In 2017 I wrote 47 blog posts about my work week

The words aren’t special, but the journey was

Why?

  • Being as open as I can be in my work is important to me
  • Having an space to work through ideas and problems was really valuable
  • The writing could be cathartic, helping me to not carry negativity into the following week
  • The routine and habit was helpful, and the regular achievement and achieving the overall commitment was satisfying
  • It was a creative outlet. The perfect, French-chef-finger-kissing animated GIFs don’t curate themselves, you know
  • When life is lonely and uncertain, it is a genuine help to get some small validation from people on the internet

What?

Ryan not pictured. Also I look like the crazed, photobombing tramp
  • I wish that Medium stats offered a bit more insight on readership. Regardless, after six weeks or so I set myself a target level of at least 40 ‘reads’ for each #weeknotes episode, and only 5 of my 47 posts didn’t reach that. I know 40 isn’t big reading-things-on-the-internet numbers, but if I picture 40 people and imagine that they all read a thing that I wrote it’s not insignificant to me. It’s almost certainly more than the last internal work document I wrote.
  • Anecdotally, I am pretty sure that around half of my regular readership were people that I work with in the UK Parliament. Several people told me that they knew more about what I was doing than anybody else because of my regular blogging.
  • Again anecdotally, on more than one occasion people in the wider ‘public service digital’ space told me they knew more about what was going on in my department from my regular blogging than from any other channel.
  • A couple of people told me that I had inspired them to write, which was particularly special.
  • My best friend, who can really write, told me that my writing was very good. This was also special, particularly because my friends in general have no idea or interest in what I do for a living.
  • I often say to people that it’s important to test where the boundaries are in work. It is a good barometer of workplace culture. If your organisation says one of its values is ‘be open’, then be open. It’s a fuzzy line that’s difficult to navigate, and I did get to a place where I thought I was self-censoring — something I know other #weeknotes-ers have experienced that caused them to stop publishing. At times, I found it peverse to be pretty open about my state of mind, but not about everything that was happening in the office. Still, I nudged that boundary and I never got called out for being ‘too open’, and that reinforces my affinity for where I work.
  • I did have it pointed out to me that people might understand what I’d written in a different way to how it was intended, and the general responsibility of avoiding representing others views when they have no right of reply. That was helpful feedback.
  • Through the section of my #weeknotes where I worked through a problem I realised there was a longer blog post that’s about tapas or something to write, so I did that.
  • I learned how to make a podcast and I made a podcast. It wasn’t very good, content-wise, because I was mostly reading out my #weeknotes from the week before. Still, I’ve got a pretty good voice if you want to relax.
  • Through making a podcast, I wrote and recorded 8 original theme tunes which is a totally normal thing to do. This gave me a reason to get various bits of musical equipment I haven’t used in years out of boxes and drawers and it was extremely rewarding.
  • Through making 8 original theme tunes for my #weeknotes podcast I realised I could revisit my idea to make theme tunes for work in general, so I did that, twice (so far).
  • Through making theme tunes for work in general I realised there was an extended metaphor for building digital services to be written about, so I did that. I really like that blog post.

The next journey?

“hey I’ve been reading your #weeknotes and you are so great. Have a million pounds you can start on Monday as Director of Data and Search for the United Nations if you like”

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Dan Barrett

Head of Data Science at Citizens Advice. These are my personal thoughts on work.