Weeknote 5

I'm not here to sugar coat things, so I'll be truthful and say that this week has not been good.

I'm proud of what I've done, but I've done much too much and run myself totally into the ground. Here's weeknote 5.

What went well

Using the Prototype Kit to prototype the Prototype Kit

Efforts to improve the GOV.UK Prototype Kit documentation have continued this week and, in possibly the most meta piece of work I've done to date, it's involved using the Prototype Kit to prototype a new and improved version of the Kit.

Having not used the Prototype Kit before and not having much experience with code, the act of simultaneously learning to use it, whilst trying to write documentation that tells other people how to use it, has been challenging to say the least.

If I had some idea of the size and nature of the work needed, I totally underestimated the sheer cognitive effort required to carry it out.

With a hard deadline in place to ready the updates for research, I've ended up absorbing a lot of the impact of that misjudgement, by working through lunches, into the evenings and today, on my day off.

So why is this in the "what went well" section? Because even if the journey has been tough, there have been some big highlights. Working with Rosie (our researcher) and Debs (who's leading on the design work) has continued to be an absolute joy.

I'm ending the week with significantly more knowlegde and skills than I started it with. And although it's not been easy getting here, I'm genuinely really proud of what we've produced. It's not perfect, but it's better, and it's heading in a really exciting direction.

Looking back over the past year

I've been preparing for my end of year performance review on Monday. As part of that, I've been looking back over my diary and my emails from the past year to remind myself of the work I've done, and what I've achieved.

Performance reviews never seem to come at a convenient time, and preparing for them is something I'm always guilty of procrastinating with. But actually, it's been really gratifying to take stock of how much has happened in the past year.

I'm big on shouting about other people's achievements, but it's not often I take a moment to feel genuinely proud of myself, and today I did. So yeah, that was pretty nice.

Other stuff I liked

  • The offer of a cup of tea when I was in the deepest depths of stress and exhaustion earlier this week. Shamefully, I was so in the zone I can't even remember who it came from. But whoever it was, it really helped me. Thank you.
  • Paul Moran's latest weeknote, in which he charmingly brands my weeknotes "The Fifth Oreo". Maybe I'll make it a thing.

What didn’t go so well

Everything else

A dramatic and negative start, but that's how I'm feeling.

The past few weeks of overcommitting have finally caught up with me. I hate to let anyone down or go back on what I've promised, and the worst thing is that I've probably done that anyway now because I'm sure I've forgotten things amidst the chaos.

This week has been a total blur and an experience I don't want to repeat again in a very long time. I've been short-tempered, emotional, forgetful and simultaneously exhausted and wired.

To make matters worse, my Mum is visiting from Portugal this week. She moved out there last year, and after a nasty leg injury hasn't been able to fly, so I haven't seen her for 6 months. I've really missed her, and now she's going back tomorrow and I feel like I've barely spent any quality time with her. When I have seen her, I've been stressed, distracted and itching to get back to work.

As I've said before, this situation is totally self inflicted. But somehow, it's felt impossible to fix or escape from.

The silver lining is that I'm seeing her tomorrow for brunch before she leaves. So for tonight, I will wallow somewhere between self-pity and self-criticism, and tomorrow I will make good as best I can, with croissants, coffee and my fullest attention.

Lessons this week

  1. Taking a moment to recognise personal achievements is good for the soul.
  2. An offer of tea is an extremely powerful act of kindness.
  3. Productivity and helping others is all well and good but sometimes it's OK, essential even, to be selfish.