The portfolio career might sounds exciting – and it can be – but the reality is a bit like having multiple children.
What happens when you have a ‘portfolio’ career and all your jobs are hectic at the same time? In the eyes of some, the portfolio career is the ideal – it gives you flexibility and variety. And, don’t get me wrong, it can be fantastic, plus experience from one job can be useful in another, such as learning how to do a podcast.
But when everything is on code red it can feel like a bit of a cyclone, particularly if the different jobs use different platforms to communicate and you find yourself constantly switching between them on a dodgy computer which you don’t have time to fix.
Don’t get me started on Zoom and Teams and everything else in between. In my experience – and it may be my computer – Teams takes an age to load which is very stressful when you are on a very strict timetable. Plus for some reason which I cannot fathom – and do not have the time to – the volume is poor so I have to shout. My computer similarly has a problem with Zoom – there is no audio at all. I have tried to figure out why, but I am none the wiser. So I do all Zoom calls on my phone. Google Meet works for everything and it doesn’t cut out like Zoom at 40 minutes – at least not yet. You just click a link and hey presto you are on the call in seconds. It’s a miracle. The only problem is some companies don’t allow it. Boo.
The Zoom phone situation is what I like to call a workaround. I am helping with running a festival at the moment and we have a session on a book about workarounds. I feel my whole life is a workaround, including the family side of things. People think they are being helpful by suggesting all sorts of technical solutions – online calendars and the like – and maybe that would be a good thing, but having more than one job means more than one work calendar. In the end the workaround – a physical calendar [this year’s theme is apparently Essex] in the kitchen seems to work best and means I get up and down a lot during the day so there’s a fitness benefit too.
I have written endlessly about ChatGPT of late, but I just don’t have the time – or the personal interest, to be honest – to check out what it can do. I feel like there’s too much ‘content’ drawing on Google already. I long for something original and unexpected. I want to think well of technology, but I think I have a fairly fractious relationship with it and, like many things, I kind of don’t think it’s designed with me in mind. It assumes some sense of order or order-ability and I’ve become primed for total chaos.
At the moment I feel very guilty about not paying my family enough attention – even when I’m actually present and look like I’m in the conversation. My mind is drifting off into things like whether the guy from Nepal knows that the British clocks go forward this weekend and so will be in the event on time rather than an hour before. For that reason, I found myself wandering around a local golf course in the cold the other evening with the kids and then working in the bathroom when everyone had gone to sleep. Hopefully, things will come off code red, but the problem with the portfolio career is that there is usually something approaching code red at most times of the year these days.
So, technology people, when you’re designing stuff make sure it is as simple as possible, that it loads quickly, that it doesn’t always involve downloading an app [and therefore un-downloading some of the others because your phone is full] and that it is just a question of clicking a button and everything working like magic.