a bit of a whirlwind

Life has been a bit of a whirlwind since the exam, I feel like I haven’t been home long enough to feel on top of anything until this week, hence a lack of blog posts. The exam went ok-ish, I did two OK answers on performance related pay and the need for consultancy skills and one weaker answer on recruitment and selection in the context of diversity, fingers crossed it will be enough to pass. Since then there have been two trips to London, a long weekend away in Devon and another in the Lake District. I have spent this week getting back on top of housework, washing and ironing, the household finances, filing and birthday cards etc etc – just about feel in control of everything again. I am a bit of a control freak so get a bit edgy if I don’t feel in control of at least one aspect of my life so feeling a bit more on an even keel now. Interestingly while I was ‘in the whirlwind’ I didn’t engage much with social media – particularly Twitter – as I didn’t feel I had the head space to handle the influx of information.

My next two OU modules started this week and I am already trying not to panic about the workload. I am really looking forward to Psychometrics though definitely need to get my head round statistics again as it has been a long time since my quantitative research days. My other module is project based and a year-long rather than six months, however the workload in the first few months while I scope out a suitable project is fairly heavy. I am going to need to be really disciplined over the next few months as I can’t afford to leave things to the last minute and I really don’t want my studies to eat into too much ‘family time’. I know the end is in sight and hopefully that will help sustain the motivation.

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eternal student?

I have been asked on several occasions why I am studying for a further degree and I usually trot out the accepted answers – it will be good for my career, it keeps me busy, it seemed like a good idea at the time etc. And while those answers are true I think there is something deeper – I really love learning things and like the structure of formal education. I also like getting the pieces of paper that say that I know things! I imagine that springs from a deep-seated need for recognition and acknowledgement but we shall leave that for a later therapy session!

I didn’t originally set off with the intention of doing a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). I moved roles within my organisation and felt I should know the theory behind what I was trying to achieve at work, so undertook a Managing Knowledge module. And then after finding maternity leave a bit mind numbing I decided to start the MBA. Three years later I am still here with a year to go – it doesn’t have to take that long I have had breaks between modules and have added MSc in Human Resource Management modules to my programme. I study with the Open University which is very flexible and I can combine face to face tutorials with on-line support and collaboration. The activities and assignments are very applied so I am able to use my own work context to explore and understand the theory. I am looking forward to my next module which involves designing and implementing ‘something’ that makes a difference to an organisation, hopefully bringing together the theory in a practical and useful way.

It isn’t all plain sailing, there are times (like now) when assignment deadlines or exams are looming when I wonder why I started on this path. I know it isn’t much fun for the rest of the family when I need to spend time at weekends studying rather than having fun with them. The money I have spent on this could have funded some rather lovely holidays instead. And if it wasn’t for studying the little one’s baby book would be full of facts and photos by now (he is one next month!). But I hope it will all be worth it in a years time when I finish. The only problem is what will I do with myself then.

Queen of procrastination

to do listI have an exam looming so I have become the queen of procrastination. This week I have managed to cross lots of little things off the to do list – making a dentist appointment, sorting out holiday, finding interesting birthday presents etc – however I have done very little in the way of revision. Why?

Wikipedia states that the causes of procrastination are in debate with some researchers believing that it is linked to anxiety about starting the task, others believing that it is to do with low self-confidence or boredom, and others that it is linked to conscientiousness.  I know there are lots of people, books etc out there to help deal with this problem – in fact I think I even ran some workshops on the issue in my previous organisation so know the theory as it were – just struggling to put it into practice. And to be honest this isn’t normally a problem I have.  I am normally a very conscientious person and don’t tend suffer with high levels of anxiety about exams. I like to be prepared for things so you would expect me to be very organised with a clear plan and revision well under way. If I were a Little Miss character I would be Little Miss Organised!

I think the problem is perhaps more practical rather than psychological – I just don’t have the time. Or rather I don’t have largish blocks of time (2 hours or so) in which I can focus and get some useful revision done. Life with two children means that I am studying during afternoon nap time (2 hours at most and not guaranteed) or at night (2 or so hours when I am not at the peak of my cognitive abilities). So with 19 days to go I think it is time to call in some ‘nanny day care’ and get cracking.

ps perhaps this week wasn’t the best time to start a blog!

consultancy and personality

I am currently studying for an MBA and MSc in Human Resource Management (glutton for punishment) with the Open University. As part of my current module (The HR Professional) I have been keeping a professional development file. Which, to be honest, is a bit tricky seeing as I have no current professional practice to reflect on. However I have used it as a self-awareness process to help me think about my future career options and in particular have been thinking about whether a future career as a freelance consultant would suit me. In order to do this I have analysed my strengths and weaknesses and undertaken some psychometric tests. Looking at my preferences in relation to Myers-Briggs – I am an ENTJ so tend to be rational, logical, I like structure and plans rather than ‘winging it’. I do tend to work best when in a team and can bounce ideas off people. I have worked from home a fair bit in the past and can end up feeling a bit isolated and disconnected if I am not careful. So perhaps the sole consultant role is not for me?

This got me thinking as to whether there were certain personality types or characteristics that make for successful consultants. I then had an interesting exchange with @picklejar who wrote a blog post reflecting on her role as a consultant. She suggested that confidence, authenticity and being able to listen were critical but also that context and sector had an impact.  My OU study materials have also been of some use, proposing key characteristics are confidence, resilience and relationship building. I am not sure I have the necessary confidence to ‘hard sell’ my skills and knowledge to organisations but imagine that this grows with experience. And I suppose the same is true of resilience – once you have survived a few knock backs it becomes less of an issue. I have strengths in building relationships so can at least confidently tick one box.

The proof of the pudding is to put it to the test and with some luck, I will be getting the opportunity to do just that. My next OU module is Making a Difference where I need to undertake an organisation based project. So some lucky organisation gets to be a test bed for my burgeoning consultancy skills – I bet they can’t wait.