Hello Blog, here’s an update post

This is probably going to be a short and rambling chunk of blogpost, mostly because I missed writing things and wanted to get something up on my blog in advance of my next FutureLearn course starting.

My workplace has been going through one of its busiest periods, and on top of that we had an emergency situation which meant doing a lot of press and social media work. If nothing else, this really taught me the importance of taking proper rest periods and getting away from work emails, social media etc enough to let your mind relax.

Outside of my day job, in the near future (probably from next week) I’ll be working on some front-end web design for a local music group, and getting back into keeping up with digital trends and innovations and making sure to get my thoughts down in blogpost form!

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Getting started on PRINCE2 Learning

At the start of the year, I mentioned that I would be working towards a PRINCE2 Project Management qualification this year, and I’ve started to read through the two introduction books that I bought. I’ve decided that I will also get the a proper copy of the official manual, it’s quite expensive but I do find it easier to read and make notes on a physical copy of a textbook.

At the moment, I’m reading the books through on my kindle and putting in highlights. Then I plan to go back through, take those highlights and make my own annotations around them, which I’ll then put up here where I can check back on them regularly to ensure that I still know the details. I’ve said this before but this is where I find that my blog really helps with self-study. If other people might be reading my notes then I have to write and explain them in a way that should makes sense to them, and will therefore for sense to me when I come back to them!

Anyway, I’m a little way into PRINCE2 Made Simple: Updated 2017 Version and the first thing I’m definitely learning is that project management is all about a clear process, with steps laid out where you check in and make sure that the project is still meeting goals and still viable.

The book does keep stressing that this is mostly common sense – of course you go into a big project with laid-out plans in place, but also it shows how a lot of projects can go wrong when you aren’t strict enough about checking back and revising the plans. Projects can go over budget and there has to be a point where you either revise the plan, or cancel it before it goes to waste. A lot of this can be human error, because who wants to admit to their bosses that estimates are wrong and costly mistakes have been made? But if there is a process like PRINCE2 that tells you, yes, you have make a report at this stage, and you have include all of these details, then errors can be corrected much more easily.

Where things are at – Extremely quick post!

So, I’ve been about a month in my new marketing job, which has been a fantastic experience so far. There’s a lot to work on, and much like my previous roles, I’m not planning to talk much about the particular details of my job. But I’m very happy where I am, and so I realised I have some more time to work on blogposts!

I’ve started to look through some stuff on Codecademy again, starting over again with their Intro to HTML. Having been an admin for several more websites since I last tried to complete courses on here, I’m already finding the course easier to work through because I have better context for the code itself. It feels good to have a structured course to work on again as well, and especially one that goes right back to understandable basics. I’ve only ever done coding in bits and bobs and fumbling through stuff until it works, so I’d like to make sure I have a firmer basis.

Honestly, that’s about it for me! Mostly, I’m trying to exercise and get outside a lot. The only realistic way to get to my new office right now is by car so I’m having to make sure I walk to places and exercise more.

Happy New Year

Firstly, Happy New Year!

I hadn’t planned to make a post today at all, but suddenly I felt the urge to set a few short words down before bed.

I know many people probably look on New Year as something of an arbitrary date – yes, it changes a bunch of numbers on the calendar, but in terms of turning over a new leaf, setting goals, or making resolutions, these are things that you could decide to do on literally any other day. Yet, something about today did feel like it was pushing me to be productive and feel uplifted (the unexpected sunny weather definitely helped). I went for a run for the first time in a while, and it felt great. Part of the way through, it occurred to me that my new job being in the grounds of a massive country estate opens up all kinds of possibilities for taking running more seriously as a hobby, at least once it starts to get light in the evenings.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m looking into doing a PRINCE2 Project Management qualification in 2019. I haven’t yet picked a week to do it, because I need to start my new job and then sort out time off, so in the meantime I’ve decided to get started using some of the free material available on the website, and two books I found online, PRINCE2 Made Simple and Prince2 for Beginners. I’ll fully admit that I don’t know if these will help yet, as they’ve been delivered to my Kindle which isn’t presently with me, but I’m hoping that they will get me through the basics of project management before I spend a lot of money on doing an examined course.

What happened in 2018

With less than 12 hours to go until the New Year, it seems like this should be the time for a bit of reflection and round-up on the last 12 months.

For the first time in a while, I’ve actually not just word-splurged this post. Or rather, I did, and after the last fifteen minutes of writing I paused to take stock, and deleted the whole thing – it was a good reminder that quantity does not equal quality, and I’ve already done a post detailing some of my achievements this year. I alluded in that post to career changes and I think now I can talk a little bit more about that. In two weeks time, I will be leaving my role marketing concerts for the Hallé Orchestra, and I will be taking up a new marketing role for the National Trust. This is a hugely exciting challenge, and also only a 12 month contract at present. Although the stability of permanent positions has always seemed preferable (and I’m grateful to have had one), it’s also nice to have the element of being a free agent.

I’m broadly happy with the work I did on this blog this year, though I’ll admit that it wasn’t a priority for much of the time. I got through one big Future Learn course – The Museum as a Site and Source for Learning, and I’ve never been more glad that I blogged my notes as I suspect they are going to be very useful very shortly. I’m also particularly proud of the two conferences that I liveblogged, (Arts Marketing Association Conference and Tessitura Europe).

I didn’t make a huge effort with my personal social media as I’ve tried to do in the past, posting curated links and news, or good instagram photos etc., and honestly I don’t think my online presence suffered for it – quality (relatively!) not quantity again perhaps? I would like to do more YouTube videos next year and to that end I’ve finally moved over to a new phone which a hopefully decent battery life. I’m debating buying a new, small camera for videos, but equally I’m aware that I haven’t used my DSLR much lately and it deserves an airing.

Other than that, what is there to cover? Well, I’m definitely finishing 2018 in a better place than I started it, and that’s something to be really proud of. I don’t have any grand resolutions for next year right now, nothing I absolutely must do by December next year, but it would be great if I could say the same thing again on 31 December 2019. We’ll see.

Reading for Sunday 16 December 2019 – Management and Self-help

So, to follow straight on from my last post where I mentioned that I’d be studying various  books on marketing, management and strategy to prepare myself for something more formal in 2019, here are my first few written up notes from these books.

Firstly, a confession. I started ‘Strategic Management for Non-Profit Organisations’ before I even got around to putting up that post (I wrote it on Saturday 15 December, and posted it this afternoon, Sunday 16 December) and ended up abandoning it within the first chapter. It is actually quite an old work, and marketing has definitely moved on a lot – the first chapter is basically desperately trying to persuade you that marketing for charities is real marketing too – as that is my current job, I really don’t need to be persuaded. My sister has kindly offered to lend me some of her business studies textbooks over Christmas, so one of those might be a good replacement.

So, leaving the Project Risk Analysis book to one side for the moment, as it is quite specialised and something I would like to talk through with my father, since it’s actually his area of expertise, I’m reading through “The Wizard Book of Management‘ instead.

A lot of the early part of this book is about dealing with work colleagues and particularly about asserting yourself at work in a balanced way, as well as the importance of managing others positively. Really, this is less of a strategy book and more of a self-help book, so rather than taking notes and popping them up here publicly, I’m just going through and quietly thinking about my work, and how to incorporate some of these ideas!

It’s December – somehow…

So, we’re into the darkest part of the year, which means that I’m spending more time sat inside and less time out and about, so until it gets a little warmer I’m determined to spend a bit more time writing for this blog, even if it’s not anything deep or exciting. So we’ll start with as much of a life update and reflection on the year as I can put on here.

Most excitingly, I bought an apartment of my own this year. I realised back in January that this was something I could afford to do, but unlike renting actually buying property is a complicated business. Several offers fell through, several estate agents messed up and some places turned out to be extremely not as advertised… and once I had an offer accepted it was a further five long confusing months before I had the keys to the place. It has been a huge step in life, and one that I know I’m very privileged to have been able to make in the current economy while still in my twenties.

To be honest, other things I’ve done pale a bit in comparison to that, though I’ve made some exciting career steps and been to some important networking events. I haven’t made as much time this year for personal study, though I’m keeping up with French lessons on Duolingo, and got to do a great Futurelearn course on museums that I’m hoping will stand me in good stead to things to come. I’m planning to change that next year, and look at some more formal courses including possibly a PRINCE2 course in Project Management.

Elsewhere, I’m going to put aside some time in 2019 to do more videos for Manchester Canoe Club and for myself, which will also mean more travelling, and more effort to document those travels either through video, photography or the written word. In recent years I’ve shied away a little from putting too much of my life out online, but I can’t deny that it gives me a lot of opportunities to do creative work. Even little edits like this skiing video (which came out in July…) are a source of enjoyment, and since I’m not in any way interested in viewer numbers, I know I’m putting them up for myself plus family and friends, rather than some kind of Internet Points.

Sorry, that went rather off-topic! I’ll think we’ll leave it here for today, and see where we’re at next week.