Weeknote 7

A mixed kind of weeknote, for a mixed kind of week.

What went well

Thinking about diversity and inclusion

On Wednesday I met Clara to talk about how we can improve diversity and inclusion within the Design System community.

Specifically, I'm thinking about:

  • our contributors
  • the working group
  • those who participate in our discussion spaces on Slack and GitHub

Clara is a designer and UCD trainer at GDS and she does a lot of work to ensure that people from marginalised and minority groups are able to participate safely and actively in our organistaion's training and events.

She helped me to identify some opportunities for improvement and gave me a fairly frank view of where and why we're currently falling short, which I really appreciated.

Cross-gov design community objectives announcement

One of the things Clara pointed out to me is that our contribution process relies heavily on individuals having enough time to contribute their work.

Without providing top-down support, we're relying on individuals to carve out time to share their work, and that's going to significantly affect the types and situations of people who can contribute.

So I couldn't have been happier to hear Lou's announcement that contributing to the Design System is now a performance objective for the design community.

Other things I liked

  • Yesenia's Twitter wisdom on presenting your work which was at once interesting, actionable and timely.
  • Our end of quarter team lunch at Dishoom followed by drinks at The Water Poet and some much needed silliness. Because sometimes it's good to laugh until your face hurts.
  • My fortnightly cognitive behavioural therapy session, which was badly needed this week. Having a regular check-in, a chance to self-assess with and little help to recalibrate is what keeps me going.
  • Reviewing Matt's slides on progressive web apps, that he's going to be presenting at the cross-gov design meetup on Tuesday. Matt is great at explaining technical stuff in a human way, and I can tell you now that if you're going to the meetup and you don't know anything about progressive web apps, you definitely will by the end of it.

What didn’t go so well

An inconvenient visit from anxiety

A thing I know but regularly forget is that keeping up with good habits and avoiding the bad ones is really important for me to stay mentally healthy and keep anxiety at bay.

The trouble is, when I do relax my self-care, my mind takes a while to catch up. I can go a few weeks or even months without doing my important steps before I start to feel bad, and by the time it starts to kick in, it take a fair bit of time and effort to get back on track.

For me, things I should be doing regularly are:

  • eating healthy
  • limiting my caffeine and alcohol intake
  • exercise, which I loathe, but I do need a little of
  • journalling
  • mindfulness and meditation
  • getting outside for a few minutes during the day, not just powering through at my desk
  • limiting time on my phone and social media

It's safe to say I've completely neglected pretty much everything on this list of late, and it's caught up with me. The honest truth is that sometimes I just want to get on with life without having to constantly think about these things.

Habitual self-care is life-changingly important, but it can also be hard, inconvenient and mega boring. But as I've learned before and I'm reminded of now, it's an investment worth making. A little boredom and inconvenience are far nicer to deal with than my current state of gloom, anxiety, crappy sleep and low self-esteem.

The good new is I've been here before—in fact I've been several thousand leagues south of here before—and I do know how to fix it. The other good news is that I have an amazing army of kind and accepting people to help me through this bad spell. You know who you are and I cannot thank you enough.

Lessons this week

  1. It's possible to be simultaneously really proud of stuff you've done, and also painfully aware of how much you still have to do.
  2. Disciplined self-care is a price worth paying to feel OK.
  3. I'm so lucky to have the family and friends I've got.