Weeknotes, 13th January 2023

Making sense and making myself ill, my week in review.

This week I’ve been:

  • Sensemaking. I’m working on an intranet project with a ludicrously complex hierarchy and bureaucracy underpinning it. It feels like the client and I are trying to unpick a very tangled, knotted piece of twine so we can wind it back into a nice neat ball. We made some progress this week, but we’re not there yet. It’s good practice in tenacity and thoroughness. Sometimes it’s very, very tempting to pretend you haven’t seen a particular knot, or pretend it isn’t an issue. But asking annoying questions and pushing when the answers aren’t clear is a really important part of content work.
  • Interviewing. This was the first of three weeks packed with user and stakeholder interviews. I love doing them, but they can be intense and they’re always time-consuming. I’m trying to find efficiencies in my process as I go, and have been playing around with using a bit more automation between my calendar, Zoom, transcription tools like Otter and Grain, and my research repository in Dovetail. I’m also wondering if this is something AI could help with – I’ve found that ChapGPT isn’t bad at summarising complex information, so I want to see if it can speed up the process of drawing insights out of a transcript. Otter has a beta feature that promises to do this, but the examples I’ve seen so far are very poor.
  • Onboarding. I’m luck to have two excellent people helping me on projects at the moment, Lizzie Bruce and Emily Hill. Things are really busy at the moment and I like to bring other people onboard to help when I can. From a financial POV, I should just suck it up and use the boom times to build reserves for the inevitable bust. But that’s not the best thing for my clients, or for my wellbeing. Speaking of which…
  • Failing at resting. I started the week with a temperature, shivers, a dental issue, and felt generally grotty, so I took most of Tuesday off to rest. I should probably have taken the whole week off, because now it’s Friday and I’m sitting here writing this with tonsillitis and an ear infection, having had to cancel the dentist appointment I’ve waited weeks for, and feeling full of regret. I have an unhealthy tendency to work through illness, as I know a lot of self-employed folk do.

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