Weeknotes S2 E3 (2019 Edition)

Shwmae! Hello! Happy Friday!

I’m on the home straight for my departure from Cadwyn with just 4 working days left. I’ve spent a lot of this week doing fairly mundane but important things like ensuring I’m not the only admin/owner of the various systems and services we use as a team, plus tying up loose ends so that things are neat and tidy for the next owner. I think I’m about done on that front.

Next week I need to do a decent purge of my email to ensure I’ve not accidentally siloed any important information in my mailbox. As a general rule of thumb, I’ve always tried NOT to use my email as storage, so I’m hoping there’s minimal work required.

Also — I have to remember NOT to come to work on Monday as it’s a bank holiday. As I sometimes leave the house without seeing any members of my family, there’s a real danger that I will autopilot my way to work, all the while wondering why it’s curiously more quiet than normal.

If I had to pluck a theme from the week, it’s probably something to do with the importance of defining boundaries *with* people around work. It started with an article about how Slack is killing people’s productivity and continued with a podcast about how some people thrive as remote workers whilst others find it difficult (and vice versa).

It’s often struck me that perhaps we need to be a little more intentional about the design of our workplaces and workflows, and conduct regular sanity checks to ensure fitness for purpose to account for changing conditions and/or new team members. It tends to slip down the pecking order when there’s lots of other competing priorities, but probably time well invested as it’s the foundation upon which everything else gets done.

I don’t think there’s a singular ‘best practice’ solution to this (if there was I’d be embarking on a lucrative book tour right about now) because everyone has different preferences when it comes to work, and those preferences perhaps shift and change depending on the context of your life and any responsibilities you may have. Which is why (regularly re-?)designing those boundaries *with* coworkers is perhaps of utmost important. The boundaries are there not as punitive constraints, but to enable everyone to harmoniously (and sustainably?) do the best work they can do.

Related to that, I’ve also been reading some ‘productivity’ related books this week. Much of it is of course about tweaking your own behaviours. And from a viewpoint that each of us should feel we have the agency to be the change we want to see in the world, this makes a lot of sense. Where it started rubbing me up the wrong way were behaviours that would probably have an adverse effect on the people around you.

Paraphrasing considerably, but one passage described social interaction as a low value activity that would lead to lack of promotion and frustration. Another passage spoke about the virtues of single mindedly grinding toward your goals and that only ‘losers’ seek tension relieving activity as a means of distraction from drudgery.

It all felt a bit.. macho, joyless, selfish and rooted in a scarcity mindset, and perhaps that’s because this particular book is written in 2006. It has echos of the ‘techbro-alpha-male-hustle-90-hour-work-week’ stuff I see knocking around the startup world that makes me grit my teeth, if only because it’s packaged as the singular route to success for everyone.

Working hard and being kind & considerate of others are (IMHO) not mutually exclusive activities. I’d like think the future of work is one is which we can all strive to do our very best work AND be social, open, inclusive and generous and feel totally okay about that.

/rant deactivated

Hope you enjoy your bonus 3 day weekend. See you next Friday! 🙂

I’ve been consuming…

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