LLAMA – Efficient Librarian Webinar

I am proud to announce the upcoming Efficient Librarian webinar, presented in partnership with the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) of ALA.  My intention is to make this a fun, interactive, and highly practical webinar that will provide techniques that can be applied immediately.  The webinar will take place on:

Wednesday, 2/27/2019
  • 2:30 PM-4:00 PM (Eastern)
  • 1:30 PM-3:00 PM (Central)
  • 12:30 PM-2:00 PM (Mountain)
  • 11:30 AM-1:00 PM (Pacific)

LLAMA does require a paid registration for their webinars.  For more information or to register, please visit: http://www.ala.org/llama/efficient-librarian-productivity-strategies-workplace-success



Can’t I Just Ignore It?

Want to guess how many unread emails sit in the average person’s inbox?

10? 20? 40? MORE?

According to a 2017 study, the actual answer is 199!

AdamGrant_2016-headshot_previewAs someone who teaches classes on email productivity, I was dismayed but not surprised by this alarming fact.  The truth is that email comes so fast and furious that it is easy for the unprepared knowledge worker to be overwhelmed.  Yet, is it alright to ignore all those messages and never respond to senders? After all, aren’t they only trying to delegate work onto your already full plate anyway?

In an article for the New York Times, Adam Grant, author of Originals, argues that failing to keep up with your inbox is not only unproductive, but unprofessional as well.  He writes:

“Volume isn’t an excuse for not replying. Ignoring email is an act of incivility.  ‘I’m too busy to answer your email’ really means ‘Your email is not a priority for me right now.’  That’s a popular justification for neglecting your inbox: It’s full of other people’s priorities. But there’s a growing body of evidence that if you care about being good at your job, your inbox should be a priority.”

Read the rest of the article at the New York Times web site.

A Few Thoughts on Procrastination

It has taken me a while, but I have finally come back to the topic of procrastination.  In the surveys for my latest Efficient Librarian workshop, several participants cite procrastination as a big productivity barrier.   After presenting the workshop, a few thoughts on the topic came to mind.

white and tan english bulldog lying on black rug

In Chapter One of Getting Things Done, David Allen wrote about “Why Things are on Your Mind.”   In that section, he lists three reasons.  Any of these three in my opinion can become sources of procrastination.  Let’s look at them.

Lack of Clarity on the Intended Outcome – If we don’t have a clear outcome in mind, there will be little energy to do the work and thus procrastination will set in.

Haven’t Decided on the Next Physical Action Step – Often we don’t have the time to think clearly about our next actions.  Without pre-planned simple physical actions, it is easy to put off progress and procrastinate.

Don’t Have a Trusted System to Store Reminders – It is easy to procrastinate when you have forgotten the goals and actions previously decided.  With life moving quickly, the lack of a trusted system leads us to procrastinate on important items as we chase the latest and loudest.

One final thought on procrastination.  Even if we have clarity on the outcome, the next physical action decided and placed in our trusted system, we still may not do anything if one more detail is lacking: passion.  Quite simply, if we are no longer fired up by the purpose of the project then procrastination becomes the easy default.  Sometimes a project that inspired us in the past is only hanging on because of an internal sense of obligation to it.  Feel free to let those projects go.

Ultimately, the good news is that once we have resolved the three reasons listed above, procrastination quickly dissolves to be replaced by purposeful action and energy.  So, what are you procrastinating about today?  Best not to put it off until tomorrow.

GTD + BASB = Better Person

Personal productivity and knowledge management are related skill sets required for most of us to perform our best at work.  While they are both mostly thought of as functional efficiency tools, did you know their practice can also build virtue?

forteTiago Forte of Forte Labs recently shared his thoughts on how productivity and knowledge management skills can increase our own potential to do good in the world.  By committing to Getting Things Done (GTD) and his own Build a Second Brain (BASB) course, Tiago believes that we will become not only more efficient, but also a better person as a result.  He explains how we start the journey this way:

“Often, when we embark on this journey – learning digital fluency, task management (GTD), personal knowledge management (BASB) and beyond – our motivation is primarily one of utility. We want to stop procrastinating, to get more things done, to excel at our work, and have a vibrant, flourishing career. GTD and BASB will absolutely help you meet those goals.

While on this journey, however, we start to realize that GTD and BASB can serve another purpose: sheer pleasure.”

Learn how this eventually leads to mastering higher virtues by reading the rest of the article at Forte Labs.

There is Always Too Much to Do

Have you ever felt overwhelmed?  You know that feeling that there are too many things to do and not enough time to do them in?  This is especially true if you are an “ideas” person whose mind constantly generates new thoughts and insights that eventual lead to a string of projects.  How are we supposed to handle this overwhelm and stay sane?

design desk display eyewear

The first step is to understand that there is always more to do than time allows.  If you follow GTD practice, the generation of action lists and a robust project list will quickly demonstrate this fact.  Accepting that some things will never be done is a part of good mental health.  The trick becomes deciding what is essential to complete in terms of your larger mission and purpose.  Spending a lot of time completing small tasks with little payoff becomes exhausting.  It is far better to complete fewer tasks well that lead to bigger payoffs.

I was once asked this question in an Efficient Librarian workshop: “How often do you empty your action folder?”

I replied that as a functional folder the point wasn’t to empty it regularly like the inbox, but instead to corral actionable items together into one place.  In fact, in the last four years my work email action folder has only been completely empty once.  Since I am very active at work, it may never be empty again until I retire!

So, relax and remember that there will always be more to do than can be done.  The question you have to consider is what is the most important thing to do in the time you have.  That answer will lead you productively and efficiently forward.

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.