My first weeknote

Hello and welcome to my first weeknote.

I hope that these will encourage me to write regulary, remember what on earth I'm doing, and take stock of where I am with things.

I journal pretty regularly on a personal basis. It helps me recognise that my moods and experiences are transient, even if I'm having a bad moment. It gives me a lot of perspective, so applying the same approach professionally seemed like a good thing to do.

As I was mulling this over, I came across 2 brilliant and timely articles on Twitter, written by 2 people I really admire, who both just happen to be called Sara. Just write by Sara Soueidan and Don't feel like an expert? Share anyway by Sara Wachter-Boettcher.

Both articles emphasise the value of writing and sharing your work. A lot of the time, they explain, the information you've shared will benefit someone else. But if it doesn't, there's still much personal benefit to be had from the act of writing itself. So here we are.

That was a lot of preamble and I hope to get to the nitty gritty a little quicker in my future weeknotes, but we'll have to see how that pans out.

What went well

I published a blog post

I managed to get something published on the GOV.UK Design Notes blog. I wrote about how the GOV.UK Design System can work as part of an ecosystem with other government design resources. I always feel a sense of achievement from getting a blog post out. Documenting a big piece of work is very gratifying in itself, but for me, the feedback and conversations that follow are the most interesting and rewarding aspect.

I worked on some actual content

A huge chunk of my time as a content designer is spent researching, planning, reviewing and advising on content. I also do a lot of work on the Design System's contribution process, keeping an eye on how well it's working and how we can improve it. Add to that meetings to go to, events to attend and general admin, and it sometimes feels like I don't spend much time working directly on content.

This week I got stuck into some good old fashioned writing and editing, and it was like reuniting with a familiar old friend. I'm going to try and make some more time to do that in the next few weeks.

I had 3 proper lunch breaks

Perhaps this seems like a ridiculous thing to include here, but I am generally terrible at taking lunch breaks. It's no one's fault but mine, I just get so caught up in what I'm doing that most days I end up eating at my desk while working.

This week, I had 2 lunches with friends from work, and a third just wandering around Spitalfields market and enjoying the sunshine. It made such a difference to my mood and productivity in the afternoon, that I'm hell bent on doing more of it next week.

Other stuff I liked

  • Learning some HTML and CSS from Dave, an interaction designer on our team
  • Tuning into the NHS Digital show and tell where they showcased their new service manual, frontend toolkit, prototype kit and content standards
  • Having after work drinks and pizza with some of my team on Tuesday
  • A conversation at work where I realised out loud and on the spot that if I won the lottery, I'd still do my job out of choice
  • The return of the Sun (shine, not the tabloid)

What didn't go so well

Prioritisation and sticking to it

Being the only content designer in our team means it's often up to me to identify what content work is needed and recommend an order of priority. Deciding on and sticking to those priorities has been a challenge this week.

There's so much I'd like to do, with new ideas and opportunities arising all the time. I try to speak about our team's work regularly with our users, stakeholders and colleagues and peers outside of our team. That's a really important and enjoyable part of my job, but it does make it easier to get pulled off course by individual's needs and suggestions, and lose sight of the big picture.

Next week, I want to be much more mindful of this, asking myself "how much of a priority is this really?" and considering the importance of new tasks and goals against preexisting ones.

Lessons this week

  1. Weeknotes are fun and cathartic.
  2. I should make time to write.
  3. And read. Reading's good too.
  4. Lunch breaks are a worthy investment.
  5. Prioritisation should be based on the big picture, not single conversations.

And there we have it. That concludes my first weeknote. Thank you to anyone who might have taken the time to read this waffle, I'll be back with some more next week.

P.S. Dad, if you could consolidate your corrections and suggestions into one text message, I'd be really grateful. Love you ;)