Weeknotes S5 Ep1

Hey there part-timer

Hello to you, person reading my weeknotes. How are you?

These weeknotes are a break with my usual structure and style because in truth I think I’m a bit blogged out for the moment, which feels strange. But with a new working pattern, childcare and general routine upheaval I’ve been struggling to find a way to do this and for it to feel right. I want to blog but I don’t have the full amount of energy to achieve it right now.

So this is a slightly stripped back view of my week, I hope it still makes sense.

Indiana Jones with thunder and lightening saying “Part time”

I’ve just finished my second week of part-time working which is pretty epic as the above gif hopefully confirms. I’m still trying to get my head around this routine, I’m working thee days in four which is a big change.

At the same time trying to learn all about a (huge) new department that I’ll be managing controls for.

These two things coming together at the same time are tough. I’m having to be pretty ruthless about what I concentrate efforts on.

Ron Weasley saying “She needs to sort out her priorities”

So for a while I plan to go back to the old school and actually list out my week (albeit briefly) with some more thought-out ideas at the end.

So without further ado…


  • In at 8.30am to be the first onto SOP [1] to approve expenses for one of my reports.
  • 1:1 with Antonia
  • Meeting with the Consulting Technical Architects about support to upcoming cases I’m working on
  • Senior Technology Advisors (STAs) Huddle [2] where we all get together to talk about what we did last week and what we are doing this week
  • Multidisciplinary team end of mission show and tell
  • 1:1 with James
  • Briefly saw Hattie on my way out the door at 12.30
  • Home on the train, arrive at 2.30pm. 30 minutes to myself, then pick up little one from school.
  • Wondering when I’ll actually get any work done. Another case has come in.
  • Picking up emails from mentees and to doing line management stuff in the evening because that stuff is important.
  • Approx 5 hours work, on my half day, I need to get better at this part-time thing.
  • I forgot to put together my Inspirations blog for September, this is the first time in 18 months I’ve forgotten to do that. I should find some time.
A bunny at a computer falling asleep


  • Arrived at another department’s offices at 8.30am with a coffee and hung out in their breakout area to catch up on emails / do some reading.
  • A meeting with the assurance team about Governance (a complicated and layer-y concoction which was quite a lot for an early Tuesday) [3]
  • Another meeting with the Assurance team about upcoming spend control cases. Colleagues Warren and Evans attended which was nice.
  • An email from Richard with a link to a great article about “Being Glue” this is serendipitous because I had been thinking of writing a very similar presentation for SDinGov but then bottled it. See more below.
  • Quick step five minutes up the road to meet Dan for a soul nourishing catch up about a number of things including the band Low, bands with two drummers and setting fire to guitars. Also “Being Glue”, blogging, creating a band of misfits who succeed against the odds, teapots and, well, you can imagine I guess [4]
  • Travel back to Whitechapel from Westminster picking up some lunch on the way
  • Reading, reading, reading. I have several spend control cases that require my review and questions now.
  • A brief catch up with Nimalan (my mentee) who has just joined GDS on a career development scheme to train as a developer with Makers Academy. He seems happy, I am really happy for him.
  • A meeting with Jyoti in the Government as a Platform (GaaP) team.
  • A meeting for engagement leads for my new department
  • Printed more reading for the train journey home and worked through the journey
  • In the evening turning those train notes into questions and responses for the aforementioned reading.
  • A couple of hours working in the evening until about 9.30pm, I need to get better at this part-time thing…
A kitten falling asleep


  • In at 8.30am for One Team Gov breakfast club. Good discussions, bagged a hoodie and some mental health stickers. Hattie and Jenny did some knitting, it was all good.
  • After breakfast a brief catch up with Glyn
  • A sneaky quick coffee with Hattie and a really lovely catch up about her new role
  • Back to Horse Guards Road to work, Nour came and sat with me in the breakout area with me so I had a working buddy. That was lovely as my life is pretty lonely and nomadic at the moment. I finalised a submission for the Minister to get to our approvals board.
  • Wondering when I’ll hear about the Future Leaders Scheme and whether I got an interview. Nobody has heard yet, phew.
  • Travelled to Waterloo for a meeting with a team who are looking for approval to spend, it felt good, interesting work and I was able to add value / ask useful questions. I like meetings like this where I get to puzzle complex things out. It was enjoyable, if tiring.
  • Straight to work from a cafe / bar where I would be meeting Luke, Olivia and Wendy for a drink later in the evening. It was quiet, empty and perfect for working with a delicious lemonade. Made my submission to the board.
  • Lovely catch ups with Luke, Olivia and Wendy. G&Ts, then home.
A lady making a jug of gin and tonic


  • Working from home and I didn’t sleep well so grateful not to have to leave the house at 7am.
  • Getting little one ready and taking him to school
  • A conference call with colleagues in one department about their spend control form
  • A conference call with a colleague in another department about a big piece of technology work they are going to be doing, for advice on how they go through controls
  • Another conference call with my assurance colleague in another department about the questions I’ve raised about a recently submitted control form
  • Context switching – ugh. My brain.
  • Wondering when I’ll get through all these emails? More cases have come in to review…
  • I have major FOMO about the weeknotes meetup in Bristol, but hopefully I’ll survive.
  • Finishing at 12.30 and that’s the end of my week. I’m listening to tunes, singing loudly (and badly) while writing these weeknotes — but that’s not work… is it?
Willow from Buffy looking unconvinced

So that’s what my week looked like. Writing it all down piece by piece makes it feel like it was a bit of a rush, and it felt like it. I’m hoping this new working pattern starts to bed in soon.

Over the past couple of weeks there have been a few themes emerging:


Yes. Shoulds. I’ve been getting a head full of shoulds recently:

  • I should write that Inspirations blog
  • I should write that blog about weeknotes structures
  • I should email so and so and check in with them
  • I should email my mentor
  • I should go to the doctors, and the dentist…
  • I should, I should, I should

Shoulds are tiring because they can easily become musts, and I really need to step back and say, I would like to, but I can’t right now, instead. Except maybe for the doctor and dentist.

A gif of an angry tooth. Yep, you read that correctly.


Three times in the last couple of weeks I’ve told three separate people that I trust them and why. This is a bit of an experiment for me in being more explicit and ‘giving’ trust rather than expecting people to earn it, thinking about Morgan’s excellent blog on the subject as well as my own commitment to Be Generous.

I’ve been thinking about how important it is to empower people by being explicit about my trust, what it’s based on, and how I believe it’ll be met.

It doesn’t necessarily come naturally and its easy to take trust as understood when it might not be, so I’m pushing myself to be clear, especially with people that I manage. I hope this builds into something great.


People keep calling me wise. I have no idea why. It’s awkward. I think this must mean that I’m old. Please don’t remind me that I’m old.

Something weird has happened and the numbers of people reading this blog has increased, and the number of people following me on Twitter has risen to what I can only describe to be a ludicrous number especially for someone who doesn’t really do or say anything particularly interesting.

This brings a weird kind of pressure that I hadn’t foreseen and is making me reconsider my relationship with social media and blogging slightly, which might be another reason for wanting to step back from it for a bit.

An owl with an eye twitch.


I helped pull together ideas for a talk at SDinGov with my colleague Steve. I had an idea and plonked a load of thoughts down which pretty much became the proposal.

Even though I did a lot of thinking on it I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to submit it myself, and Steve was leading so he tidied it and submitted. I should probably have more confidence in my ability to find things that might be interesting to other people. I hope we get a slot, hint hint @jukesie

I had another idea for a talk which was going to be called “So what is it that you do?”, “I’m a nobody” or something along those lines. This was going to be all about being a digital generalist and was a very similar idea to the “Being Glue” presentation I mentioned above.

I wanted to try to pick out some of the things that make good generalists and what the value of that as a role in and of itself is. I should have made time to think those ideas through some more but I had a crisis of confidence around the framing of it and how interested people would be about hearing me prattle on about not having a “real job”, so I didn’t [5][6]

Does anyone with some presentation writing experience fancy helping me out with some tips on how to get started with something like this?

[1] SOP is our internal finance and HR system which you will alternately hear called “Bloody SOP!” At GDS we don’t have direct access to this via our laptops (at the moment) which means a precarious experience with a desktop that might have several users throughout the day. Go to use it too late and someone might have crashed something or broken access. Mornings, I’ve found, are most reliable.

[2] That’s my job, but the job title doesn’t make much sense.

[3] layer-y is a word, honest.

[4] And work OBVS.

[5] Prattle is definitely an underused word. I intend to use it much more.

[6] Obviously I do have a real job in that I work and I get paid for the work I do. But an overarching theme of my working life is that the work I do tends to be within the gaps of what other people do, based on skills that are much harder to quantify. I don’t fit into a simple and straightforward box in the way that some practitioners do, e.g. I’m not a Product Manager, User Researcher or Developer — which is what I mean when I say “real jobs”


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