The two week Christmas break is one we usually look forward to as a family …. with a sprinkling of trepidation. It’s an opportunity to see family, including our own kids who, for a change, are not drowning in school work. It’s also an opportunity to clear out the house of the mountains of paperwork that build up over the year, broken electronic equipment, unused chargers (we have more chargers than equipment – where do they come from?), clothing that no longer fits or is beyond repair and and tin cans with an expiry date of last June or earlier. We found one tin of rice pudding with a best before date of 2005! I voted we keep it for posterity and to see how long it could last. It’s older than some of the children and we don’t throw them out. Other half voted not!
I say this about the clearing out, but it hasn’t happened as I had planned – we’re still surrounded by junk, albeit less than we had two weeks ago. I think moving house will be the only way to get rid of it. The issue is compounded by new gifts and toys at Christmas. Having sworn against new electronic equipment, the older two have been saving up for a year for iPads and the youngest thinks that my work iPad is, in fact, his. So we bowed down to the pressure – on the basis that the older iPads are actually cheaper than a home pc or their own laptops and they were contributing at least half the cost with hard earned pocket money. So, they each have one now. I’m hoping that it’s not as big a mistake as it seems at the moment and I’m hoping that when school work starts they will prove to be amazingly useful, stopping the arguing over whose turn it is to print from an outdated pc. At the moment, however, they have all been glued, downloading huge numbers of games from FIFA to Sketchman (my favourite), Aliens and Zombies to GTA and investing huge amounts of time getting quite good at them! It has kept them quiet for a fair bit of time!
For work, the iPad has become indispensable. Instead of scribbled-on bits of paper for site and client meetings, all notes are typed and tallied with my desktop – we used Quickoffice which was great for easy note taking, no delay in opening up because it’s off line. You can then tally this with Dropbox and save the notes to your pc. This isn’t problematic if you’re very organised and walk into the office and update straight away. More so if you walk in to a ringing phone or other things to deal with. This year we’re looking at taking notes using Evernote, mainly because of the keyword searchability of the documents. This would make a particular site note containing reference to a particular consultant or supplier attended site so much easier to find.
There seem to be some teething problems in that the app seems to crash much more often – Quickoffice never does - perhaps partly because it’s synchronising on-line every time it is used?
So, Evernote is one of the things I’m looking forward to this year. Yup. Really. That and coming home earlier one day a week to see above mentioned offspring – I’m hoping to build that up to two days a week if I can get access to my office pc from home. I’m excited about Ubuntu being released for smartphones. I’m still shocked at how heavy the kids’ school bags are and why schools don’t allow iPads to be used instead – it would save them a fortune in books – a science book is around £12 and each child has something like 12 subjects at secondary school. I’m sure that schools will have to adopt some combination of books and tech – it seems crazy not to.
I’m also looking forward to seeing Life of Pi. I loved the book and the adverts for the film look good. Perhaps I can do that on one of my early home days!
And now, after two weeks of beautiful slothfulness (if you don’t count clearing drawers, house cleaning, clearing out wardrobes, cooking for 14 at Christmas and the same on New Years Eve and a full day cleaning up after each) I’m looking forward to going back to work on Monday.
I’m looking forward to seeing the projects that are on site and the ones coming to completion; I’m excited about the planning application we’re about to submit and the planning approval we’ve obtained and going into the construction detail for that project. I’m optimistic about the new calls we’re receiving and the potential clients and projects that will arise from them. And I’m excited about our new Design in a Day service that was launched at the end of last year and is getting a very positive response.
All in all, there are reasons to be cheerful this year.