Time mgt for librarians


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  • Time can’t be managed; it passes and that’s that. We can manage our activities to make better use of time. Everyone has the same amount of time, 1440 minutes every day Efficiency is doing things quickly and well; it needs to be coupled with effectiveness, which is doing the appropriate jobs. You can’t be efficient or effective if you work reactively based on the order things come into your hands. A clean desk doesn’t automatically make you productive, nor does a messy one make you creative. But a clean desk makes things easier to find, if coupled with a good filing system.
  • Often the people who stamp out the fires get the recognition and credit. But the people who prevent the fires from breaking out in the first place are the more valuable!
  • There was a time (in the mythic past) when we had limited communication channels on the job > limited amount of information to process. Nowadays, we have more channels than we can handle > more info coming at us > spend more time processing that info, at the expense of our productivity
  • One key concept for managing your time: keep your Processing and your Producing separate I’ll talk about what I mean by Action categories in a while, for now just understand the difference between processing and producing.
  • Before we get too far, a few words about procrastination! First definition is from Merriam-Webster online, second is from Michelle Tullier, Complete Idiot’s Guide to Overcoming Procrastination. Remember: procrastination doesn’t happen to you! Procrastination is something you do. Therefore, you have control over it.
  • Frank Bruno describes 5 types of procrastination: Functional: done for a good reason, e.g. insufficient information, illness, deferred for a higher-priority task Dysfunctional: useless or self-defeating Short-term: a few hours or days late Long-term: you never get around to doing sth Chronic: dysfunctional & long-term combined
  • (Whiteboard or flip chart brainstorm) (then click to reveal this list) Other reasons: Generally stuck (in job, in personal life) Feeling overwhelmed Don’t get the instant gratification you want Avoid making decisions or judgments Lack of urgency Sense of personal control HABIT is a big one. One can get into the habit of putting things off, just because one always has done so. There’s no immediate reason, but we still do it. This is a tough habit to break, but it’s part of what we’re going to try to attack today.
  • Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, late 19 th -early 20 th C, talking about distribution of wealth…80/20 principle has become shorthand for any unbalanced relationship & applies to practically everything. 20% of a resource or activity accounts for 80% of the effort put into it If it takes 1 hour to get something 4/5 perfect, it would take 5 hours to get it totally perfect. Some library functions are like an assembly line. Backlogs have repercussions for routines occurring downstream from you: Acquisition -> Cataloging -> Processing -> Shelving -> Ultimately, Public services
  • The system I’m showing you is based on Greg Vetter’s, which he calls The Vetter Way (of course).
  • When you process your in-box, each item in it is going to one of four destinations: Out Box: anything you want to move to another location (mail, a colleague, central filing, etc) Action: anything you want to take action on or work on. Trash: anything you no longer need/use, something you want to get rid of. Support: reference items, resources…things you don’t intend to work on but are keeping around to refer to. The faster you move stuff OUT of your office, the more productive you are. (People who travel may include a Home destination too, for things to take along on trips etc.)
  • I put an important URL on a green sticky note. Can you find it on this desk? How about this one? “ A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind,” right? But if you can’t find something on your desk, spend 30 seconds looking for it, repeat 10 times a day? 30 secs x 10 x 5 days x 50 weeks = 20 hours, 50 minutes wasted per year. Over half a week per year looking for stuff on your desk!
  • This means just five things! Yes, it’s harsh. It’s meant to be. The point is that everything else belongs somewhere else! “ But if I don’t see it, I won’t find it!” Everything goes in its place, and you know where those places are – it doesn’t have to be visible to be findable! (example of underwear or sock drawer).
  • You see how quickly it adds up, if you let it? Be realistic. If you allow one exception, be sure you can keep it to one. Don’t let the extras multiply, or you’re back where you started!
  • Action categories are different from Support—these are the things you’re currently Producing with. These should be in a file very convenient to your desk; you’ll be in here a lot. Here I definitely recommend different colors, to tell at a glance what’s what. My To Do files are red, Routine are green, Projects are purple, and Ticklers are standard drab olive. How you arrange them is up to you; you’re going to be working from each of these categories every day. Mine are in this order (front to back) but I’ll be talking about them in a different order later on. Briefly: To Do: High-priority tasks reserved for your daily Quiet Time (I’ll get into that later) Routine: Things you do a lot. Batch similar tasks together for economies of scale. Projects: Ongoing (but finite) efforts requiring multiple steps to complete Tickler: Date-specific items, that can only be done on a given day.
  • Tickler is arranged with day files in front (today first, to end of month, beginning of next month & around again) then months (starting with next month). Pending can go either in the very front or very back. Drop date-specific items in the day they’re to be used. E.g. tickets, materials to bring to an appointment/meeting, reminders to call s.o. on a given day, etc. If the date is more than 31 days ahead, drop it in the month folder. 1 st of month, take the month folder and distribute its contents into the day folders. Pending is for things you can’t act on until something happens. This isn’t for deadlines! If Project X is due on the 15 th , and you drop it in say the 8 th (a week ahead of deadline), you won’t see it until then. You could be working on it now! Project X goes in a different category.
  • Familiar Routine file: shopping list. Same idea applied to other things we have to do.
  • The To Do category contains the individual tasks you intend to work on, either in the immediate or indeterminate future. They are ranked A, B and C in order of importance. Crucial to understand: IMPORTANT tasks and URGENT tasks are not the same thing! Taking a course on (for example) quality reference service in the virtual environment might be not at all urgent—you could do it any time—but extremely important because it will make you a better reference libn. That’s why we want to be PROACTIVE rather than REACTIVE: we’re no longer letting the urgent tasks drown out the important ones. For your sanity’s sake, don’t put more than a dozen tasks in To Do A. You’ll overwhelm yourself. Anything more, and some of them are demoted to B’s.
  • Project files are a little different: you don’t work out of them directly, they’re a kind of holding area for jobs that require multiple steps. To Do’s can be done at a sitting. Projects can’t.
  • Format trumps content: my Greg Vetter book goes in Support > Books > Vetter, not Support > Classes > Time Mgt. Good to have a Support > Tools drawer for pens, stapler, tape, calculator, etc. Tools vs. supplies: tools are reusable, supplies are single-use. Don’t hoard supplies & tools! (How many pens do you need?) The central supply closet is there for you.
  • Computer directory arrangement can parallel the Support categories in your physical files. Use subdirectories the same way you would use subcategories. You’ll obviously have some physical categories & files that don’t have counterparts on the computer, and vice versa. It’s tempting to interrupt yourself every time a new e-mail comes in. Try to limit yourself to processing your e-mail just before you process your In Box. (Actually, process your voice mail, e-mail, and then your In Box—that way you can put voice-mail or e-mail related notes in your In Box, and they’ll make it into your Action categories.)
  • Why the In Box first? It’s simple to remember: one place for everything. It means things won’t get lost (which pile did I put that in?). It eliminates interruptions, as you’re not drawn to each new thing that comes in—just dump it & forget it until you next Process the In Box. Process your In Box first thing in the morning, after lunch, and just before the end of the day. Do not work out of your In Box—processing it means moving Actionable items into Action categories, where they’ll be ready for you to Produce with them more effectively.
  • Stand to make the process active; action creates energy. Use your senses. Say “Action, Tickler, 23 rd ” or “Action, Routine, Read” or “Support, Classes, Time Management”. Look at the file you’re putting it in. Feel yourself bending over the file and reaching for it. Sense memory enhances your retention of information.
  • In a perfect world, your whole organization would take Quiet Time at the same time, so nobody would be tempted to interrupt their co-workers. Second-best idea: partner with someone to run interference for each other’s QTs. Field their calls & visitors. Librarians rarely have the luxury of scheduling QT at the same time every day. But do try to be as consistent as you can about taking a regular QT. You may have to take 2 4-hour stretches a week instead of QT every day. Just don’t push yourself past the point of diminishing returns.
  • Let the system do the thinking for you! You don’t need to decide right away what’s more of a priority than what. You’ll only ever work on the A’s, but you’ll be reviewing the B’s and C’s weekly. Some of them will move to become A’s. (When I say put it in your To Do, I really mean put it in your In Box, and then into To Do when you process the In Box.) Instead of dropping your tasks in the actual A/B/C folders, you may want to staple those folders shut and keep a handy supply of unlabeled folders. Give each task its own unlabeled folder, nestled behind the A/B/C tab.
  • Librarians tend to keep everything.
  • Study in Industrial Engineer magazine: avg. interruption lasts 6-9 mins; avg. recovery time = 23 mins.
  • Time mgt for librarians

    1. 1. Time Management for Librarians
    2. 2. Myths of Time Management <ul><li>Time can be managed </li></ul><ul><li>Organized people have more time </li></ul><ul><li>Efficiency is the Holy Grail of time management </li></ul><ul><li>Touch each paper only once </li></ul><ul><li>A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind </li></ul><ul><li>A clean desk equals productivity </li></ul><ul><li>A cluttered desk equals creativity </li></ul>
    3. 3. Reactive or Proactive? <ul><li>Being Reactive: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Responding to events </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Priority goes to URGENT tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Putting out fires” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Being Proactive: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anticipating events </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Priority goes to IMPORTANT tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Being a fire marshal” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Which would you rather be? </li></ul>
    4. 4. Processing vs. Producing <ul><li>Processing: dealing with information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Categorizing, sorting, prioritizing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Checking e-mail, answering messages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Necessary to stay on top of things </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Producing: creating results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Working, accomplishing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Getting things done </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The part you actually get paid for </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. The information explosion Processing Producing
    6. 6. Keep Processing and Producing separate! <ul><li>Do both every day </li></ul><ul><li>Process before you produce </li></ul><ul><li>Processing: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>checking voice mail, e-mail, in-box daily </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>reviewing Action categories weekly </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Producing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>working Action categories (To Do, Routine, Tickler) daily </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Procrastination <ul><li>pro·cras·ti·nate </li></ul><ul><li>Etymology: Latin procrastinare, from pro- forward + crastinus of tomorrow, from cras tomorrow </li></ul><ul><li>transitive verb :  to put off intentionally and habitually </li></ul><ul><li>intransitive verb :  to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done </li></ul><ul><li>“ The act of putting off something until later by either not starting it, starting it at the last minute, or starting but not finishing” </li></ul>
    8. 8. No, you do not work better under pressure. <ul><li>Types of procrastination: </li></ul><ul><li>Functional </li></ul><ul><li>Dysfunctional </li></ul><ul><li>Short-term </li></ul><ul><li>Long-term </li></ul><ul><li>Chronic </li></ul>
    9. 9. Why do people procrastinate? <ul><li>Perfectionism </li></ul><ul><li>Job is too big to do all at once </li></ul><ul><li>Job takes too long to do all at once </li></ul><ul><li>Job is too difficult </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t like to do it </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of failure </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of success (!?!) </li></ul><ul><li>HABIT! </li></ul>
    10. 10. Repercussions <ul><li>The high cost of perfection: Pareto’s 80/20 principle </li></ul><ul><li>Backlogs affect downstream routines </li></ul>
    11. 11. Remember: <ul><li>You spend more energy avoiding a tough job than doing it. </li></ul><ul><li>The best way around is through! </li></ul><ul><li>How to deal with </li></ul><ul><li>procrastination? </li></ul>
    12. 12. Procrastination strategies <ul><li>Don’t do it! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If job is unnecessary </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Get someone else to do it </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Someone who likes doing it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Delegate it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hire it out (if economically feasible) </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Procrastination strategies <ul><li>Dare to make a decision </li></ul><ul><li>Make yourself accountable to someone </li></ul><ul><li>Break the task down </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on the first step </li></ul><ul><li>Be proactive: do before it’s due </li></ul><ul><li>Start with the worst part first </li></ul><ul><li>Reward yourself for progress! </li></ul>
    14. 14. Procrastination strategies <ul><li>Distinguish between the routine tasks and those that must be done well </li></ul><ul><li>Set aside time for routine work </li></ul><ul><li>Make realistic appraisals: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How good is good enough? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is the allotted time reasonable to do it? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do you have the skills/resources you need? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can the job be delegated, subcontracted, eliminated? </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. “ Nuclear option” for procrastination <ul><li>Strict personal rule: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>NO working late </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NO working weekends </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NO taking work home </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If it doesn’t get done during normal work hours, it doesn’t get done. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cf. Scott Adams’ OA5 management model, The Dilbert Principle , ch. 26 </li></ul>
    16. 16. So…let’s get organized! <ul><li>Greg Vetter, Find it in 5 Seconds </li></ul><ul><li>This is one system of many </li></ul><ul><ul><li>David Allen, Getting Things Done </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jeff Davidson, Complete Idiot’s Guide to Managing Your Time </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work! </li></ul>
    17. 17. Paper flow <ul><li>Every piece of paper’s goal is to get out of your office. </li></ul><ul><li>OATS system: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Out </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Action </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trash </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. First, clean your desk!
    19. 19. Five things on your desk: <ul><li>In box </li></ul><ul><li>Out box </li></ul><ul><li>Calendar/appointment book </li></ul><ul><li>Telephone </li></ul><ul><li>Computer </li></ul><ul><li>And the sixth: the one thing you’re working on right now </li></ul>
    20. 20. But what about my… <ul><li>… stapler? </li></ul><ul><li>… pens? </li></ul><ul><li>… coffee cup? </li></ul><ul><li>… Rolodex? </li></ul><ul><li>… sorting folders? </li></ul><ul><li>… potted plant? </li></ul><ul><li>… stress ball? </li></ul><ul><li>… calculator? </li></ul><ul><li>… paper clips? </li></ul><ul><li>… kid’s photo? </li></ul><ul><li>… note pad? </li></ul><ul><li>… trophy? </li></ul><ul><li>… ref. books? </li></ul><ul><li>… candy dish? </li></ul>
    21. 21. Action Categories <ul><li>To Do </li></ul><ul><li>Routine </li></ul><ul><li>Projects </li></ul><ul><li>Tickler </li></ul>
    22. 22. Action category: Tickler <ul><li>Use for date-specific items only </li></ul><ul><li>NOT for items with a deadline! </li></ul><ul><li>44 Files: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1-31 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>January-December </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pending </li></ul></ul>
    23. 23. Action category: Routine <ul><li>Tasks that you do routinely </li></ul><ul><li>Gather like tasks together </li></ul><ul><li>Doing them all at once increases efficiency </li></ul><ul><li>Unspecified number of files </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Call, Read, Send, Expense Report, Travel Arrangements, Fill Out, Copy, Order, Review, Monthly Report, Bills, etc. </li></ul></ul>
    24. 24. Action category: To Do <ul><li>8 files: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A, B, C </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1, 2, 3, 4, 5 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A: Very Important tasks </li></ul><ul><li>B: Important tasks </li></ul><ul><li>C: Somewhat Important tasks </li></ul><ul><li>1-5: The top five tasks, which you will be working on during Quiet Time </li></ul>
    25. 25. Action category: Projects <ul><li>1 file for each project </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Project name </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Each file contains a Project sheet, Step sheets, and support material </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t work out of Project files per se </li></ul><ul><li>Step sheets go into To Do category; work them from there. </li></ul>
    26. 26. Where do the files go? <ul><li>File drawers, hanging folders: anything that will fit comfortably </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Papers, photos, envelopes, </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bookshelf for format-specific files: Support > Books, Support > Binders </li></ul><ul><li>Drawers: tools, supplies </li></ul><ul><li>Shelf or credenza: larger 3-D objects </li></ul>
    27. 27. By the way… <ul><li>Arrange your computer the same way! </li></ul><ul><li>Store your files in categories </li></ul><ul><li>E-mail folders, too </li></ul><ul><li>Process your e-mail 3 times daily </li></ul><ul><li>Keep processing and producing separate! </li></ul>
    28. 28. A Day in the Life of a Good Time Manager
    29. 29. Don’t schedule every minute <ul><li>Flexibility is adaptability </li></ul><ul><li>Things come up </li></ul><ul><li>Free time is not wasted </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Thinking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Planning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creativity </li></ul></ul>
    30. 30. Start with the In Box <ul><li>Everything that comes into your office goes into the In Box first!! </li></ul><ul><li>Process your In Box 3 times daily </li></ul><ul><li>Do not work (produce) out of your In Box </li></ul>
    31. 31. Processing your In Box <ul><li>Stand </li></ul><ul><li>Take an item, look at it </li></ul><ul><li>Out, Action, Trash or Support? </li></ul><ul><li>Decide the Category and the File </li></ul><ul><li>Use your senses </li></ul><ul><li>Repeat </li></ul>
    32. 32. Schedule some Quiet Time <ul><li>Quiet Time is when you work on your To Do category </li></ul><ul><li>About 20% of your total work time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>90 min. every day is ideal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Same time each day if possible </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Schedule it like a meeting with yourself </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You’re busy, not to be interrupted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No phone, no e-mail, no visitors </li></ul></ul>
    33. 33. Get out of my head, get into my file! <ul><li>Carry 3x5 cards around with you </li></ul><ul><li>Anything you think about, write it down and put it in your To Do! </li></ul>
    34. 34. Overfiling <ul><li>Don’t ask “Where can I put this so I’ll find it again if I need it?” </li></ul><ul><li>Ask “What will happen if I want it and it’s gone?” </li></ul><ul><li>If the answer is “minor inconvenience” or less… </li></ul>
    35. 35. Get rid of it if: <ul><li>It’s replaceable </li></ul><ul><li>It’s a duplicate </li></ul><ul><li>It’s outdated </li></ul><ul><li>It’s a hard copy of a computer file </li></ul><ul><li>Someone else can keep it </li></ul><ul><li>Someone else already is keeping it </li></ul><ul><li>It’s not yours to decide on / act on </li></ul><ul><li>You don’t use it any more </li></ul><ul><li>It’s part of a CYA file </li></ul>
    36. 36. Interruptions <ul><li>Part of the job description! </li></ul><ul><li>Hard to block out uninterrupted time </li></ul><ul><li>Unnecessary: avoid, or end quickly </li></ul><ul><li>Necessary: handle at once </li></ul><ul><li>Untimely (necessary but inconvenient): reschedule </li></ul>
    37. 37. Avoiding interruptions <ul><li>Remove yourself </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In space: work at home, in an unused conference room, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In time: work during off-peak hours </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Protect yourself </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Close your door </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get a colleague to run interference for you (return the favor) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t answer the phone—use voice mail </li></ul></ul>
    38. 38. Overcommitment <ul><li>As libraries are asked to do more without more resources, library staff are asked to do more without more time </li></ul><ul><li>Failure to say NO because of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Desire to please everyone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t want to thwart supervisor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dedication to customer service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unrealistic idea of own abilities/commitments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Just didn’t think before saying yes </li></ul></ul>
    39. 39. How to say No <ul><li>Never say Yes without thinking about it </li></ul><ul><li>Offer a counterproposal or alternative </li></ul><ul><li>Keep explanations short & simple </li></ul><ul><li>Head off requests before they are made </li></ul><ul><li>Psych yourself up to say No </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask what’s the worst that could happen if you say No </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be firm; control your body language </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be polite! </li></ul>
    40. 40. Thank You for Attending! <ul><li>Questions? </li></ul><ul><li>Russell Palmer </li></ul><ul><li>800-999-8558 </li></ul><ul><li>ext. 4854 </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>