Weeknotes S9 EP15

I will, I am, I have.

[Gif] Writing says Past, Present, Future and goes blurry.

I wasn’t sure if I would write this week because a lot of the things that have been going on are things that I can’t really talk about; either because they relate to the work we are doing for COVID-19, or because they reflect people and situations that I don’t want to go into detail about right now.

But then I realised that I’m into EP15, which makes it an extraordinarily long one for me (I usually aim for 10 episodes per series).

Series 9 was supposed to cover most of my time in the NLC. Billy was supposed to return to work this week, which would have meant that I was winding down and handing over.

But he has decided to extend his parental leave which means I’ll be in this role for a couple of months longer. But it’s probably still a good opportunity to stop and take stock, especially as I’ve been feeling on the edge of burning out this week and I probably need a good break, and much more time in the hammock.

So, on that basis, this will be the Series Finalé and consist of some weeknotes, some retro and some general thinking about my time at NLC so far. Here goes!

[Gif] A flickery screen reads “the end”

What happened this week (Weeknotes)

  • The “tiny cards” and small gifts I’d sent started to land on people’s doorsteps which made me very happy. The mail is slow, and I was impatient, but they mostly got there in the end.

  • Lauren included me in a piece she’d written about the importance of working in the open which is cool (below)

Why you should work in the open and how to do it

  • I had a lovely catch up with Dan which reminded me how lovely, supportive and thoughtful he is and how I have missed support from all of my wonderful public sector heroes like Louise, Alex, Hattie and many more. One of the things about this lockdown is how it can separate people that you value and who keep you grounded and honest, even if you don’t see them all that often, and I’ve found that a very hard thing to deal with this week because those people help me to be better.
  • I’ve beaten myself up for not finding any time to do things that are important to me. The extra little bits of work which aren’t work but also kinda are, but that help other people. I’ve turned down offers from people to catch up because I don’t have any hours in my day or any time where I’m alone. I’ve been sat on things for Jenny Streeter and Nour that I said I would do and I want to do. I just can’t seem to get round to doing them. If I’ve said I will do something for you, and haven’t, I’m sorry. I don’t like to be that person.
[Gif] A little girl tells someone “Other people always let you down”
  • I haven’t been able to make One Team Gov breakfasts lately as we have a stand up at 9am. Being there for only 30 minutes just as it starts to kick off is good but not good enough, and it’s getting me down a bit.
  • My mornings are full of meetings, this week I’ve had 5–8 every morning from 9–12, and, as I look after my little boy in the afternoons this has meant that I’ve not been able to get very basic things finished, which is frustrating.

  • I’ve tried really hard not to work in the evenings this week because I’ve been exhausted. By Thursday afternoon I was crying at the kitchen table while the little man ate mini cheddars. I’ve been tired, frustrated and beating myself up for things that are beyond my control. Beating myself up for not being generous, and being too negative. I’ve been feeling much too negative, and I’ve been trying really hard not to. I don’t want to be that person either.

Anyway, onwards!

Let’s talk about S9 then

I’ve spoken a little bit to some people that my time at NLC so far broadly falls into the following:

December — Handover with Billy, Christmas.

January — Back to work, have forgotten everything. Gearing up for the National Leadership Forum, lots of reactive work. Pace.

February — Digital strategy but a digital team who are ramping down so throughput is lower.

March — Digital team start to get into a cadence and throughput increases but we are supposed to be ramping down ahead of contract end at the end of March. Procurements and then BAM! “Stay Home, Save Lives”

Apil — Still staying home, still a bit mad, but maybe levelling out. Some people are finding this easier, some people seem to be finding it harder.

I wondered if looking at stats and words I used at each of these times might give me a better sense of this and tell me if it is right. So lets see.


It looks like January was a productive month with 6 blog posts in total.

I created this wordcloud using the content of the four weeknotes I wrote in January. This doesn’t include two other posts I published (about what I was doing in 2009 and The Tiger Who Came to Tea).

A wordcloud of the most popular words in my January weeknotes.

I’m not sure what this tells us really, but the words that jump out at me are: ‘try’, ‘can’, ‘I’ll’, ‘ideas’ and (very small) ‘vision’.

I guess it is probably right that I was centring myself and my experience at that point as I tried to get to grips with running the role on my own. I also feel like those words are hopeful — aiming for confident — which is good because I didn’t feel that way at the time.

Perhaps I was trying to talk myself round with weeknotes?! Ha.

A screenshot of my Medium stats for January

I averaged 14.75 “fans” (people registered with Medium who took the time to clap) and 167 “reads” per weeknote in January. This may have been increased by the two other blogs I posted being more popular than lots of other things I write.

I guess there’s a lesson here, capitalise on the popularity of a lovable children’s character to boost your weeknotes stats 😉


I wrote another 6 blog posts in February, 4 weeknotes (the extra day for the leap year pushed the last one in there) and two other posts.

The other posts I wrore were one about Wallpaper (which I thought would be much more popular), and one about One Team Gov’s blog posting habits (complete with graphs!).

Again the wordcloud only looks at the content of my 4 weeknotes.

A wordcloud of the most popular words in my February weeknotes.

I’m still right in the centre (but these are my weeknotes) the things that leap out at me this time are: ‘team’, ‘like’, ‘sure’, and ‘now’. There’s also ‘career’ and ‘job’ in there which is interesting.

I guess February is when I started poking my head above the water and looking more outwardly. I feel like this shows I was thinking more about what I was achieving rather than just responding to issues, and thinking about how to work better with other people, which is good.

A screenshot of my Medium stats for February

I averaged 15 fans in February, and 71 reads — slightly more than January — which is a surprise. I can only think that this is the “long tail” of the Tiger Who Came to Tea (LOL) as people still read and shared that post a lot in February. Also, I’ve just remembered that I took part in an Apolitical online course in February talking about meetings, it was attended by a lot of people and that might have also lifted this slightly.

However “fans” remain pretty constant, but I think this is a reflection on the current weeknotes community.


Only three weeknotes in March because I skipped a week and then wrote an extra long one. This was because I had a week of family illness and then an OMFG the country is shutting down moment part way through. So no other blog posts as I loose all of my spare time and have to work and look after my little one.

This wordcloud is made up of words from those three post.

A wordcloud of the most popular words in my March weeknotes.

The things that jump out this time are: ‘time’, ‘work’, ‘team’, ‘know’. There are also a few interesting smaller ones; ‘life’ and ‘serious’.

Yeah mate, life just got serious.

It’s really interesting how January was I’m and I’ll. February was I’m and March is I’ve. That shows a progression right?

I’ll > I’m > I’ve

I will > I am > I have

Future > present > past

Maybe I’m reading too much into it but, wow. I like that a lot.

A screenshot of my Medium stats for March

An average of 11.6 “fans” and 41.3 reads of these weeknotes. It might be because one was a bumper edition as I attended SDinGov, and the other covered 2 weeks. These were 12 and 10 minutes respectively, which might have put people off.

If you take the least reads for March (33), and the most reads for February (89) that’s only 37% of the number of reads. Maybe the series went on too long and I should have stopped at 10 episodes as this is a large drop off.

Maybe, when you publish more you get more visitors. There’s probably something in this.

Or maybe people just had other things on their mind in March.


We’re still in April so it’s a bit soon to tell but I don’t plan to write anything more this month. When I’ve published this post that will make it 3 weeknotes in total.

The wordcloud below represents the two weeknotes and the weeknotes section that I’ve written above.

We’re back at I’m so maybe that means I’m in the present again. Glaring things that jump out are time, now, need. Yes. That makes a lot of sense. I need more time, and I never have any anymore.

But also ‘hope’, and ‘felt’ — something reflective and looking to the future?

‘Can’ — something confident?

And very small — ‘risk’, ‘fair’ and ‘anxiety’.

So anyway

What does this tell us? Well either a lot or nothing at all.

Series 9 saw an average of 55.5 reads (and 12.8 “fans”) across 14 posts.

In Series 8 this was 38 (and 8 “fans”) across 5 episodes.

In Series 7 this was 37 (and 11 “fans”) across 10 episodes.

In Series 6 this was 43 (and 13 “fans”) across 10 episodes.

So I guess that’s an upturn in readership, which is interesting because it hasn’t felt that way, and I hadn’t expected it given a downward trend over the past three series.

I hope it shows that people are still reading what I write, it definitely feels as though the other things I am doing (this year GovCamp, Apolitical, and SDinGov) are having some effect.

Whatever the reason, I’m still really grateful for weeknotes and for anyone that reads them and gets in touch. I hope that by sharing things like this in the open it demystifies writing and shows over and above everything else, the value of weeknotes for personal reflection.

For small, supportive, community — not broadcasting and platforming.

And I hope you might give it a try. Byeeeee!

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