Weeknotes S1 E4 (2019 Edition)

I’m opening this week’s weeknotes with an unsual but important diversion from the norm.

I often wonder about whether to include non-work stuff in weeknotes. On the one hand, I had intended to keep this year’s weeknotes fairly focused and ramble-free in order to make them sustainable for a whole year. On the other hand, I’m a firm believer in attempting to bring my whole self to whatever I do and not hiding vulnerability.

Knowing precisely *what* to share openly in this context remains a challenge. I have arrived at two guiding principles from people far cleverer than I..

  1. Amy Edmonson (who identified the importance of psychological safety) advises that radical transparency is great, but transparency where it counts is what matters most.(*1)
  2. Brene Brown has some sage advice on avoiding oversharing. The ‘smash and grab’, in which you “smash through people’s social boundaries with intimate information, then grab whatever attention and energy you can get your hands on … In our social media world, it’s increasingly difficult to determine what’s a real attempt to connect and what’s performance.”(*2)

Mental health has been a hot topic this week, and talking openly about thoughts and feelings in reflective ponderings (ala weeknotes) seems like a useful way to remove stigma and make it normal. In that sense, it threads a thin line between transparency where it counts and not sharing anything too deeply personal that it might be considered oversharing.

I’d be interested in hearing other people’s views on this. Have you got thoughts about how personal your weeknotes can get?

I’m currently working on joining up two systems to avoid a load of manual entry. In trying to hide complexity from users, there’s quite a lot of moving parts behind the scenes. I’m working with a few different individuals in different teams plus at least one external contact to get this delivered.

It’s been a challenging block of work, not least because it’s been a bit stop/starty in nature due to delays elsewhere. And in stepping away from it intermittently to pick up other priorities, upon returning I found there was a lag whilst my brain refamiliarised itself with the intricacies of the challenge.

Programmers comment their code so that when they come back to it, they understand the thought pattern that created what they’re looking at. I make lots of notes, documentation and diagrams.. but they don’t yet feel like they have the immediacy of commented code. I need to have a think if there’s a better way to document my thought patterns.

Anyway, this week I dedicated two whole days of laser focus to get the damned thing done. And it worked really well. It did require saying ‘yes, but not right now’ to a lot.

It got me thinking (again) about the value of intent. What do I go to work intending to do. What stops me from following that intention? What can I do to protect my intention whilst also being able to respond to and help others?

I strongly suspect it’s down to well structured days and time boxing. Richard McLean’s book review on ‘It doesn’t have to be crazy to work here’ introduced me to the idea of ‘office hours’. To quote Richard’s post..

This is a period of time (say an hour a day, or an afternoon a week) when a person commits to being openly available to other people.

Obviously, your mileage will vary based on the purpose of your work and how responsive you have to be to other people. But for anyone doing anything that requires a moderate amount of deep focused work, it seems like it would at least be worth experimenting with it.

I’ve been reading…

I’ve been listening to…

*1 — I heard this on a podcast, I need to locate said podcast so I can link to it.

*2 — this quote is taken from this article: http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/when-vulnerability-backfires-20140613-3a2cy.html

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