Thoughts at the End of the Quarter

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you had a good week and a lovely, relaxing weekend planned. I can hardly believe we are to the end of another quarter here. The fall term has gone incredibly quickly this year, although I think it always seems that way. So I just wanted to share a few thoughts at the end of the quarter with you today.

At the end of a quarter, I feel the end to step back and reflect on my work for the last ten weeks to see what I can learn and what I can do better for the next quarter. For me, reflection is key to improving my practice as a library faculty member and keeping energized about teaching, research, and service. So I thought I’d share just a few things from these reflections today that may help with your work.

1. Keen focus on one task at a time is key to accomplishing more in less time, with better outcomes and less stress. I love being productive, not getting busywork done, but being productive and helping students, doing research, and completing projects. The key to getting a lot of things done, within the same time period and with tight deadlines, is to focus intensely on one task at a time and then move to the next task. Multitasking doesn’t work for me, and I suspect doesn’t work for anyone else either, and is just a recipe for getting too stressed and not accomplishing anything by the end of the day. By really focusing on the tasks at hand, I’ve been able to get a lot of projects finished this quarter and have been able to keep my stress level to a minimum, even with unplanned tasks popping up as they often do.

2. The partner to intense focus on one task at a time is being organized and having a plan for the day. I create a to-do list for each day and an overall plan for my week and quarter, since my life at work revolves around the academic term. I always get more done if I have a plan for the day, but I also leave wiggle room in the day for unexpected tasks and meetings or students that need help in special collections right now instead of being able to make an appointment. By being both organized and flexible, I’m in control of my time and energy and am able to get through all those important and urgent tasks, as well as make progress on my longer term projects. Project management skills are so essential and I’m definitely on team daily planner.

3. Cultivate positivity and share that positive spirit with others. I totally know horrible things happen in life and at work. Some things just can’t be made better, no matter what perspective you have, but luckily these are few and far between for most of us. I’m a generally positive person; I’m lucky that I have that innate leaning, personally, but I believe everyone through meditation, reflection, whatever works for you, can cultivate positivity and it makes such a difference. A smile is really disarming and can make an anxious student more comfortable asking a question of a reference librarian. Thanking committee members for a job well done is just good manners and makes everyone more amenable to tackling the next problem on the agenda. And being positive just helps your health and your stress levels. We all have bad days, and I’m not saying I’m always perfectly positive, but I truly believe positivity makes a huge difference in our daily work and helps me get through long days and lots of report writing.

4. Really listening is one of the most powerful talents and gifts we can give each other. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it when someone gives me their full attention when I’m talking with them instead of trying to type an email at the same time. It makes me feel heard and also makes it more likely that the conversation will actually be productive. So I always make it a point to fully listen and try to empathize with the person who is speaking with me. And if I catch myself trying to do another task, I stop and refocus on the person because I know how much it means to be heard. Really listening also makes it easier to cultivate positivity in the workplace, which is also a very good thing.

I know none of the points above are new points, but I think it is important to remember them and reflect on them as we continue to do work that has the possibility of truly, positively impacting people.

And, in honor of The Hobbit, check out the news that you can 3D print your very own Key of Erebor. This almost makes me want a 3D printer.

Have a wonderful day and weekend. I’ll be back next week. Allons-y!