The Braindump Review 2017

What have I learned from writing 53 weekly posts?

Total words: 45, 287
Total views: 1,511
Totals reads: 712

Most popular post: 102 views, 17 Reads
Braindump #38 — Rebellion, Web Chat & The Jiggly Elephant meets Real Giraffe

Least popular post: 2 views, 1 read
Braindump #15 — Talking Digital With Tenants, The Importance Of Play In Work and Librarians Go Rogue!

What was the point of the Braindump?

First and foremost, it was a way to get all the internal chatter out of my head and out onto a page. Pre-Braindump, I found that I was heading home on a Friday evening with my head buzzing with problems and ideas. That would continue throughout the weekend and it was making it difficult to switch off and be present outside of work hours.

Secondly, it was a mechanism to capture all the stuff that passed between my ears during the course of the week on the off chance that any of it was useful to me at a later date, or indeed anyone else.

Thirdly, as an advocate for working in the open, I wanted a way to practice the habit more regularly and more publicly.

Did it work?

In terms of my head being less crammed full of stuff.. definitely. The ritual of compiling the post every Friday helped declutter my brain and enabled me to park any thoughts about work until Monday morning.

A few people also mentioned that the links I compiled every week were really useful. On more than one occasion, they proved to be pretty handy for me too as I was able to dig back through them for various nuggets of information.

I would in no way say that I garnered a massive following with my weekly braindump exploits, but the posts did help me make connections with people who were facing similar challenges in different circumstances. That proved to be hugely valuable in finding people to trade ideas with.

Any unexpected benefits?

Writing about what I was doing, thinking and feeling each week really heightened awareness of my aims and objectives, energy levels and general mental health. When work was tough and progress was slow, I was often able to unpick the source of my consternation whilst writing about it.. or at the very least think about ways to approach the coming week in a different way to avoid a repeat performance.

Just developing the discipline of doing a weekly post for 50-odd weeks was also strangely satisfying. As someone who is strongly driven by curiosity, I sometimes find it hard to keep chipping away at the same thing without wandering off elsewhere. If nothing else, I proved to myself that I do have the ability to tackle larger goals through dogged perserverence.

Any unforeseen downsides?

Writing a post every Friday can be HARD. Especially when I was at the end of a particularly bruising week and all I really wanted to do was to curl up in a ball and disengage from the world. Paradoxically, those were also the weeks where the most value could be gleaned from a reflective post. I must admit, there were more than a few posts that got completed on a Monday.. sometimes Tuesday.. and very occasionally Friday the following week.

Not every work week makes for an amazingly informative read. Some weeks can be quite admin heavy and uninteresting. There was more than one occasion where I questioned my sanity when writing these things. Those were the weeks that self-doubt would creep in and start whispering in my ear..

“Why are you writing that?! Nobody cares! Booooooring!”

Mostly I learned to ignore the voice and just carry on. Even when I wasn’t massively happy with what I was posting. I found it important to just keep going. And you know what?.. the world didn’t end. Nobody got in touch to comment on my sh*tness.

Anything I’d do different?

When writing posts, I was always conscious of striking the balance between sharing detail and not sharing so much that I’m potentially exposing the work of others without their consent. I think I mostly hit the sweet spot in making things just specific enough to be useful.

I think I probably could’ve done a better job of purposefully sharing the posts with colleagues. I’m perhaps needlessly wary that pointing co-workers at posts could come across as a passive-aggressive act which implies.. “You should really read this so you can understand how you’re making my life difficult!!”. I don’t think I wrote anything in that tone (see previous paragraph) so I think I need to tackle this mindset head on next time around.

In Summary

  • Writing a weekly post proved to be really useful in understanding how work was going and course correcting if required.
  • It was a handy insight into my own energy levels and mental health. I learned to spot when a holiday was required.
  • It provided some serendipity in finding other people who were facing the similar challenges.
  • Reflective posts can be challenging to write, especially when things aren’t going quite so swimmingly.. or things are just really REALLY mundane.
  • The admin overhead for pulling posts together got slightly unwieldy towards the end. I don’t know how long I spent choosing the the perfect animated gif(s) for each post.. but I think it might be a worrying amount.

What’s next?

Following the last Braindump post in November, I decided to step away from it for a while to get a bit of distance from the whole thing. I wanted to remember what it was like *not* to write them each week.

Whilst I’ve not missed tapping away at my keyboard late on Friday evening, I have felt a bit rudderless in absence of doing these posts.

I’ve decided to resume doing something like the braindump in 2018, albeit in perhaps a different format which is less demanding to pull together, but still serves as a decent personal barometer.

I’m also thinking of breaking the curated links out into its own thing as it was reasonably handy. Again — minimal overhead would be the key to making it sustainable.

And lastly.. thanks for coming along for the ride!

One thing I’ve not really touched upon here is how lovely it was to get feedback (critical or otherwise) from people. I’ve realised that those feedback loops are hugely motivational for me as they provide an opportunity to learn and do better.

So — if you’ve ever commented on, clapped, highlighted or shared any of the Braindump posts, thanks a million! You kept me going. 🙂

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