Yesterday was my GDS 3rd birthday 🥳 and I still feel quite lucky to work there.

Been a tough one this week, if I’m honest. A full to-do list at work and then teaching product in the evenings, plus an interview task on Thursday. 12-hour days until Friday, when I could log off at 5.30 p.m.

Pushing through to clear the to-do list is tough right now too, eh? Chris really nailed it in his latest weeknote:

Whilst I’ve never been more grateful for the material, pragmatic aspects of my work – job security, good pay – my relationship with it has also never felt so transactional or attritional. Everything happening on this flat shiny surface connected to a tube. I really miss going to a different place and being around people every day. If the last year has told me anything it’s that there are real limits to my introversion.

These are the gaps that are hardest to fill, the human bits. But we’ll get there. I think I’ll read up on Viktor Frankl’s meaning therapy that he conceived in Auschwitz.

Things I shuffled along

More time wrapping up the mission, documenting everything we’ve learned so that our future selves have something to start with. Our interaction and content designer did a good job with some content changes but feel like some A/B testing would help settle some uncertainties. Unfortunately that’s an approach we can’t yet take on GOV.UK Pay as we have no tech to do it, not like the stack we built on GOV.UK Search. It’s sensible to want to test our assumptions though, so maybe a wider design crit outside the team would work.

We’re building a minimum viable product (MVP) for telephone payment links, giving teams the chance to take payments over the phone without needing to integrate with our API. It’s especially good for anyone without access to developers, like centralised call centres, police stations and council offices. I got a bit nerdy about it being a proper MVP because it’s an oft misunderstood term.

Did some SEO work on a blog post to launch the Introduction to Product Management course, so keep an eye out for when Arfah publishes that.

Fact-checked our 3D Secure content with our technical writer, Mark. I should have done that sooner; thank-you to David for pointing out an inconsistency between our messaging to services and some UI content 🙏

Things I started

On Monday I ran the Work–Life Impact workshops I mentioned last week. Everyone was great at being open with their struggles and helping out their colleagues. I must do a write-up of all three workshops, so that we know which areas we’d like to work on, which gaps we need to fill.

Had a strategy chat with Antonia, Xander and our senior management team. It was good, but I need to be better at explaining why I think it’s important that we form and track our growth pipeline. It’s a feedback loop that complements our discovery work and chats with services, and it might help us be proactive about biz dev rather than be forced to react to a bad situation.

I sent a call-out for research participants for our discovery. I’ve added it below in case you’d be a good fit for it too.

💸 Can you help with research about taking payments from users?

We’re looking for people to help us with some research into how the public sector takes payments from users. Chats would last approximately 30–45 minutes between 15 February and 19 March 2021. 

We’re interested in speaking to people and teams who

  • need to make it easier for the public to pay your organisation
  • may need to take payments on a recurring basis or in instalments
  • need to offer an automated telephone payment service for users
  • have or may need user accounts

How to get involved

You can contact to help our research or share this message with colleagues who may be interested. 

Some puzzles

My own motivation was a puzzle last week, but I’ve definitely improved on it this week. Now the puzzle confronting me is the team’s motivation and what that means for our discovery. I’ll need to take a temperature check on that next week.

Other things

Everything’s been workworkwork this week, so I haven’t really done any other things. One highlight was a lunchtime natter with Simon, which I recommend everyone do. It was good to talk about running with someone who’s been doing it for a while.

On the running, I had an absolute blast this week. A 40-minute run around Llŷn on Wednesday was the longest run I’ve ever done, so I did another one on Friday for 45 minutes. Giving myself an 1.5-hour lunch break and extending my working hours so that I can fit in these runs has definitely helped my motivation at work to compared to last week.

When you’re running, all you concentrate on is breathing and not falling into banks of mud, which is quite a mindful thing to do. I don’t even listen to music on a distance run because my mind is so focused on making sure my body doesn’t malfunction. Plus you get this massive hit of endorphins at the end (which is really helping with the not-drinking).

On drinking, I’m halfway through my 2-month break from booze. The real test will be doing this when the pubs are open again, but avoiding the temptation at home is the first step.

Here’s a mix of tunes I found and loved in January. UK drill, hip-hop, grime, bass music and ambient sounds. Screwed evolutions at the end. Good for the weather we’re having.