I’ve been known to lurk outside people’s proverbial week (or any) note-windows. Be it my inner psychologist, journalist, or writer, but being allowed a peek into someone’s mind is about as internet perk as it gets for me.

But I haven’t been playing fair. Call me the note sharing fairy, cos while I come to mentally collect a snapshot of what you write in yours, I’m sure as heck not going to leave mine behind for anyone to play voyeur with.

via GIPHY

A series of topic-related synchronicities later, I’ve decided to stop being a hypocrite and put my pen where my eyes have been. Unpacking why I’d (still) rather climb a mountain backward than making a Note to Self public is definitely going on the to-think list. My only consolation is that this is 2019’s worldwide web and no one actually reads what you write anymore. Actual echo chamber with the illusion of an audience, here I come. The brain is a strange customer that’s satisfied ever so bizarrely.

Why I will (try not to) spend a disproportionate amount of time on structuring

One of the reasons I’ve always been fascinated by any ongoing public record-keeping project is people’s willingness to start off with an MVP and keep on versioning up forever and ever and ever. There never seems to be a point at which they reach an official launch point. Instead, they just keep letting it grow and change right alongside them.

If this was an analogy for life, I’d totally get it. As it happens, I’m a recovering (crippling) perfectionist. I break out in a cold (now slightly more lukewarm) sweat at the thought of allowing anyone to lay eyes on something before it’s ready. Hence, says my inner therapist, I clearly need to weeknote out in the open.

So my first-ever open access entry also serves as a disclaimer to self. While I can (and probably will) devote more hours than I need to or should to getting structure just right, there’s no Goldilocks Quotient here.

I know the structure that works in the privacy of my own notebook won’t work on Medium (I plan on adding mine to the Weeknot.es community over there). My current system is highly customised and very specific to what I need to jot down for personal and professional growth, and how I’d like to see that organised. While I’ll happily rework it for the Medium medium (does anyone else experience grammar-guilt when they use the word “medium” on Medium?), it’ll keep on evolving. Just like my original system did and still does.

(If this paragraph ends up being the longest one in this post, I rest my case.)

How I’m structuring my weeknotes

Since this is a scary project (some people bungee jump, I publish my weekly reflections — my adrenal glands are weird like that), I’m doing an Austin Kleon and stealing like an artist. There aren’t actually all that many people publishing theirs online. If there’s anyone who understands why, you’re reading her. Nonetheless, there are a small bunch of people brave enough to play open house, so I lurked one last time to see how they do it.

Image courtesy of http://www.briancook.net/

When to weeknote

Buster Benson does his at the start of the week. I like that as a type of crossover productivity tool. Cos philosophising with my to-do list is usually the only way to get them all done, anyway. I like the simplicity of his set-up, comprising a brief high-level summary of the past week accompanied by only two questions:

  • How the previous week went
  • This week will be good if…

But I’m a loquacious girl who welcomes death by complexity. Investing time at the end of each week to extrapolate what I did, why I did it, and how that worked out for me, is my lifeblood. And since what I do each week is All The Things, I’ll need a bigger sheet of blog paper.

Since I work from home and work can be any day or no day, Sunday is an arbitrary day for me to use as the end of the workweek. But I’ve experimented with every other day and Sunday seems to just be a natural fit for weekly reflection. Years of conditioning coupled with hard copy diaries that decide for you are powerful incentives here.

Plus, it might just be my imagination (my imagination, mind you, is everything), but a Sunday day just *feels* different. Even though I live in a foreign country surrounded by people who work pretty much seven days a week or not at all. So it’s not like there’s a tangible weekend vibe happening in the neighbourhood. All things considered, I’ll be sticking to my usual schedule.

What to weeknote

The week as/in song

Dan Barrett subtitles each weeknote with a theme song. That reminded me of the love affair I had with representing life events using song titles back when I was without child and thus had free time. No magic time portal has since opened ensuring that I’ll have open calendar slots during which to choose a song title that’ll encapsulate 10,080 minutes into an average of four words. But I’m nothing if not optimistic. And naïve. It’s the birth town of all this charm I’m carrying around.

What kind of week it was

What I liked about Buster’s weeknotes is his “Week of the X” categorisation. I’m not sure what the thinking behind it is, but it looks to be only a unique-ish identifier in that unless he’s planning on reusing the same emojis a year later, he’ll run out of icons eventually. That got me thinking.

Buster’s zoological classification system

Though I have a general plan of what a week might look like, my weeks have a life of their own. They unfold organically. Some weeks are slow starters, others never pick up speed, while others race around the Olympic track. It’s always fun to reflect on the week and decide where it slots into, pace-wise.

But the way I’ve done it so far has been far too serious and KPIs-style. There are weeks when I’m almost hesitant to sit down for a meeting with myself because I can already feel the cold hard judgement staring back at me.

“I know you didn’t finish this or even start that … but what do you mean you didn’t finish this or start that? What’s your revised deadline, please? I need a ten-point action plan plus a Gantt chart to be sure you’ll make good on this. On my desk. By 5pm today.”

Image courtesy of http://theawkwardyeti.com/

A major part of my productivity journey is learning to be kinder to myself. With a history of burnout, I’ve learned the hard way that being happy with where I’m at is far more important than where I’m at.

Since I’ve been avoiding my own weekly performance appraisal for the past two weeks, it’s time to feed that sunken cost system through the paper shredder and adopt me some animal friends!

  • Week of the Unicorn 🦄
  • Week of the Owl 🦉
  • Week of the Chick 🐣
  • Week of the Eagle 🦅
  • Week of the Butterfly 🦋
  • Week of the Bee 🐝
  • Week of the Rhinoceros 🦏
  • Week of the Bull 🐃
  • Week of the Snail 🐌
  • Week of the Crab 🦀

I’ll do a follow-up post on what these qualifiers mean (and keep adding to that list as new ones show up). For now, this bunch just about sums up my recent weekly themes.

Why it was that kind of week

I’ve always been in the Matt Webb camp with weekly reflection. Anything goes. One week it might be as lengthy as a longish novella, and the next so short it’ll put Twitter minimalists to shame.

I have a daily journal practice that I’ve kept up for years. Something that resembles Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages. Yet until I started doing weekly review and reflect sessions, I hardly ever went back to daily entries to scoop the cream off the top. Since a journal entry can be as interesting as pondering a new theory or as mind-numbingly boring as reminding myself to do the laundry, it’s important to sift through the pay dirt and extract the motherlode. That’s Part One of my weeknotes.

Part Two is meta. With a snapshot of my week-in-days in hand, I can then ask myself:

  • Did the week live up to my expectations?
  • How did this make me feel? *
  • What went well?
  • What sure as hell didn’t?
  • What do I keep and what do I eliminate right here, right now?
  • What did I learn?

* Couch therapy is dead, long live couch therapy

I won’t be going my usual route. My usual route is in fact way more structured than the sample extract above. I’ve been known to drill down as deep as interrogating each individual item on my to-do list. But I also won’t turn coattails and start poetically free-falling the way Tom Armitage does. I need structure, or I end up 7 hours later drunk on 10,000 open tabs googling the molecular structure of suitcase dust and no idea how I got there.

The mishmash that is Phil Gyford’s stuff is similar to mine. Something of everything: What I did, what I thought, what I saw. Only, mine has headings, always. Headings are god. How else do you even scan? Or keep your OCD at bay? Asking for a friend.

Input/output log

The point of it all – broadly speaking – is 42. But I haven’t quite figured out how to make that pay the bills or give me personal satisfaction. Until then, I’ll have to stick with slaying goals (though we also cuddle), making money, and filling my head with stuff that makes me like being alive.

Design by Grafik Traffik, available on Redbubble

This’ll translate, ever so loosely, into:

  • Work stuff
  • What I wrote
  • Goals stuff
  • More what I wrote
  • Research stuff
  • What I read/watched/listened to

Procrastiwriting weeknotes into being

Image courtesy of http://www.sylvialiuland.com

Apparently, that isn’t a thing yet. So I’ll just have to get down and dirty with it and make a move on Week 1. Onwards!

Featured image by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

19 Comments

  1. Interesting post, I learned a lot about weeknotes that I wasn’t aware of before hand! Doing them sounds like it could be helpful.

  2. This is interesting. As no two things can ever be exactly the same, including measures of time, due to, if nothing else, the measure of time, I wonder how long this method would need to be employed to create a change in behavior.

  3. Jasmine M. Reply

    Seriously, what a great way to stay motivated and to be productive. It also seems helpful to look back on weeknotes from months ago to see where you were at that point. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Sarafina T Reply

    Week notes come in handy, especially if you are a planner. Great Article a lot of great insight!

  5. Interesting thoughts and information about weeknoting. Never had that much that knowledge about it before until today.

  6. Neil Alvin Reply

    Very informative article. I learned a lot from it. ThankS for sharing. 🙂

  7. These are some great tips and I have never heard of weeknotes before! Thanks for enlightening us 🙂

  8. I have never done a weeknote but recently I created blog planner for myself and it is helping me to track all the stats and be consistent.

  9. This is such an interesting concept! You just need to trust yourself to be vulnerable! I’m sure we can all work on that.

  10. I never heard of week note before. What an interesting read! I will try to use the concept in my life in the future.

  11. Pingback: Weeknotes S01E01 (23/06/19): Week of the Butterfly - Eastern Heart Western Mind

  12. I do weeknotes, but this is to a different level. Love the pointers !!

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