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

llama

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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.

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.

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!

 

Advice on Tidying a Workspace

mariekondoDo you inhabit a messy workplace?  While your desk contains clutter of your own making, most offices have communal spaces that can quickly get out of hand.  What is the best approach to keeping these common areas clean?

The Konmari Method, created by Marie Kondo, is mostly devoted to helping people organize their personal home space.  However, in an interview with the web site Quartz Marie Kondo shares insights into keeping office spaces clean.

“My suggestion would be for co-workers to tidy up their workplace together. There are many benefits to organizing your desk space, including increasing your efficiency by spending less time looking for the things that you need, being able to more quickly prioritize your workload, and even feeling better as a result of working in a clean environment.”

Read the other questions and answers for Marie in this short article on Quartz.

Social Infrastructure

You may be familiar with the term “social capital”— the concept commonly used to measure people’s relationships and networks.  It has been used for many years as a way to emphasize the importance of people in an organization or community.  While this concept is important, what has often been overlooked is the public space that people need for this interaction to take place, known as the Social Infrastructure.

Social Infrastructure is featured in a recent Atlantic article titled, Worry Less About Crumbling Roads, More About Crumbling LibrariesAs author Eliot Klinenberg writes:

palaces“Public institutions, such as libraries, schools, playgrounds, and athletic fields, are vital parts of the social infrastructure. So too are community gardens and other green spaces that invite people into the public realm. Nonprofit organizations, including churches and civic associations, act as social infrastructure when they have an established physical space where people can assemble, as do regularly scheduled markets for food, clothing, and other consumer goods.”

Read the rest of this fascinating article on the Atlantic’s website.  If you enjoy it, look for Klinenberg’s book, Palaces of the People: how social infrastructure can help fight inequality, polarization, and the decline of civic life at your local library.

Acceptable Interruptions

Have you ever been interrupted at work?  The truth is that we are interrupted constantly throughout the day.  In fact, it is one of the top concerns that my workshop participants raise in the seminar pre-survey.  The mental cost to get back on track after an interruption is very high. So much so that most people would like to close their door, put on their earphones, and have a full day without anyone interrupting them.

man in brown long sleeved button up shirt standing while using gray laptop computer on brown wooden table beside woman in gray long sleeved shirt sitting

However, are all interruptions bad? I believe there are at least three acceptable types of interruptions.  They are:

  • Emergency Interruptions – If the building is in fire or someone is hurt, please interrupt me.
  • Major Organizational Deadline Interruptions – When a big gala is happening tomorrow, budget deadlines are here, or key strategic projects are in their final stage, these items may override all normal work. Best to help your teammates out cheerfully here.
  • Customer Service Interruptions – When scheduled to be the point person for customer affairs, or if a major customer needs attention, you are committed to set other work aside to focus on them.

What else do you think is an acceptable interruption?