Weeknote 12

After a 2-week break from the weeknotes (a holiday and then a week of just not jolly well feeling like it), this is a pretty cheery one to come back with.

What went well

Cross-government caseworking meetup

On Wednesday, I went to a cross-government caseworking meetup run by Chris Taylor.

It was really interesting for me—caseworking systems are pretty untrodden territory. It was good to hear people sharing common challenges and ideas about how to overcome them. Providing opportunities to get together and do this is something I think the Gov Design community does really well.

The afternoon was run in the style of an unconference, with attendees pitching ideas for smaller breakout sessions. I ended up facilitating a session on how the GOV.UK Design System could better support those designing caseworking systems.

As well as discussing the specific needs of caseworking system users, we also talked more generally about ways of making it easier to collaborate across departments and contribute to the Design System which, if it’s not apparent, is a subject pretty close to my heart.

I got some nice feedback about my facilitation which was really encouraging since I had felt a bit out of my depth.

I wrote a thread on Twitter summarising some of the things I learned from the day, which seems to have resonated with people.

Getting the ethnic groups pattern ready to review

This week, I’ve been focusing on getting the pattern for Asking users for ethnic groups ready for review by the Design System working group.

Sending it off today brings us to the close—or a pause at least—of a good few months of hard work, trying to get it right.

The pattern is a contribution from Frankie and Nadia from the Race Disparity Unit, and seeing the sheer amount of effort and care they’ve poured into it—not to mention the perseverance required—makes me really proud of the community we’re building.

A big well done to both of them.

Other things I liked

  • I’ve started meditating in the mornings before work on the train using the Calm app—I’ve genuinely noticed a significant improvement in my stress levels and mood throughout the day. On Tuesday, it even kept me relatively chilled through a 45 minute tube delay, and I can’t think of a much better reason to continue than that.
  • I’ve gone back to making daily to-do lists—I started the week with a master list of all the things I wanted to achieve, both work related and personal, and used this to generate a rough plan for each day. It’s definitely made me feel more productive. I feel like I’ve been largely able to control the week, and not have the week control me. Which was nice.
  • I’ve decided to quit drinking for the whole of May, and you know what? It’s going OK. There are moments where I feel kind of bored, but learning that I can happily socialise without a glass of wine has been good. And not having a hangover for a couple of weeks has been great.
  • We’ve had a new tech writer, Mark, join us in the past few weeks. I’ve been working with him and the team to do a bit of content planning, which becomes suddenly much more necessary when there’s, y’know, more than one of you. It’s been really good because it’s forced me to work on one of my personal goals, to focus not on doing everything myself, but empowering others and making processes more sustainable.
  • Drinks to celebrate Chris’s new role as Head of Interaction Design in Home Office, the caseworking meetup and our regular Design Systems call yesterday afternoon means I’ve seen a fair bit of what I think of as the “cross-government Design System family” this week. Since starting this job a bit over 2 years ago, I’ve felt so welcomed, supported and encouraged by my colleagues in GDS, but also outside of it. This isn’t something I take for granted—actually it’s probably the thing I love most about this job—and it’s been good to see so many of these faces in a short space of time. Aaron, Adam, Alice, Chris, Frankie, Jen, Karwai, Mike and Sara, it was great to see you :) Thanks for being awesome.

What didn’t go so well

Wishing I’d done a bit more

Just feeling the occasional small pang of guilt about the:

  • articles I didn’t write
  • articles I didn’t read
  • emails I didn’t send

But that’s just life, right?

Lessons this week

  1. Caseworking systems are hard.
  2. Sharing challenges and solutions is important.
  3. Working with the cross-government community makes me happy and proud.
  4. Meditating before work makes me a nicer person.
  5. No matter what I do, I'll always want to do a bit more than I did.