“Russell…why do you have to be an over achiever wonder-weenie?”• Barnhart, A. to Palmer, R.L. (2010). LOEX of the West Conference, Calgary, AB.
So…what did I want to know?• Highly scientific survey• Asked 2 questions of 31 of my closest friends and colleagues in the library world via Facebook message• Public/academic/special library people• All have experience with some form of instruction/training in the library world
The questions• What are your BIGGEST time wasters that are actually considered to be WORK. – Examples--spending too much time on a pathfinder or libguide or obsessing over a detail in a presentation thats already "good enough.” Meetings? Let me know!• What types of things happen routinely that steal YOUR time from you? Cause you to leave late or give up a vacation day or a Saturday when you were scheduled to be off?
My hypotheses (not entirely inaccurate, but…)• Work related time wasters would be rooted in:• Obsessing over details (classes, presentations)• Inability to say no• Changing staffing patterns
What happened?• The flood gates opened• Everyone I asked responded, many at length• Some of my assumptions were shattered
From the corporate world• "Too many meetings" was the No. 1 time-waster at the office, cited by 47% of 3,164 workers in a separate study by career site Salary.com this year on workplace time drains. That is up from 42% in 2008, when meetings tied for third place with "waiting for a co-worker to finish something you need." (No. 1 was "fixing someone elses work" and No. 2 was "dealing with office politics.") – Meet the Meeting Killers: In the Office, They Strangle Ideas, Poison Progress; How to Fight Back, WSJ, May 15, 2012
These three, I can handle (but help is always nice!)• Meetings• e-mail• Saying no
Meetings• “Some meetings I call Ground Hog Day meetings— it’s the same meeting--with the same agenda--for the last three years, and nothing ever gets decided”• “MEETINGS. Meetings about meetings. Seriously, I once attended a meeting where we decided when to meet and set the agenda for the next meeting.”
Meetings• Start with a purpose/clear agenda• “We are meeting today to <verb>”• If you can’t start a meeting with that sentence, don’t have one.• End meetings with a recap-- takeaways/executables for everyone present
Meeting tips from WSJ• Set a clear agenda• Impose a no devices rule or schedule periodic tech breaks for email, texts and phone calls• Redirect people back to the agenda when they ramble or digress
More meeting tips, HBR• A meeting doesn’t have to be an hour long— schedule 30 minutes, or 45 minutes• Start and end the meeting at a precise time• Again, institute “no devices” time
More meeting tips• Draw out quiet people by asking them in advance for a specific contribution• Do a round robin, when appropriate, to allow everyone to contribute• Ask early for objections to keep them from derailing discussions later• Limit the length of slide presentations• Interrupt people who talk too long or talk to each other• Set an ending time for the meeting and stick to it
e-mail• e-mail is a problem. Some emails in our office are related to patron issues, so we like to reply to those quickly. Others join the long list of stuff you know you need to deal with but dont have the time for right now.”• e-mail with no subject line, or a subject line like “question.”• “Biggest time suck...unnecessary email. After 1 or 2 exchanges pick up the phone!”
e-mail• Believe it or not, it will wait• Process your e-mail 3 times daily• Don’t work out of your inbox!• It’s processing, not producing• Being reactive, not proactive
Processing vs. Producing• Processing: dealing with information – Categorizing, sorting, prioritizing – Checking e-mail, answering messages – Necessary to stay on top of things• Producing: creating results – Working, accomplishing – Getting things done – The part you actually get paid for
Saying “no”• “*It frustrates me+ that when something needs to be covered, it inevitably and always falls to the people who dont have children. In all of my jobs, I was always the first one called when someone needed to come in on a snow day, when someone had to rush home to pick up a sick child and couldnt teach a class, or when a football game came up on a weekend shift. You cant say no, because you want to be a team player, but the resentment does build after awhile.”
Overcommitment• As libraries are asked to do more without more resources, library staff are asked to do more without more time• Failure to say NO because of: – Desire to please everyone – Don’t want to thwart supervisor – Dedication to customer service – Unrealistic idea of own abilities/commitments – Just didn’t think before saying yes 24
How to say “No”• Never say Yes without thinking about it• Offer a counterproposal or alternative• Keep explanations short & simple• Head off requests before they are made• Psych yourself up to say No – Ask what’s the worst that could happen if you say No – Be firm; control your body language• Be polite! 25
Not QUITE saying “no”• "Ill do it if nobody else steps forward"• "Ill be your deep fall back, but you have to keep searching”
Saying “no”=what to ignore• Peter Bergman, “18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done”• Draw up a “to ignore” list. Ask yourself: • What are you willing not to achieve? • What doesn’t make you happy? • What’s not important to you? • What gets in the way?
These three things are harder—we’re going to work on them together• Technology held together with paper clips and crazy glue• Paperwork (especially travel)• Workflows and processes
Dealing with “bad” technology• If you are waiting for a system to execute, plan tasks for “while you wait”• Advocate for change!• ?
Paperwork• Clarify role of administrative staff• Find and train help• ?
Workflows and processes• Engage student workers and volunteers• Analyze time spent at service points – When are you busiest? – Is full time staffing necessary?
Instruction and programs• Assignment related?• Top loaded at the beginning of the semester?• ?
Learn to accept good enough• Especially when that’s all you have time for.• “Like a few others who have already responded, I also waste precious time on sweating the small stuff when it comes to presentations. I want things to be perfect – not only because I sincerely care if people actually walk away having learned something or feel inspired, but also because I care deeply about what other people think of me.”
How to be extremely unsuccessful at creating a subject guide—how many hours???
Three rules• 1. Don’t let anyone hold your time hostage• Examples?
2. Your time…is yours– Cf. Scott Adams’ OA5 management model, The Dilbert Principle, ch. 26– NO working late– NO working weekends • unless you’re scheduled and get time back– NO taking work home • But what if my computer works better than the one at work?– If it doesn’t get done during normal work hours, it doesn’t get done • But…I have to! • Administrative priorities • Changing generational perspectives
3. Sorry…you don’t work better under pressure.• Procrastination—why?• Perfectionism• Job is too big to do all at once• Job takes too long to do all at once• Job is too difficult• Don’t like to do it• Fear of failure• Fear of success (!?!)• HABIT!
On multitasking while driving…• “The biggest cost — assuming you dont crash — is to your productivity. In part, thats a simple consequence of splitting your attention, so that youre partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. In part, its because when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, youre increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent.” • Tony Schwartz, Harvard Business Review, March 2012
HBR tips, focusing on tasks• Keep people out of “reactive mode,” avoid demanding or expecting instant responsiveness• Encourage a break—actually take it• Hit the ground running in the first part of your day—do the most important tasks first, focusing silently for 60-90 minutes-get absorbed=increased productivity
HBR, cont’d• Build time into your day to think creatively – Easier said than done but if you don’t, you’ll succumb to the “tyranny of the urgent” – And…
Take a (real) vacation!• It will leave you healthier, and more productive!
3a—We are not great at multitasking• Studies show: – Reduces quality of work – Increases stress – But! It makes us feel better – Wang, Z. and Tchernev, J. M. (2012), The “Myth” of Media Multitasking: Reciprocal Dynamics of Media Multitasking, Personal Needs, and Gratifications. Journal of Communication. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2012.01641.x
In the end, a few more things to address--communication• “poor communication costs a huge amount of time that most people do not see. Chasing information, rewriting procedures, correcting work, training/retraining, soothing over hurt feelings, trying to rectify the effects of poor communication -- all sorts of things. Ugh.”
Poor planning• “Poor planning by colleagues… My role often supports the.. initiatives of other departments. Another department might have a.. project, and Ill be called in for consultation and technical expertise. The department to whom the project belongs might wait until the last minute and then expect that I can help out at the drop of a dime. I find myself saying OK, working late or taking work home, instead of asserting my boundaries.”
SO…do as I suggest, not as I do(It’s9:00 AM the day of this presentation…now)
In the end• “A single principle lies at the heart of all these suggestions. When youre engaged at work, fully engage, for defined periods of time. When youre renewing, truly renew. Make waves. Stop living your life in the gray zone.” • Schwartz, HBR Blog, 2012