The Important Emotional Labor of Librarians

The stereotypical librarian is often depicted as a quiet enforcer of silence presiding over dusty bookshelves.  The truth is that public librarians do more than master the art and science of knowledge management.  They must also act as de facto social workers to help the people who walk in their doors every day.

brown and black wooden docor

I just read a touching article on the web site Medium titled The Important Emotional Labor of Librarians Most People Never Think AboutThe article highlights the misunderstood role of library workers in caring for our community.  Author Oleg Kagan shares his own personal story while highlighting the challenge of the profession:

“Most people intuitively understand the emotional load taken on by professions like social workers, nurses, 911 operators, and teachers. Rarely, however, do people consider the emotional labor of librarians. Spend a day at the service desk of a busy library and you’ll see people on their best and, too often, their worst days. Spend a few months and you’ll begin to follow the lives of your repeat visitors — you’ll be privy to, and sometimes help them solve, life’s hardest problems.”

Read the rest of this article at

Stuff on Surfaces

On my Twitter feed two weeks ago I spied an amusing observation I believe came from user Anna M @helgagrace:

“In my experience, adulthood is mostly piling stuff up on surfaces and then eventually having to clean off those surfaces.”

messy-deskWhile this observation is also applicable to our childhood and teenage years, most of us have a tenancy to pile belongings throughout our living and work spaces.  This is because we have not taken the short time required to consider the value of that item, if we want to keep it, and the proper place it should reside.  For home and office, the contexts are different.  At work, the two GTD questions at the top of the workflow diagram, “What is it?” and “Is it actionable?”, can clear backlog.  At home, Konmari’s core question, “Does this spark joy?” can bring the value of personal items into focus.

So with 2019 still fresh and new, why not commit an hour this week to clear off a surface?  You may find that intentionally clearing a space can release fresh energy in your life which can be used to accomplish meaningful goals.  What do you have to lose?  At the very least you will have a clear surface to admire when you are done.

Have fun!


How Not to Fail with a New Year’s Resolution

new year resolutionDid you make a New Year’s Resolution?  While good intentions are plentiful on January 1, it is clear that many people have dropped their resolutions before the month is even a week old.  So are New Year’s Resolutions just another pointless tradition or is there a way to make a resolution stick for the year?

FiveThirtyEight is a web site most famously devoted to politics and elections.  However, they also include unique stories on a wide range of topics.  Last week they posted thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions from Christie Aschwanden.  The article reported some interesting insights into how to succeed with them.  For example, Christie writes:

I dug into the literature and talked to some psychologists, and what I discovered is that science can’t tell me exactly what to resolve, but it has narrowed in on a few tricks that can help me succeed. The first, perhaps most crucial thing to do is pick a goal that you’re truly committed to. Not just something you think you should do, but something you truly want to do, said Marina Milyavskaya, a psychologist at Carleton University. “Wanted goals are much more likely to be attained,” she said.

Read more advice for resolution success on the FiveThirtyEight web site.

The Konmari of Gifts

mariekondoGift giving is an integral component of the holiday season.  Many of your recently experienced that joy of receiving a beautifully wrapped item.  It was probably followed by a moment of anticipation where you tried to guess the contents.  If fortunate, the gift was truly desired and added to the collection immediately.  However, what should be done with a gift that is undesired and unwanted?

Marie Kondo has simple and elegant advice on the art of gift receiving.  She shared it recently on her blog:

“Try out every gift at least one time – even those that don’t immediately spark joy. The ability to feel what truly excites you is only gained through experience. Be adventurous and welcome things that are different. The more experience you gain, the more you’ll refine and heighten your sensitivity to joy. However, you don’t have to keep using the gift forever. If you try using the item and decide that it still doesn’t suit you, thank it for the joy it brought when you first received it – and bid it farewell.”

Read the full blog entry at the Konmari web site.

As 2018 comes to an end, I wish all of you a very Happy New Year. May this coming year be your best ever!


Making Meetings Meaningful

It is common for people to dread meetings.  However, the game of knowledge work is played out not only at your desk but in the many different conversations we have with our colleagues, clients, and collaborators.  In that light, a meeting is simply a conversation that is scheduled for a specific time and place.  While important to getting work done, meetings can also be a source of confusion and conflict if not done effectively.  So, are there best practices to having better meetings?

gtdcoverIn a recent blog post, David Allen shares his insights about meetings and it starts from the top of the Natural Planning Model, that is defining purpose.

“An essential question to answer at the start of any meeting is, “What do we want to accomplish here, and by what time?” If purpose isn’t clear, no one has sufficient criteria by which to frame and monitor the ensuing conversation, nor the information to know whether he or she should participate in it. So, step one, make sure the purpose of each meeting is clear.”

Read the rest of the blog post at Getting Things Done.

Is Willpower Overrated?

How much self-control do you have?  On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high) where do you rank yourself?  Many people believe that self-control is determined by our willpower.  It is also believed that willpower is a fixed trait and something that determines destiny.  But does willpower control how successful that diet will be, or how focused you are on that project, or whether you can complete that personal productivity upgrade?

woman working girl sitting

In a recent article on Vox, the primacy of willpower was challenged by author Brian Resnick.

“But this idea, that people have self-control because they’re good at willpower, is looking more and more like a myth. It turns out that self-control, and all the benefits from it, may not be related to inhibiting impulses at all. And once we cast aside the idea of willpower, we can better understand what actually works to accomplish goals, and hit those New Year’s resolutions.”

Read the rest of the article on Vox.

Better Brainstorming

Do you dread brainstorming sessions?  The idea behind them is very simple, yet often unfulfilling.  The intention is to bring the team together to come up with as many ideas as possible to solve a problem.  Unfortunately, there are inherent flaws in the brainstorming process that can short circuit the process.  So is there a way to do better brainstorming?

people sitting beside brown wooden desk near flat screen tv

A recent article at the web site ScienceNordic provides some possible ways to brainstorm better.  The author, Lukasz Andrzej Derdowski writes that the following approaches have proven to be successful:

“Companies that implement a brainstorming method instruct their employees to abstain from criticism during the exercise so as to avoid ‘evaluation apprehension’. Yet others prefer to conduct electronic brainstorming sessions where participants share ideas on computer platforms without having to wait for their turn, and so alleviate the ‘production blocking issue.’”

Read the rest of the article on the ScienceNordic web site.