A very haphazard Christmas

Project management is second nature to our anonymous blogger, apart from when it comes to Christmas. The secret engineer wonders why we rarely apply workplace-honed management skills to our daily lives. 

Well it’s that time of year again and, as I write this, most of the country appears to have been brought to a traditionally festive standstill by snow. There are still a couple of weeks to go to the gala of conspicuous consumption that is Christmas Day itself but here at Chez S-E we remain notably decoration free.

No doubt we will be getting the varied assortment of old boxes and carrier bags out of the loft next week before shot-gunning baubles, trinkets and tat around the old place with gay abandon. Truth be told though, the schedule’s all a bit haphazard. Then there’s putting the damned stuff away again afterwards. One day to put it all away followed by the familiar cycle of randomly finding decorations secreted in dark corners all the way up to Easter.

I know there are those out there who take this sort of stuff very seriously, festooning their house with enough lights to stretch from here to Lapland and back, but even so I’m not aware of anyone who sits down and plans it all properly. Or at least not for their own homes.

I suspect that the spontaneity of getting everything out and deciding, there and then, where to put it is seen as part of the fun, but I wonder if that is really anything other than self delusion? “Where shall I put this illuminated reindeer, you know, the one that looks like it’s been involved in some bizarre Frankenstein-esque experiment? Next to the garage? No…. we don’t want a repeat of the ashen faced children and angry parents from when we first got it, so how about on the roof where the children can’t get too close……like last year? Yes, exactly the same place….that will do.”

We go on all these courses and refine skills for work that many of us don’t also use in the wider world.

The closest I personally got to applying my project management skills at home was with regard to the proposed redecoration of our library. After a number of animated discussions I finally got Mrs Secret-Engineer to agree to our creating a Gantt Chart before starting, but that’s as far as it ever got.

Believe me, with a library the logistics are a tad more complicated than “move everything into the middle of the room and try not to splash paint on it” so this was an entirely valid step. We also included the all important challenging of paradigms such as “well it makes sense to paint the ceiling first” – come to think of it, that’s probably where it all started to fall apart.

Anyway, the point is that we go on all these courses and refine skills for work that many of us don’t also use in the wider world. I know it’s not just me as one of my team leaders once confided that none of his drinking chums believe he’s even capable of organising the metaphorical party in a brewery, let alone complex design projects such as those we carried out together at work.

Perhaps it’s that we need a break from deploying such mental acuity when we are not compelled to? Perhaps when we are surrounded by non-technical folk, who do not naturally look to us for leadership, its impossible to organise things to this degree? Possibly it’s all down to that need for at least the veneer of making it up as you go along? Whatever the reason, we mustn’t get so hung up about it all that we forget what’s important; the spirit of Christmas.

Speaking personally, I cannot wait to see the look on Mrs Secret-Engineer’s face when she unwraps her presents, consisting of a bag of Barbeque Briquettes and a can of WD40…bought mere hours before from the all night garage…… again.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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