Working Better

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has gone well and you have a lovely weekend planned. I’m looking forward to some relaxation this weekend. But before we get to the weekend, we have to get through Friday. I’ve always found Fridays to be both a great day to get a lot of things done (nothing like an impending weekend to fire up the desire to get as many things off one’s plate as possible) and a day that requires a constant fight of inertia (because, really who wants to work when it is almost the weekend?). So I thought it fitting to share some articles about how to work better so we can get done what we need to and enjoy our weekend free from worrying about work. So let’s get to it.

I think we can all agree that sometimes email can be overwhelming. I know I’m not a fan of having a full inbox of emails. So I was happy to see this post on Lifehacker about the key to better work? Email less, flow more. I am a total convert to not having my email on all day long and only checking email a few times a day. I’ve told my colleagues that I don’t have email on all the time so if it is an emergency, or if they just need a really quick answer, they should call me. I love having less interruptions from the constantly updating inbox and also feel like a huge productivity pro when I can quickly run through all my emails when I do log in instead of breaking up my workflow on my other work. How do you like to manage your email, dear readers, and how do you manage to get into your flow state at work?

I think we can all agree that part of working better is knowing how to avoid burnout. I love this suggestion for doing what you love regularly and not having an existential crisis about trying to figure out what you really love to do. Great quick tip and pretty easy to implement, especially if you are not wasting all your time with email (see above).

Finally, I recommend this read on the biggest pitfalls of long term goals and how to beat them. We may be way past new year’s day, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t have long-term goals that we are working on. I really like these tips as they are concrete and I can relate to all the stages that the article outlines. Hopefully you find some good take-aways that will help you with your next long term goal.

I think the most important thing to remember to working better is to focus on your most important tasks and figure out how to optimize the other tasks you have to do (like email, for example) so they don’t take up the best, most productive hours of your day. For me, single tasking, batching emails, and writing down daily to do lists help me work better. Having lists of longer term goals and sitting down each month to determine what progress I’m making and where I need to go next, help me with my longer term goals. Finally, for me, figuring out how to fuse some of my non-library passions with the work I do in the library is re-energizing my passion for librarianship and scholarship more generally, which I think is a great thing.

So, dear readers, how do you work better?

I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing (and possibly even email-free weekend), dear readers. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Life, Quiet, and Exams Week

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your week has gone well and that you have a relaxing weekend planned. I’m looking forward to the weekend after this last week of exams on campus. The end of a school term always seems like a good time to look back and take stock of what I’ve learned and what I want to implement in the coming terms, both in terms of teaching and life, so I have a few articles to share with you today in that vein. Let’s get to it.

One of the things that teaching always reminds me about is that, in order to be a good teacher, you have to a balance of empathy and not caring if your students like you. You need empathy to relate to your students and learn from them and help them grow. But you also really need to have a thick skin and standards that you expect them to achieve in order to be a professional and fair instructor. I have never been a “cool” person and never will be a cool person. I’m a librarian who teaches at a state college and is serious about typography and letterpress and research. I’m so not even near the cool meter and that is totally okay with me. So I don’t need to be the cool professor that everyone likes or the professor who everyone likes because my class is an “easy A.” I can be the empathetic, earnest, awkward, occasionally funny professor who really wants her students to learn and will spend extra time helping outside of class, but also has explicit, clear guidelines on what it takes to pass my class and no, the fact that the computer ate your paper that you had 8 weeks to write is not a valid excuse professor, too. So in that spirit, I share Lifehacker’s article on how to stop giving a f*ck about what people think. Be bold, live your life, be kind, and be who you are, even if it is not in anyway “cool.”

Also, while you’re reading about ways to be okay with living your life on your terms, you might want to click over and read 10 painfully obvious truths everyone forgets too soon. I love break week because work slows down and I have more space to think and plan for the next quarter, both at work and in life and the projects that I want to get done and also the spaces I want for creating outside of work. It’s never too late or too early to start being and living how you want to and remembering that while we are not our jobs, we can become our work so create the work you want to be.

Finally, if all this talk about work is stressing you out, check out the busy person’s guide to reducing stress. Stress is totally a killer to calm, quiet, and peace in all aspects to life, so stress reduction is really important. I’m all for petting a purring cat, having a cup of tea, doing some yoga, and reading a good book. Oh, and dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is good, too.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, dear readers. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Staying Current

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that you’ve had a lovely week. My week has been productive, but very busy. So when I was thinking of what to write about for this post, I thought a lot about what I do to stay current with trends, technology, and news in librarianship. I think it can be very easy to get overwhelmed with all the avenues of information in the world and it is definitely easy to feel information overloaded, too. So today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite blogs and websites that I use to keep updated on things. This list is by no means comprehensive and I’d love to hear about your favorite sites in the comments. So let’s get to it.

For tech news and tips, my favorite source is (no surprise) Lifehacker. The writers post timely articles and good snippets of advice for technology and productivity. While I don’t always agree with everything posted, it is a great one-stop-shopping for tech news.

I’m also a fan of Gizmodo, but less for tech news and more for the crazy stories about technology and other random pop culture things. Definitely a must for skimming through at the end of the day for me.

Also, I adore danah boyd’s work and blog: danah boyd ǀ apophenia. Lots of interesting writing and great research. I’m looking forward to reading her new book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.

In library-focused blogs, I really enjoy INFOdocket for keeping up with what’s happening all over the world in libraries. I’m also a fan of Stephen Abram’s Stephen’s Lighthouse, mainly for the interesting infographics and graphics he shares. And it is always good to remember that really important news items and trends are blogged about by multiple blogs so you are sure to catch a piece of noteworthy news somewhere. (I remind myself of that so I don’t try to keep up with 500 blogs!)

I really do love typography, so naturally the I Love Typography blog is a favorite of mine.

For lovely, clever comics that come in handy for information literacy classes, my favorite is definitely xkcd. Always awesome when there is a new biology one I can use.

And because I love his work and his blog is a bunch of fun to, I highly recommend Neil Gaiman’s Journal.

A newer favorite thing is definitely Welcome to Night Vale. We enjoyed listening to the podcast driving down to see family this holiday season and always look forward to a new episode. I’d recommend giving it a chance, especially the summer reading program.

Finally, I love to bake and therefore love Joy the Baker’s blog. Tons of wonderful recipes to bake and to share. Our student assistants at the library are particularly fond of the chocolate bundt cake.

I leave you with 28 beautiful quotes about libraries from Stephen’s Lighthouse. Absolutely lovely.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of whatever you want it to be. I’ll be back next week. Allons-y!

Friday Tips

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your week has gone well and you have a lovely weekend planned. Today I have a grab bag of tips to share as we get into both the happiest (and sometimes most stressful) part of the year. So let’s just get into it.

Airport travel seems inevitable this time of year. Unless, of course, you find yourself on a road trip. But if you are flying, you should really check out Lifehacker’s article on how to make the airport less crappy and more fun. I completely agree that airport time is much better if you are not rushed and if you already know the layout of the airport. Also, if the airport has free wifi, that always makes things better.

While a lot of us are getting into the holiday mood, we still have to be productive at work and so I share Lifehacker’s article on a 3 step alternative to a machine like workday. This really is a must read and more importantly, a must implement strategy. I’m a huge fan of single tasking and creating a schedule, when possible, that matches your productivity and energy peaks throughout the day. While this is not always possible with meetings and service point schedules, it is good to maintain an overall balance so you can get more done without falling into the trap of burnout. If nothing else, step away from your email. You’ll be amazed how much more you get done without the constant notification of an incoming message every few minutes (and you’ll also be able to respond in a timely manner; waiting a few hours for a response is not the end of the world and if it really is urgent, the sender will call you). Also, remember to breathe!

If you are in higher education, or just read the news headlines, you can’t escape hearing about MOOCs. So it is great that you can find a Compendium on MOOcs by Educause. I still need to go through all the resources, but it is really a good place to get more information about MOOCs and educate yourself if your library is considering implementing and/or supporting MOOCs.

Finally, I had to share this Kickstarter for the Book House. Yay for bookstores and helping independent bookstore owners!

I hope you have a fantastic weekend full of relaxation, fun, and good food. I’ll be back next week. Allons-y!

Productivity and Other Stuff

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has gone well and you are ready for a fun weekend. Today I want to share a couple of productivity articles and a couple of other links to blogs and posts I’ve enjoyed recently. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them, too. So let’s just get into it.

First, a couple of productivity articles. I quite like this idea to set aside prefrontal Mondays for thinking and planning. Makes a lot of sense and I’m going to see how it works in action for me on this coming workweek. Although it will have to wait until after Monday since Monday is happily a holiday! (Also, Happy [early] Veteran’s Day.)

I also enjoyed the article on Marie Curie’s best productivity tricks. Good advice for anyone in navigating the political environment when trying to get things done and a good reminder to always be professional.

And then on to my hat tips to some excellent blogs and posts. You should go read does this sound like fandom to you? Great post and really, we all should be helping to create spaces where it is safe to be a fan, love fandoms and fanfic, without worrying about getting bullied. Really, what’s up with that? (Also, another note, I’m incredibly biased about you going and checking out this blog as it is written by one of my best friends who also happens to be married to one of my other dear friends whose blog I told you to check out on Tuesday. Just ’cause I’m biased, doesn’t make it not a good post to read and a fun blog to subscribe to).

My other online shout-out is to the new blog, Stories for my wife. Go to read it for a couple of lovely short stories written by a librarian and archivist and creative writer. (Again, incredibly biased about this one, too, as it is written by my husband. Again, just ’cause I’m biased, doesn’t mean it isn’t a lovely read.)

Finally, for happy thoughts of vacation and island fun, check out the photo below:

Moa at Poipu Beach

Moa at Poipu Beach

Have a wonderful weekend full of whatever you’d like it to be full of. I’ll be back next week. Allons-y!

Grab Bag of Tips for Friday

Happy Friday, dear readers! Can you believe that we’ve finished up a week in November already? I can’t. Anyway, today’s post is a grab bag of tips and interesting reports that I wanted to share today. No real theme other than I thought these were interesting and/or useful and wanted to share.

This Lifehacker article is both useful and something you could do this weekend: how to make your entire internet life more secure in one day. Always good to be up on internet security.

For a couple of reports that I recently read (and really enjoyed), I thought I’d share California Digital Library’s CDL Strategic Themes and CDL Annual Report 2012-2013. I’m super-biased when it comes to the CDL and the OAC because I’ve never had anything but good experiences with the people there, our university archives is part of the OAC, and I really just think they are doing an awesome job at all their programs and are super-generous with sharing and helping out other, smaller institutions (like ours). So it was great to read a couple of documents that were easy to understand and outlined both accomplishments and goals for the coming year. I can’t wait to see what else gets rolled out and am looking forward to getting more of our archival documents into the OAC in the coming year. Nice work CDL.

I thought this was a nice article on 3 mental tricks to deal with people who annoy you. We all get annoyed, but these are some ways to at least downgrade the annoyance.

Also, because I really do enjoy being productive and getting things done, I wanted to share this infographic on how to productive. It’s quite a lovely infographic and distills a lot of very good advice into one easy to read graphic (which I know is the point of all infographics, but this one actually works).

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and I’ll be back week with more. Allons-y!

More Tips for Improving Your Workday

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your week has gone well and you are looking forward to a relaxing weekend. Today I have a selection of articles that I’ve enjoyed and thought might be helpful for you, too. Because, really, who doesn’t want to improve their workday a little bit? We spend a lot of time at work, so we might as well make the experience as pleasant and productive as possible.

So, while I know there aren’t only two communication styles and that everyone communicates in multiple ways, it is still useful to read up on some ideas of how to listen better when confronted by a colleague who may not use your preferred way of communicating. At the end of the day, communication is the most important thing (in my mind) for making it easy to work productively and happily. So understanding communication styles is really important for that to happen.

I have to say that I’m very lucky in that I share an office with one other faculty member and we get along really well. I don’t think I would do well in an open office environment. But if you have to endure the fad of open working environment, you’ll most likely want to check out Lifehacker’s article on how to stay productive.

Communication and productivity are both crucial for having a good experience at work as is confidence. Everyone suffers from a lack of confidence sometimes, so I think it is helpful to read up on how to build your confidence. And also check out the top 10 tricks for a healthier high energy workday.

Finally, who isn’t excited that October equals complimentary access to all Sage journals? Share with your friends.

I hope you have a lovely weekend. I’ll be back next week. Allons-y!

Optimizing Work

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you had a good week and are ready for a lovely weekend. Today I just want to share a few articles I’ve read that I thought were good on helping to make work better. We spend so much time at work, that who doesn’t want to make their time at work better? So dive in for some tips and ways to change your perspective to make work, well, work for you.

I’m a big believer that your perspective and attitude make a large difference in how much fun and enjoyment you get from work. I really appreicated this article from Lifehacker on how to optimize for happiness at work. Being happy at work doesn’t have to be an oxymoron! I have found over the last, crazy, start-of-school week that by consciously bringing calmness and my most caring self to my work at the reference desk that my interactions seem to be less stressful than last year and that the students walk away calmer. It’s good to find a happy place at work, even when it gets crazy. Let me know what works best for you in comments.

As long-time readers know, I’m a bit of an introvert so small talk can be difficult at times. (Though if you want to have an in-depth conversation about teaching, letterpress, or any number of topics, I’m totally the one to talk to at parties.) And no one ever wants awkwardness in conversations, so check out how to avoid the most common awkward conversations mistakes.

Also, I have to give a shout-out for Online Northwest’s call for proposals. I really enjoyed this conference when I went a few years ago. (I’m also probably a little biased because I love Oregon and it was my first professional conference after moving back to the West Coast.) I learned a lot from the conference and recommend putting in a proposal.

Finally, I wanted to share this lovely comic from Stephen’s Lighthouse, 12 types of procrastinators. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll be back next week with more tips, news, and fun. Allons-y!

There is No Secret

Hello, dear readers. I hope you are all well. I wanted to share a bit of a different post today than my usual tech, library, and archives related findings from around the web. Today I want to let you in on a secret of success; there is no secret. I feel the need to elaborate on this a bit after another year of teaching and also talking with undergraduates, graduate students, recent graduates, and early career librarians. There is no secret, only intelligent, efficient hours of work that create success. And I promise to only stand on my soapbox for a little while and leave you with something fun at the end.

Now we could talk about nepotism or how favoritism undermines a true meritocracy, but I don’t want to. Life isn’t fair and sometimes people get to ride on other’s coat-tails or seemingly get all the luck with finding jobs or being successful. But I believe the majority of people in our professions, speaking specifically about libraries and archives because they are what I know best, become successful because of hard work, grit, and an ability to see past the day-to-day grind and use what they are doing today to create the opportunities for growth in the coming years. Not to mention they have these two qualities in spades: a simple recipe: empathy and generosity.

I think that sometimes people have the false assumption that they have to be mean or unkind to get ahead at work, but I don’t believe that is necessary. It hasn’t been the case in my career thus far. Showing genuine empathy for others, being generous with sharing expertise and sharing the workload for getting things done at my work have helped me far more than being negative and unwilling to help out when needed. Being generous and kind almost assuredly makes me a more pleasant person to be around as well.

Also, putting your head down and getting work done that is important for the entire department is integral to success. You can’t just do the flashy projects, and you probably won’t get much chance to do the flashy projects, if you don’t first show that you can be counted on to get the work done that keeps the department moving along. I do a lot of scheduling and coordinating for our teaching program that isn’t flashy work, but it is incredibly important work so we can serve our students and make sure they get the classes they need. Follow-through is a key ingredient to success and that takes time and commitment.

This year has been a great year so far, with lots of long-term projects finally coming to fruition, which has been lovely. But none of it would have been possible without years of hard work and persistence for my long-term goals.

So basically what I’m trying to say is keep doing your work, keep helping others, and do make sure to tell people about what you are doing sometimes, too (while hard work will eventually get noticed, you do need to let your supervisors know what you are doing, too). It’s not an overnight way to success, but it is a lasting way to build success.

And for fun, check out this lovely TARDIS Easter Egg courtesy of Google Maps via Gizmodo.

Have a wonderful weekend! Allons-y!

Work and (Some Semblance of) a Balanced Life

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you have had a good week and have a lovely weekend to look forward to, too. Today I just wanted to share some good links on advice for trying to find and maintain some semblance of a work life balance. I think it is really important to do more than just work and to also understand how to try to create boundaries, especially with the ease of being connected all the time to work. So let’s get into the work advice.

I think this article on Lifehacker is fantastic, Don’t be a work hero. It is so important to have boundaries and be firm about those boundaries so you don’t allow work to swallow your entire day. Balance, however you define it personally, is a very good thing.

Even though you don’t want to be a work hero, you might want more responsibility so you can advance your career. Lifehacker has another good article on how to take on more responsibility at work without being a pushover. It’s important to figure out how to take on more when you are ready for growth, but avoid taking on others’ workloads. Again, boundaries are a good thing.

Finally, as long-time readers of this blog know, I am a huge fan of productivity and efficiency. One of the best ways to get more done is to be organized. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I like this article on the top 10 ways to organize and streamline your workspace. Yay for organized workspaces! I always think better with an organized and clean workspace.

So enjoy your work, but do find a balance that works for you. I truly believe that there isn’t a one size fits all for people, but remember that burning out at work does no one any good. Doing so much that you are constantly stressed and frazzled is bad for you and bad for your colleagues, too. So remember to work well and relax well. What do you do for balance, dear readers? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

And now, I’ll leave you with a lovely photo from the Great Ocean Road:

12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road

12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road

Have a great weekend, full of whatever balance of play, work, fun, and productivity works for you! Allons-y!