in Prose

S02E05

What day is it?

Monday threw out my mental model for the week. I’ve talked before about how m’colleague and Fast Streamer Felix gets a day off a week to do training and work on his final project. These are normally Monday, but this week we planned to close the office on Thursday and work from home on Friday — so he switched his training day to match.

Long story short, every day felt a day ahead all week and left me with a migraine and a permanently perplexed expression.


I spent some time with a mountain of paperwork for a client. It was a nice throwback to my days in government; reams of paper and questions that have never been tested with users. It was a struggle that would dog me for the rest of the week.

Tuesday: This was mostly taken up by backlog grooming. I also talked through my suggested sprint goals for the next few sprints, and got some really good, hard questions from the team. I know I mentioned this last week, but this is sort of in the opposite direction: it’s so good to have people who can quiz me on my thinking to help me clarify it for myself.

Still, it’s also very stressful. It’s a difficult line to walk between honest, helpful critique of someone’s thinking and making them feel like they’ve not done anything right, and that difficulty is compounded when the presenter themselves struggles with their own authenticity. I’m trying to decouple my opinions on what we should do with the emotion behind it: the fact that I’ve worked really hard on some plan doesn’t automatically confer brilliance on it. Smaller feedback loops help with this — putting just enough effort in it to make a skeleton plan means I’m less emotionally invested in it.

Plus if it works I can do a skeleton dance

Wednesday was a good day. I moved the dev team over to Scrum when I started back in season 1. For the first time I’ve given them two high level sprint goals and asked them to talk me through their approach to meeting them. The response was really very positive; I talked last week about how taking agency away from workers makes them feel shitty, so it figures that the inverse is also true. It’s also less stress (but also slightly more?) on my part. I don’t need to spend as much time writing out tickets and explaining my thinking; instead, I ask the team to come up with the approach and then think through it and make sure it reaches the goals. In Russian, this is Доверяй, но проверяй: Trust, but verify.

This excellent working day, where I think I demonstrated strategic thinking and an eye for detail was somewhat kiboshed by an email from a supplier of Christmas presents, who’d be shipping a gift I’d selected. I had, for reasons best left unconsidered, put in a postcode that did not at all resemble my own. So it’s almost certainly not going to arrive, and I’m going to look like a turnip.

It’s my go-to insult at the moment. Gender-neutral and meaningless, but with a good mouth-feel

Thursday was, as ever, my day off. I went to locate presents: two were cloistered at the local delivery office, and three had to be purchased from central London. It was…a challenge. The jewelry shop in particular was rank with the smell of fear and Lynx Africa. There’s not much more to say about Thursday, aside from the fact that emails were building up ominously. If this were being shot for television¹ then this is where we’d cut between a dam just beginning to burst or a support starting to creak and splinter and me, mundanely fighting through the crowds on Oxford Street.

Friday and my last day at work until Wednesday. I learned more about our CRM, answered an absolute flurry of last minute emails², and talked to Felix about deploying his extremely impressive piece of software onto the interwebs. And then I clocked off at four thirty.

And then I came back, because the US still had a number of hours left before they clocked off and the paperwork from Monday needed a couple of minor tweaks that had to come from my brain.

And then I really did clock off.


¹ Sorry, when

² and received a positive avalanche of out-of-offices from people who’d set up automatic forwarding to people who’d also gone on leave

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