Weeknotes 2/2022

The one where I recover from covid

Weeknotes 2/2022
Fog and trees. Photo from Aditya Chinchure on unsplash

I’ve recently starting feeling like myself again after our whole family came down with covid. I’m pretty hardy when it comes to illness — my children bring home a lot after all — so I tend to just get on with things even when I’m feeling poorly. But I found covid hard to cope with mentally. I had night sweats and trouble sleeping, which lead to high anxiety and brain fog in the day. I was overwhelmed and I didn’t cope well.

I saw this brilliant idea on twitter of visually representing your childcare situation using wordle and, well, here’s my January — no wonder I felt like I was drowning

But things are mostly back to normal and I’m hoping for a more manageable February.

What went well:

  • I hosted our first monthly Design Community meetup of the year and it went really well. I also ran a survey and retro afterwards and we’ve identified a bunch of small but do-able improvements that we’re going to make (such as calling it the Design Community instead of the HCD community going forward, which I always liked better but didn’t want to seem like I was changing what the previous organizers had done just for my personal preference.)
  • I can’t believe I managed it with everything that happened in January but I kept up my annual tradition of doing yoga every day for the whole month.
  • I’ve been working closely with a couple of content designers on a web presence for the service I work on and it’s super exciting and energizing and also just really nice to be working with other “designy” people as I’m usually the only one on my team.

What I struggled with

  • Covid brain fog … the struggle is real.
  • As we approach a point where we will be launching something into the world, I find myself feeling a lot of trepidation for the approval processes we’re going to have to go through. I work in an area where agile and managed risk taking and working in the open are the standard so I thought this would be easy but it sounds like many different groups and people want to have “approval” rights over what we do. It’s disempowering to know our team is not trusted to launch a very basic, niche government website that is based on evidence and user needs, without having to ask permission. Even more frightening is wondering if stakeholder wants will take priority over user needs. If that happens it will feel like my fault.
  • BC government sent out their employee survey (which they only run every two years) and as someone who is always thinking about how we can improve experiences, I had a lot to say. Infuriatingly, they only give space for employees to provide one comment (with a character limit.) My manager and leaders are very open and receptive to feedback but I’m really struggling with this perception the HR group as a whole is unwilling to open up a meaningful dialogue with employees. What culture does that build for the people who work here? At GDS I always felt like there was ways to actively question employment policies and structures, and even if those conversations went nowhere at least there was a sense that our HR team cared and listened.
  • Struggling with Microsoft, as per usual.

What inspired me

  • I’m slightly obsessed with this twitter thread from Laura Yarrow on being a “trusted agitator” — it’s something I think about a lot and try to embody in my work so having it put into words is so helpful and validating
  • I spent too much time reading about the anti-mandate occupation that is happening in Ottawa right now (very close to where we lived in the city) and had to stop due to feeling mental burnout but I found this article really helpful and inspiring.
  • Another great article from Paul Craig on what enterprise means in government and why we need to stop seeing it as our end goal — this really resonated with me.

Reading, watching, listening

  • The Sentence by Louise Erdrich — great novel on indigenous culture, systemic racism, covid and lots of other issues. I found it lagged a bit in the middle but I’m glad I stuck with it. Such beautiful characters and relationships.
  • Feeling kind of embarrassed to admit this one but I watched all of And Just Like That — and maybe it’s an unpopular opinion but I liked it (ish). Some of the attempts to be woke and relevant were a bit cringe, and they brushed over a lot of issues way too carelessly (eg Miranda’s drinking) but I thought it was fun and funny and sweet.
  • Walking for me is podcast time so being home sick with kids and covid, and enjoying the holidays before that, meant I fell behind on a lot of podcasts. The Moth is one of my all-time favourites and I blasted through quite a few stories this week.