I write weeknotes to record what I’ve done, and to reflect on my practice as a product manager. I’ve used a couple of formats over the years, but the headings in my weeknotes template don’t provoke reflection.

Though I do reflect by actively remembering and writing down what I did, I want to be more intentional with my weeknotes. A new set of questions should act as prompts, encouraging me to reflect on how my actions align with my values, or help me move towards the place I want to be spiritually.

Personal values

After working at a startup and feeling like I wasn’t in the right place, that I wasn’t able to do work that fulfilled me, I made a move back to the public sector. At the time I told myself that working in public service aligns more closely with my personal values…but, to be honest, I didn’t really know what those were.

Sure, I knew that I wanted to do things for people, not profit. And I knew that workplaces with good psychological safety energised me. But I couldn’t easily nail down my values. So I turned elsewhere for some help.

I read a few scholarly articles on personal values and there’s a popular framework developed by Shalom H. Schwartz that’s widely referenced. I found an online test that used the framework and answered its questions, to try and work out what my values might be.

My strongest felt values were

  • hedonism
  • universalism
  • self-direction, and
  • benevolence

Hedonism is about pleasure, enjoyment and having fun. Universalism is all about doing things for the benefit of other humans and nature. Self-direction is about creativity, freedom and choosing your own goals. Benevolence is about increasing the welfare of those around you.

Coming up with the questions

I’ve written and edited a set of questions which, I hope, will help me reflect on whether I’m living my values. I’ve also included questions to help me think about how I’m finding balance, inspired by reading Becky Hall’s The Art of Enough.

If there’s no answer to one of these questions, it’s time to ask whether there was an opportunity to live that value in the week. Though I believe in growth, I also believe in limits and boundaries: you can’t push yourself endlessly, and we’re all subject to the chaos of the world.

‘To the mind which lets go and moves with the flow of change, emptiness becomes a kind of ecstasy.’ This comes from Zen Buddhism, another influence on my thinking and doing in the last two years. In The Way of Zen, Alan Watts talks about relying on ‘peripheral vision’ or intuition, so I added a question about that too.

My weekly prompts

The questions I’ve settled on as my weekly prompts are:

  • What did I do for the people and planet?
  • What did I appreciate? What was fun or made me happy?
  • What did I do for those around me?
  • What did I do for my well-being? What was ‘just enough’?
  • What happened through play or intuition?
  • What was hard or puzzling?
  • What did I learn?

These questions will help me structure my reflections, pull the stories out of the work I did in the week, but they shouldn’t appear as headings in published weeknotes. I tried the headings in S13E18 but the weeknotes didn’t feel right, something I reflected on in S14E01.

I’ll continue experimenting with these prompts and tweak things where needed.