves between extremes of hope and despair, innovation and retreat.

It really is a wonderful meditation on whether we should be shouting out to the cosmos about our existence and what the cosmos may be like. There are also reflections on humanity. Some great curve-balls thrown in including the aliens being able to spy on everything humanity is doing and entrusting hope to maverick individuals. But there are also considerations of modern times we live in with a clear nod to Mao’s Cultural Revolution and modern geo-politics.

I am really looking forward to reading ‘Death’s End’, the final part of the trilogy. One of the books I picked up at the library on Sat. πŸ™‚

‘A Wrinkle in Time’

My other reading book last week. The ‘children’s classic’ by Madeleine L’Engle. I’ve had it from the library for a while and it’s been called back for another reader so that pushed me to read it. It’s good but strange. I suppose a key thing to realise is that it was published in 1962 and written in the late 50s. It’s also quite a philosophical fantasy / sci-fi novel but clearly from a different era and country.

I can’t help but put the book into the mind of the author and their experiences as well as relating to the time and place it was written. Indeed, I do this with all my books. As such, I presume this book reflects on 50s America and the Cold War. I suspect the story may be a reflection on the sterility and evils of communism and a celebration of individualism. Having said that, it is a far better and more humane book than the writings of Ayn Rand which it slightly reminded me of. Checking out on the internet, it appears this book has had various interpretations based on different times and outlooks i.e. being seen as both pro and anti Christianity.

Dr Who audio adventures: The Cybermen

CybermanI’ve been listening to The Cybermen adventures by Big Finish as I walk around. A series about the human-android war in the Orion system with the cybermen making a sneaky intervention. It links to a Dr Who adventure but the Doctor himself doesn’t make an appearance. Not always easy to follow but fun just to let it play in my ears.

The Week Ahead:

  • Re-arranged hours at work but hopefully 4 gym sessions again and 1 jog-run
  • Attending the Collective Global Accelerator demo day on Tues. I was involved in selecting the international innovators to come to London for this accelerator so it will be good to find out more about them as well as how they have developed and what they have learnt.
  • Couple of interesting catch-ups with external people. Wed possibly a phone catch-up with someone based in Dubai. Then on Thurs catching up with Matthew Smerdon and Jake Lee from Legal Education Foundation on the possibilities of working together.
  • Fri afternoon I am part of a panel at the conference on Charity Digital being run by Reason Digital and Directory of Social Change. The session I am in is on ‘Funding Charity Digital’. Need to make sure my bit has relevance and stimulates the participants.
  • There’s a meal on Thurs night for all the conf speakers. It would be great to attend but I may be too knacked looking at what else is going on.
  • Aiming to complete at least the George Saunders book as well as to listen to more of The Cybermen series.
  • I’m on a roll with Duolingo but need to see if I can make stick my attempt to learn coding as well. Emails – who knows?
  • Tues evening the Non-Such Singers are performing at St Martin in the Fields. Great singers and my colleague Rowena is a member. Again my main enemy will be tiredness after a busy day.

And Finally…

It was the big march on Sat demanding a vote on the final deal around us leaving the EU and providing the option to stay if we want to. People have a right to change their mind especially if they could be worse off. And this time people can know what they are voting for without Russian interference or hyperbole. Great weather and a great atmosphere. So many people in a good humour but feeling very angry (looks like business agrees with them). Also a wonderful mix of people. Interestingly I bumped into people leaving the tiny pro-Brexit counter demo. ‘Gammon’ is a fitting description – do old, white people really have the right to tie the rest of society to their vision of the past?

Meanwhile Trump demonised immigrants and governments in parts of Europe did the same.


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