Weeknotes S10 Ep14

The meltdown

It’s Thursday evening as I write this. I’m watching the programme on the BBC about the crazy hotel in Liverpool where everything is Instagram fishing. I started watching it the other week and it is exactly the kind of delicious nonsense that I love.

A room in The Shankley hotel, with gold crushed velvet bed covers, cold wallpaper, headboards and cushions, zebra carpet, gold tree lamps, trees in the corners, flowers hanging from the ceiling, oh, and a giraffe poking his head in (top left).

Basically the hotel is mad, gaudy, over the top and maximalist. I don’t know what you would call this in design terms. It reminds me of postmodernism, like deliberately impractical, nothing goes together or really makes sense, intentionally so.

Which kinda goes with the times I guess, like, contrived weirdness.

It did get me thinking though about social media — has anything else in modern history had such a big effect on our built environment? I mean I’m sure there is, but anything that’s had such a weird effect? I’m thinking Camille Walala zebra crossings, public artworks, murals, and bars designed solely for photo opportunities. Last week I saw an illustrator that had painted the front of their house in a lovely pattern. That multicoloured world seeping into the real world and then being filtered back into Instagram hyperreality. Anyway, perhaps it’s just me.

I called this episode the meltdown because that’s what finally happened today.

Gif: Classic Liz Lemon ugly cry.

Yep, several weeks of not feeling quite right. Several weeks of migraines, and not sleeping well, the world being on fire (at times literally), unfairness, injustice, generalised anxiety. I’ve also had a head cold this week.

The wonderful Jenny often reminds me that by other people’s measures I have a fair bit going on. I’m ashamed to say I usually dismiss her lovely reminders, not because I don’t agree, but because I’m well versed at being tough on myself, demanding more of myself, and very bad at being kind to myself.

Anyway, I finally crumpled today. Bursting into tears in my 1:1 with May-N. (I’m sorry May-N!)

Through talking it became clear that I’ve been bottling up a lot of frustrations and thinking I’m ok, it’s not sadness, or anger or anything else, it’s just maybe a general sense of unfulfillment. The word constrained keeps popping into my head. I feel constrained. Stuck. Unable to move. That might be because of COVID-19 where it’s been a literal thing, but it also might be various things not moving how I want them to at work.

I’m learning (slowly) that I need to feel useful, I need to have a project that feels meaningful. If I don’t feel like I’m adding value, I’m not content. I try and make work for myself, to do the thinking and the reading, but without the direction feel frustrated. Also, because that work isn’t aligned with other things that are going on, there’s no movement, no traction, which then contributes even more to not feeling useful.

Various delays with my day job have meant I’ve been in a kind of limbo for a while. When I had more work to do with the Suicide Prevention event I didn’t feel it as acutely because I had a side project to take my mind off it. But that’s delivered, there’s less work to do to complete, and I think I crashed a bit.

It hasn’t been a bad week though, not really, there have been some good bits.

I’ve been working with Maddie on a workshop for Local Gov Camp which has been good.

I’ve been building it in Google slides which has been an interesting constraint — it’s just not as good as Miro for mapping things together, but hopefully it works.

I also had the same crisis of confidence that I have when I’m writing presentations when I suddenly think “what in the hell am I doing? Everyone is going to think I’m mad” this one was combined with “am I actually a primary school teacher?”.

But anyway. I’ve learned enough to just get on with it and see what happens.

One of the slides from the upcoming workshop. Am I mad? I sometimes wonder if I might actually be mad.

I’ve been on an interview panel for one of our projects so it’s been good to learning more about some of the work going on in a different domain area.

We had a team retro and sprint planning which was useful.

Egle organised an opportunity for our three of our funded projects to come together and discuss what they’re working on. All three are creating different flavours of playbooks.

You can find out more about all of our funded COVID-19 projects here:

C-19 Challenge: Funded projects

It was actually really useful and confirmed to me some of the approach I think it’s important we take with my upcoming project and how we consider taxonomy and user entry points and journey though content. There’s always a risk with the content that it just mirrors existing structures and siloes rather than reflecting user needs.

I started wondering whether playbooks are being used as a useful shorthand for just:

“making sense of all this information we’ve suddenly got”

…especially when that information has been created during COVID-19 and probably at in a bit of a piecemeal or haphazard way.

A way of exerting some control and structure on things, when everything feels a bit chaotic. Which is fine, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but there’s a risk that in doing that we just pop things straight back into the boxes we understand rather than think about the content and needs in a new way.

It might be comforting to reinforce structure, but its also an opportunity to change. That might mean not being a playbook at all. I also worry that creating a new thing means another place to look for things, another place to go, and that this work should be incorporated into the ways of working and culture, so how do you do that?

So although I’m working on a playbook project, I’m seriously thinking about the sustainability of this kind of approach.

Thanks for that Dan Hon.

Anyway, if you want to work with me on this you still have a week to get applications in:

C-19 Challenge: Funded projects

And what else?

My little boy’s school hired a new assistant for his 1:1 support so he’s having support all day now — this is really good.

We sold our house and had an offer accepted on a new house, so fingers crossed for me on that one. (Yes this is exciting but also kinda terrifying so Woo but also uggggggh).

Here’s my trello reading list for this week: https://trello.com/b/BBJ726mr/progress-bookmarks

A screenshot of my trello board.

Here’s a great blog post by Katy that I thought was excellent:

C-19 Challenge: Funded projects

And that’s probably enough. See you next week!

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