How Weeknotes can Save Your Life

How Weeknotes can Save Your Life

Sam posted a nice little round up on the Why of Weeknotes which sums up a lot of my own experience, and is worth a read if you’re curious about starting up a diary*. In true 90s blogosphere style, I wanted to use my own weeknotes blog to add something to the discourse.

After weeknoting 16 weeks of my hectic, kid- and client-fuelled life, there are some basic guidelines I’ve set myself in order to be able to keep going:

  1. Quickly remembering what you did is essential – take notes, use a calendar, keep a done list. When you come to publishing, you don’t want to stumble at the first block.
  2. Don’t just find the time to write up weeknotes – find the right times. For me, that’s lunch, the commute home, and scraps of time at the weekend if needed. I find it too difficult to justify time at work, and have too much on outside work to spend huge blocks on my writing.
  3. Allow yourself time to experiment – part of the process is to decide what’s “useful” to you in the process, and simultaneously what you’re happy with publishing out to other, real life people (or “readers”). The first is the important one, but you’ll never shake yourself free of the others. Use each week’s notes as a chance to try out focuses, formats, styles, etc.

All of which is to say, weeknotes takes up valuable time, but shouldn’t take up more time than you find useful, and that gives you value back. If you’re methodically writing down what you did and hitting “Publish” and not really enjoying it, then you’re wasting your time. Do it differently, or stop.

Which is all to say one, extra big thing, which I think was missed in the original list. Weeknotes can play a big part in breaking down the border between work and life.

By thinking about work in non-work time, I find I take it more seriously from a personal, almost external perspective. It’s my own life reflecting on my professional life. For most people, the former is more important – why work if it’s not making you happy in general? Weeknotes are that 1:1 with yourself, and the braver you are in writing down what you feel, the more you’ll want to change what you do.

I suppose this is why it wouldn’t work (ho-ho) to write weeknotes at work – it would be a process filled with professional thoughts, and all the organisational structure and aims that pervade the (physical or virtual) workplace. To reflect properly, we have to be free of all that.

Freeing ourselves from the work-in-work-hours mentality is a big step. Questioning our work selves is scary, strange, and potentially very disruptive, both to ourselves and to the organisations we work for. It can also be therapeutic, positive, clarifying and insightful. Like my relationship with DIY, when it goes well it’s great, but when things are tough, it feels like the end of everything.

But then, if it wasn’t so emotional, then writing weeknotes wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun.

* I’ve never kept a diary. Do diary writers get similar benefits?