Invoking the Power of “Next Action” Thinking

cleandeskWhy do I use the word “efficient” to describe this path of librarianship?  In my article, Efficient Librarianship – A New Path for the Profession the word efficient is defined as: 1. Being or involving the immediate agent in producing an effect; 2. Productive of desired effects; especially: productive without waste.

While the second part of the definition is straightforward, the first part resonates with this work.  From the article:

“Identifying and implementing improvements to personal and organizational workflows produce powerful results. However, the best systems in the world are only useful if they free up energy for productive next actions. An Efficient Librarian understands the implications of the first part of the definition of the word “efficient” given at the start of this article which is to be the agent that produces an effect. An agent by definition is one who acts. Therefore, an Efficient Librarian is very mindful of his or her actions.

“Most people decide their next action at work by reacting to their surroundings. Crisis and stress tend to focus the mind on the most urgent needs. People may subconsciously allow crisis to enter their lives to narrow their action choices. To illustrate, think about what would happen if you discover that the building is on fire. Your next action would be very simple—get out! No need to think about that one. While it does help to simplify decision making, crisis is an unhealthy way to live from day to day due to the accumulated stress. Therefore, an Efficient Librarian purposefully moves past crisis to make meaningful action decisions when things first show up, rather than when they start to blow up.”

Read the rest of the article on the Public Libraries web site.


And the Winner Is …

PL-NOV-DEC-2017-cover-artRRRLast week, my article on Efficient Librarianship was competing in a poll for the Public Library Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award.  This year, congratulations go out to Kyra Hahn for her article about Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which was the winner. Thank you to everyone who voted in the poll.  I look forward to competing again for this honor in the future.

In the meantime, check out this recording of a Florida Library Webinar on the best items from this year’s PLA Conference.  My Spark Talk presentation on Five Minutes to Inbox Zero was mentioned a couple of times.  Whether you were at the conference or not, the webinar is a great opportunity to catch up on the exciting events and information from this seminal event.

What to be More Productive? Take a Break!

One of the misunderstandings about getting things done is that the person who works the hardest and longest is the most productive.  In fact, the opposite is more likely the case.  GTD author David Allen has confessed on numerous occasions to being “probably the laziest guy you’ve ever met.”  In fact, if you want to get more done, the science advises to take more breaks.

IDanielpink2n his recent book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, author Daniel Pink discusses why breaks help make people more productive.  He outlines five different types of breaks to take throughout the day to recharge your battery and refocus on the task at hand.  The types of breaks are:

  • Micro Breaks (One Minute or Less)
  • Moving Breaks (Standing Up and Walking Around)
  • Nature Breaks (Going Outside for Fresh Air)
  • Social Breaks (Chat with a Friend)
  • Mental Gear Shifting Breaks (Meditation or Deep Breathing)

Pink’s book offers other great insights, including when to change your job, when to schedule meetings, and the importance of beginnings, middles, and ends.  So the time is now to pick up a copy from your local library.

Readers Choice Feature Article Contest

PL-NOV-DEC-2017-cover-artRRRThe other day I received the following email from Public Libraries Magazine regarding my article, Efficient Librarianship, a New Path for the Profession:

I’m writing to let you know that a feature article you contributed to “Public Libraries” in 2017 has been chosen to participate in the annual ‘readers choice’ feature article award. Five articles have been chosen and readers will vote for the article they feel should receive the award. The prize is $300 which is presented during the PLA member breakfast at the ALA Annual Conference.

You can see more here Please feel free to share and encourage voting among your friends and colleagues.  Thanks so much for sharing this great work with our readers!


Kathleen M. Hughes
Editor, Public Libraries
Manager, Publications

PLA, division of ALA

I encourage everyone to participate in the online poll, irregardless of whom you vote for.  If my article is selected, I plan to donate the prize money to our library partners, The Friends of the Palm Beach County Library System.

The deadline to cast your vote is this Friday, June 1.

What Gets in the Way of Being Productive?

The principles of efficiency are very simple.  Yet the mystery of this work is why so many people struggle to implement the basic moves on a consistent basis.  There seems to be more at play here than meets the eye.

In a recent blog post, David Allen addresses this question head on and generates some intriguing, yet familiar to GTDers, insights into the problem.

DA-Small“A typical question I get is, “What’s the one thing that we do that gets in the way of us being productive?” It’s not one thing, but five, all wrapped together: People keep stuff in their head. They don’t decide what they need to do about stuff they know they need to do something about. They don’t organize action reminders and support materials in functional categories. They don’t maintain and review a complete and objective inventory of their commitments. Then they waste energy and burn out, allowing their busy-ness to be driven by what’s latest and loudest, hoping it’s the right thing to do but never feeling the relief that it is.”

Read the rest of his blog post at the Getting Things Done web site.

Join Me at FLA

flalogoThe Florida Library Association Conference is happening this week at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando Florida from May 23-25.  I will be participating in several different events, including the Public Library Academy pre-conference on the afternoon of May 22.  As well, I am leading the breakout session, Lessons Learned from the Sunshine State Library Leadership Institute on May 24, 3 pm.

Although there are no Efficient Librarian sessions on the agenda, I am inviting all my blog readers to join me for lunch at the pool side bar on May 23 after the opening session wraps up around 11:30 am.  So, if you are attending the conference, drop on by.  I’ll even do my best to answer any productivity questions you may have!

On a completely different note, here is a link to an intriguing article on Tiago Forte’s blog called A Pattern Recognition Theory of Mind.  It may help you understand why you think as you do.

General Reference Filing – A Key to a Clean Desk

paper-filesDo you know someone who has piles of papers stacked on their desk?  Over time, these piles can spill out to neighboring chairs, tables, and even onto the floor.  In such cases, it is safe to assume that this person’s filing system has stopped functioning.

If not managed efficiently, paper filing systems can easily swallow up whole offices.  Therefore, it is important to tame them as soon as possible and keep them in check year-round. Thankfully, there are very easy steps to do just that.  For starters:

  • Use a single A-Z filing system for everything. Simplicity trumps complexity every time.
  • Keep a stack of file folders within reach to file anything quickly. If file folders are only available in a supply cabinet down the hall they may as well be on Mars for all the chance you will walk down to get one.
  • Purge your files annually. Reference material goes stale over time.  Toss things that no longer have any apparent value.
  • Keep your filing cabinets no more than three quarters full. Don’t let it get to the point where jamming in a document incurs a high risk of paper cuts.  Clean up or expand to another cabinet when space is low.

More great tips on general reference filing can be found in this simple handout from the Getting Things Done web site.