Hiya, another week another weeknote. It doesn’t seem like long since last week, but time is at a gallop at the moment. I’m expecting it to be this way until the end of the year.
I’ve encountered this before; the year seems to go at a relatively normal speed, (well, faster than usual because I’m old now) and then the last three months of the year fly out the window. I’m basically hurtling headfirst down a hill into Christmas, but to be honest, I’ll be happy to get this year behind me.
Anyway, where are my manners? How are you? I hope you’re enjoying the autumnal weather and the return of jumpers. Man, I love jumpers.
I’m feeling a bit of pressure this week because people were very nice about my weeknotes last week, but this is counter-intuitive so, onwards, I guess…
Writing and being clear.
As I said, last week a few people were very lovely about my weeknotes. Dan told me I write well, which is a lovely thing to say and means a lot to me, so I’m banking it.
I also spent some time last week writing about writing. I wrote a post about structures and styles of weeknoting, which, when I headed into it I felt was going to be really straightforward but it took me on a journey through lots of people’s notes (a fun journey, but it took time to pull everything together).
It’s been popular though and a few people have started writing #weeknotes off the back of it, so that’s a win.
I looked back at my own writing and reread some of my old blogs which was a bit cringeworthy, but I can see how my writing has changed and got clearer over time. I’m feeling much more confident about being understood.
James had a lot of lovely things to say about my weeknotes and was very nice about them at One Team Gov breakfast on Wednesday. Jenny noted what he said on a post it note (because Jenny is excellent and a natural amplifier) and its now stuck above my desk at home.
However, in direct contradiction to what I’ve said above about being more confident about being clear, I have to say the weeknotes that I wrote last week weren’t as clear as I would have liked in one particular area.
I was talking about a very small incident that happened relating to weeknotes at work. What I had been trying to convey was a feeling I’ve been having about using up my energy, about caring about certain things, about an exasperation and a feeling of my energy being chipped away.
The thing happened, and I wrote about it, but I don’t think I meant what I said, or rather I expressed something I didn’t quite mean through not being clear.
I didn’t end last week with a tone that I felt was quite right. I closed my weeknotes with a comment about feeling ranty.
Feeling ranty was probably shorthand for not feeling as though I had been thoughtful enough or being uncertain whether I’d explained myself well enough. I guess that was a flag so I decided to test the subject at One Team Gov breakfast by adding my post-it into the mix of topics people wanted to discuss.
And this week my subject was voted up, so we talked about dealing with “low level cynicism” and it was useful to see how I hadn’t fully explained myself in my weeknotes by listening to the conversations and questions that took place.
I could see that I hadn’t been generous in my notes last week, and it immediately brought into focus that obviously, people have other priorities and think different things are more important.
That should be obvious to me. So why couldn’t I see that last week?
I think actually the problem is with my own energy levels. In retrospect I can see now that as I’m currently running near empty, this has caused my tolerances to be lowered. Instead of doing the generous thing, seeing the best in people and trying to understand different perspectives, I’ve been finding myself tired, getting inordinately angry about people’s actions or comments, feeling frustrated, and that, in turn, has sapped my energy even more.
That brings me on to…
Caring (too much?)
And more specifically, this interesting insight from Zuz ⚡️
So alongside the above, thinking about the things that have been frustrating me, about not expressing myself properly, and about the things I care about, some things have started to come into clearer focus.
At breakfast club someone asked me if it was my role to care so much about weeknotes, whether it should be my role to be the person using their energy to keep people positive or to do the explaining and caring, they questioned why it had been (or I felt it had been) my role to do that. In fact they were pretty clear that they thought it wasn’t my role.
I think it comes naturally to me to do the pastoral stuff that Zuz mentions in her tweet, I also think it’s important.
I believe that people work better when they are nurtured and even though psychological safety often gets scoffed at or dismissed, I believe that we have a duty of care to people to make sure they understand what is happening, to anticipate their needs and to ensure that they feel able to deal with situations that may arise.
But no, it’s not my job to. I’ve felt at times that people recognise my propensity for it, and encourage it without realising that it can be extraordinarily energy sapping and put a lot of responsibility on a single person’s shoulders.
There have been shadows of this throughout my recent weeknotes, like here:
There was also a suggestion that by doing this work I might be inadvertently covering up a deficit elsewhere. So as a final thought, what happens if I stop? (Other than feeling like I’ve let myself down and given in to apathy?)
I know I’m going to end these weeknotes feeling the same as last week, that this idea isn’t quite fully formed and might be misunderstood. But I guess thats why weeknotes, I’m working it through in my own head. Maybe next week these thoughts will have come together a bit more.
Dan and I conceived of a meeting of public service digital heroes after a chat we had a couple of weeks back. It was a really good opportunity to get out and meet some new people, or people I don’t see regularly.
I’d also been having a pretty grey day so it lifted my spirits a lot.
Working three days a week is becoming increasingly difficult as I still have at least 5 days a week’s worth of work.
My working pattern means I never feel on top of anything. Being out of the office Thursday afternoon and Friday, and having a full morning of meetings every Monday means that I always start Tuesday with a backlog of emails and things to do.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the days I really have to get down to things and I’m out a lot at meetings, so what time is there left?
This isn’t sustainable.
Finally, I started watching Killing Eve which is awesome, so if you’re a latecomer like me I recommend it — also the soundtrack is excellent.
And on that note:
See you next week!