Could weeknotes help your digital project? Here's a guide

Published on
January 25, 2021
in
How Tos
Joe Roberson
A guide to what they are, ways to write them and platforms to use.

This guide is for the 117 charities currently working on Catalyst projects and any others who want to work more openly. It covers:

  • What weeknotes are
  • Why weeknotes are healthy and cool
  • Tips for writing good weeknotes
  • Platforms to use
  • Styles or types
  • Ways to share your weeknotes

**Update: We added a link to weeknote templates on 10/02/21. You can use any of these templates to make it easier to write your weeknotes.

Weeknotes are notes, not blogs

Weeknotes are notes about what you’ve been doing this week. 

They are personal. They follow no set format. You write them in whatever style you like. There are no set rules. There is no set length. 

You can write them for you. You can write them for your team. Your team can take turns.

You can write what you choose. You don’t have to write every week. 

They don’t have to be everything that happened. They can be snippets or stories. They can be a handful of bullet points, a few paragraphs or even longer if you wish. 

Weeknotes are healthy and cool

If you're running a project, weeknotes can be a good habit to get into. Because:

  • They help you reflect on your work, learn from it and make better decisions
  • They create new connections - people who read them understand what you are doing and can help if you ask for it
  • They show that you are willing to working openly and share - cool
  • They help you find your writing voice - very cool
  • People want to read them (we’re curious about people doing work like us)

Tips for writing good ones

Giles Turnbull wrote these great tips. I’ve summarised them here. They are his words and mine, but mainly his. 

Don’t worry too much about structure - use the same, or vary it. No rules here. 

Sometimes there’s not much to say, and that’s fine - some weeks are full of news, others are slower. Use photos if you want to show something differently. 

Write on a Friday - by next Monday you’ll have forgotten what happened this week.

You can include jokes and gifs - when people smile they enjoy your writing

If you’re a leader, write your own weeknotes - don’t delegate it as a chore. Write your reflections on the past week, the way you see it. The more you can write like this, the more likely it is that people will bother to actually read your weeknote.

Let team members take turns to write weeknotes too - anyone can write weeknotes. People will have different styles. 

If you treat weeknotes like a burden, they’ll feel like a burden - they aren’t a reporting tool. They are personal. 

Be personal - a genuine personal reflection of the week. Allow thoughts and feelings to creep in, alongside news. Be open, be candid, be the sort of refreshing honesty that most colleagues are yearning for. That will result in excellent weeknotes.

Platforms

Using a new online platform can put people off writing weeknotes. But it’s super easy, even if you’ve never written on the web before. And it’s free. Here are three good options:

Medium - possibly the easiest place to get started. Simple to use. Beautiful design and easy writing experience. You can even publish on our Medium blog and reach more charities, just follow our guide.

Wordpress.com - another good option. Choice of themes. Straightforward to learn. Doesn’t need to be used as a website. 

LinkedIn - easy place to get started. Good for reaching networks. Not as pretty as Medium and Wordpress.com

You could also use the blogging feature on your organisation’s website. But because weeknotes are personal reflections they usually fit better on a place or platform that belongs to you or your team.

Styles and types

Sam Villis at Weeknot.es wrote some great ideas for formats and styles. I've summarised them here. See examples of each style on her original post.

1. The ‘jump straight in’- no structure: just thoughts and words. Simple and quick. Hard to do if you prefer to follow a structure. 

2. The daily breakdown - simple. Use days of the week as your headings. Write as much detail as you like. Can feel mechanical.

3. Lean-notes - communicate about specific projects or programmes. 

4. The ‘[X] things that happened’ - flexible, repeatable and concise. Helps you pick out the most important things. For example ‘5 things that happened this week’.

5. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - group by theme, without thinking of themes. Choose your own themes e.g. good things, learned things, difficulties, achievements, or overarching feeling, highlights, lessons

6. Stretching questions - like themes, but framed as questions, to help you think, e.g. What did you experiment with? What was hard? What did you enjoy? What was fun? What did you learn?

7. The anti-structure - feelings over thinking. Stream of consciousness. 

See examples of these styles in action.

Sharing your weeknotes

Share new weeknotes via their link in all the usual ways:

  • tweet the link
  • email the link to people you think might be interested - both colleagues and people outside your organisation
  • give the link to your newsletter team

Need some help?

Use weeknote templates.

If you're working on a Catalyst project you can get more help with your weeknotes from the Open Working Lineup (OWL). Email us or do it more quickly by sending us your question here

Or get started now by becoming a writer on our Medium blog. It's really easy :)



Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

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