Gavin Elliott

Gavin is a Designer and Organiser of Industry Conf, The Practical Web Conference.

Published Thoughts

Government Design

A few weeks ago I started working at the Department for Work and Pensions Digital Team. They sit under the Government Digital Service and we work to the same standards as they do.

3 days in and I was sat in a room in Leeds with 60+ other designers in a cross-government design meeting. The first outside of London and the largest held to date.

It was really interesting for me, I’d read and heard so much about the Government Digital Service before joining and I really wondered what it would be like ‘on the inside’.

We heard stories from every digital service, even the newest ones and they were all delivered by extremely passionate designers which was interesting as well.

Just the week before, 5 ‘big names’ from GDS handed in their notice to leave and everyone was wondering about what the fall-out would be. The thing is, there didn’t seem to be any. If anything, it was more of a flag planting exercise. There is still so much to do across government and everyone knows it.

The people in that room cared about the work they were doing, they were excited and they congratulated each other for doing a great job. They want to make a difference to a citizens life.

I talk endlessly at Industry Conf about using our skills to do good, and that’s one of the reasons why I joined, it’s the reason why I believe in the GDS and I’ve got to honestly say that everything you hear about them is right.

Week 4 starts now.

We're also hiring Interaction Designers in London, Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester, come and join me.

Invest in Yourself

A little while ago I sent out the following;

There were many thoughts behind that message and a bit of a personal story (and telling off) which needed expanding on.

I've never been good at prioritising myself over other people or things. I've got a personality type where I like to help where I can, and when you're like that you often forget to focus on yourself. This causes one of the biggest challenges. The time that is taken up when you're off helping other people limits the time you can spend on yourself.

For the past couple of years, I've written over and over again that I need to take a step back and almost re-design and re-engineer myself. I knew I had a problem that needed to be fixed and I most definitely knew that the problem was me and that putting it off wouldn't fix anything.

So, at the beginning of the year I pledged to myself that things would change. Over the past 4 months I've invested more in my personal health than ever before. I'm reaping the benefits. I'm fitter, stronger and healthier than I've been in 13 years*.

The investment that I've made in myself is both a time and financial investment. I dedicate at least an hour per day for personal fitness, I've rewired the way my brain thinks about what I eat and invested about £200/month over the past 4 months. I've cut back on the silliest of things I used to spend money on to help me on the journey I'm taking to become healthier.

The benefits and results from doing so aren't just physical, they're also psychological. Investing in myself has given me time to think, time to learn and most importantly time to become healthier than I ever have been in the past 13 years.

The next steps are to invest in learning again, for too long I've put this off because "I didn't have the time...", which is a brilliant excuse for just not doing it. I've figured that it is down to being afraid of not being able to learn. It's madness, true madness. To get through it, I sat and watched my two little girls who can pick up an object without having seen it before and start figuring it out in a matter of minutes, they don't know what it's like to be afraid and I'm now happy to follow in a 3yr olds footsteps.

Investing in your education doesn't and shouldn't stop at school or university. Our industry is so vast that there's so much to constantly learn even in our respective fields. Over the past few years there have been so many places that have popped up that you can do your learning, whether it's reading a book or online at places like udemy, treehouse, codecademy or skillshare, there's a plethora of places to go.

Try It

By picking any of the things above you'll start on your own journey, whether you want to learn something new or become healthier in body and mind, you can and will if you just start.

Start small, work towards something and enjoy the ride.

*I'm currently writing up a new article describing the changes and how things have changed which will be with you shortly.