Tag Archives: project management

Definitely In Spirit, Not So Much The Body …

cementFlexible working is great. Until it isn’t.

Over December and January, it meant that I could take off oodles of time with MS.

Luckily we were fairly quiet, so I spent day after day on my sofa, nursing my fatigue and nerve pain, feeling very sorry for myself and admiring my Nordic-Noir Christmas tree, i.e. it had white lights on it and not much else (too tired).

Now we are in February, those days are coming back to haunt me, and how. Money is not so much tight as non-existent. There’s no more days off and I’m still not 100%.

The good news is, I’ve devised ways to be in work, without actually doing that much. It’s genius:

  • On a large building site, I try to have complicated A3 plans open and nod, seriously, pen in hand. There’s always a pile of cement bags to sit on and cultivate the ‘hmm hmm’ look.
  • If there’s no plans, I sit on the cement bags and look up, with a pondering expression. People will think I’m checking out the roof pitch. For added authenticity, I open the calculator on my phone and tap furiously.
  • I waylay contractors with questions I already know the answers to – plumbers and electricians love nothing more than talking you through their work, wire by wire, pipe by pipe.
  • I count the bricks that have just been delivered (being careful to check the invoice beforehand so I already know the actual number).
  • Make teas and coffees for everyone. If I do this, no one will care you’re actually doing nothing at all.
  • If all else fails, I grab a brush and hold onto it for dear life. I look busy and it’s a great way to stand up straight.

So this is what I have been doing, alongside practising my ‘eyes wide open but I’m fast asleep’ look. I’m getting pretty good, which is why I think The Boss has twigged just what I’m up to.

He bought me a teeny-tiny computer a couple of days ago, so we can synch stuff. Which means I have to do some work. He’s also looking in to office spaces and has booked me into the Apple Store’s ‘Macs for Complete and Utter Numpties’ session next week. (there’s a pretzel store opposite, result).

As my best qualities are bossing people around and typing up spreadsheets, he’s taken the MS into account and is making the most of my talents. I’m a people person and there’s only so much you can say to a pile of cement bags and a tonne of sand.

I’m excited to be moving into a more office-based role. And the best news? It comes complete with zero office politics (I can’t argue with myself/no danger of being sacked for having MS), I still get to wear my builder’s gear to work as I’ll also be out and about checking up on our contractors and I can appear somewhat creative as I open my tiny Mac in the nearest coffee house.

If I could just work out how to use the Mac, I’ll be fine.

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The Fickle Finger Of Fate

pink hardhatOnce upon a time, my career path was set.

Then along came the dastardly Evil Bosses who cast me out into the wilderness for daring to bring MS to the boardroom table.

Step forward the Good Fairy Goblin Wizard, my best friend, who swiftly put me on his payroll and offered me a job with his construction company, giving me breathing space to find a new one.

One and a half years later, I’m still working with him. I love my job. I adore it. It’s flexible, fun and challenging. This friend held my hand all the way through the MS diagnostic process and beyond so probably knows more about MS than I do, thanks to my late-night outpourings of anguish, tears and ridiculous rage against the world.

Sure, when I’m on site (trying to look important and clued up), he sniggers when I trip over a solitary wood-shaving or kick something over for the umpteenth time. He laughs when my bacon buttie suddenly drops from my hand, and he directs me discreetly to a quiet corner when my yawning starts to spread to the labourers. I like that.

We’ve just taken on a huge project, so my job is secure for at least another year, or however long the boss can put up with me (hope he’s not reading this). We’re tying up loose ends on other jobs before we commit fully to it.

Last week, I was with him on a kitchen conversion. My main tasks were to measure up, jot down materials we needed and work out the logistics. Oh, and order a Portaloo for the big job (a very funny conversation with the lovely Emma in Bristol). We work well together, so without thinking, the boss called out, ‘there, no there, yup there, watch your step’, and ‘pick that blinking cable up before you lassoo your foot in it, you dweeb.’

My work is different every single day. And if I’m having a bad day, I make up for it another time. There’s no office politics (a huge positive after the vicious back-stabbing in my last job), no set working times and the men I work with are brilliant. They’re old enough to be my sons (eeeeeeeek), so I am a surrogate Agony Aunt/Mother. The Teenager has unwittingly given me plenty of experience.

So, yes, my career has certainly not panned out the way I envisaged. Not even close. That fickle finger of fate. But my job has given me the space to also do what I love most, writing, which is why I signed up for a Masters in creative writing. The best of both worlds. What more could I wish for?

p.s. I really do have a pink hardhat….

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