All posts tagged “sanity

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Summer is Slipping Through My Desperate Grasp

I wrote an email to a friend/former colleague this morning, and along with the obligatory “I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to respond” statement, I included, what I thought at the time was a funny, albeit melodramatic line:

Summer is slipping through my desperate grasp!

After I wrote it I sat and stared at it for far too long. I realized it was not so much funny as just sort of true.

At the end of the spring semester my interim library director and I agreed that I would work from home on Fridays. It would be a chance for me to work on  writing projects, do some much needed reading and research, think about teaching and pedagogy in a deeper way, and begin work on my tenure file. It worked exceedingly well in June. Coffee in hand every day, I managed to submit a chapter proposal, write some blog posts, devour Feminist Pedagogy for Library Instruction (which is amazing, btw), and finally take the time to actually read all the critlib writings I’ve been wanting to read.

Then July happened.

I took a vacation. I fell behind on my writing. New projects started to pile up, and suddenly the things I wanted to do–the things that helped me recharge–were no longer the most pressing. I started letting others add Friday meetings to my schedule. In short, I stopped protecting my time.

Now it’s August 2 and I am living in a mild state of paralyzing panic. I know what needs to get done and I know I will get it done, but I also know that what I love–the research, the writing, the reading and connecting with others–is taking a backseat at the moment.

How do I bring it to the forefront again? How do you do it?

My new library director is certainly an ally in my efforts to make time for meaningful work, but I struggle to find that time for myself. I know I will not wake up at 4am to exercise or write. I know I will not work on research or interesting library projects after I do dishes and put my son to sleep and take a shower in the evening. How then, can I find space for personally meaningful work in my existing day? How can I recharge and bring the same excitement I had at the beginning of the summer to the start of the fall semester?

Answers are welcome, as always!

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New Year’s Rez List: Library Edition

I don’t normally do New Year’s resolutions. I certainly have hopes and aspirations at the start of every new year–exercise more, go to bed earlier, eat fewer tortillas, watch less tv, etc.–but I never resolve to strictly adhere to them throughout the following twelve months.

I do however, feel compelled to at least gather a few library-related aspirations together. I spent much of last year wishing I’d done things a bit differently at work, so this year I’m going to stop wishing and start making some changes.

1. Write more. When my Google calendar alerts pop up, I pay attention. So I’m going to schedule some writing time for myself every week. It could be a blog post, work on an opinion piece, or if I’m lucky, the start of a new scholarly article or book chapter. I love writing but I don’t often make the time to do it. I don’t want to squash spontaneous inspiration, but when that doesn’t happen, sometimes you just need to write something. Period.

2. Stop trying to multi-task. You don’t do it well. Despite my best efforts. I cannot blog-email-Facebook-read-Spotify-listen at once. One thing at a time is a good rule of thumb for me.

3. Free yourself from the shackles of email. I don’t need to have my email tab open at all times. I don’t need to reply to every email right away. I can delete messages and will, frequently. Sometimes a phone call is the right thing to do.

4. Follow through. I have several projects going on at the moment, and rather than take on new ones, I want to make sure that what I’m working on now is either completed or well-maintained. New and shiny is always exciting, but sometimes the familiar can surprise and fulfill you.

5. Value your time. This one is vague, I know, but it’s intentionally so. As librarians we’re so conditioned to be grateful when colleagues and patrons want our help that we often sacrifice our own time to help others. Yes, we are in a helping profession, but we are professionals with our own responsibilities and interests. To protect my own peace of mind and stave off burnout, I will place a premium on my own time, both at work and with my family.

What are your work-related resolutions, aspirations, or hopes for the new year?

Ball Fight by Flickr user David Goehring
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Ball Fight by Flickr user David Goehring

Ball Fight by Flickr user David Goehring

React: To change in response to a stimulus.

Since the fall semester started all I have been doing is reacting. You need an information literacy session next week? Let me schedule that for you. You need help with your lit review? Let me look at your research question. You noticed something looking strange on the website? Let me update that CSS a little. There’s a call for conference programs? Quick, let me submit a proposal.

Everything I do at work is something I have done before as a librarian. Nothing is out of the realm of normal librarian duties and almost all of this is work I typically enjoy doing. Yet I find myself annoyed, stressed, and at times unenthusiastic. It’s not the work that underwhelms me at the moment, it’s the way that I’m going about the work: I’m on autopilot.

As exciting as the start of a new semester can be, it can also feel like an onslaught. I’ve been so busy trying to check things off my to-do list that I haven’t taken any time to think about the work that I’m doing. I’m not going about my work in an intentional, purposeful way, and the stress that it causes is catching up with me. I recently read a post by Information Tyrannosaur Andy Burkhardt who suggested asking yourself “What do I love doing?” and refocusing your energies in that direction.

At the moment I have classes to plan, web advertisements to design and research guides to revamp, but I’m choosing not to do them. I think that most people would say I am creating more stress for myself by not using my time productively, but I for me, taking the time to stop, think, and write this blog post is a way of refocusing my energy and reviving my librarian mojo. I need space to reflect on my teaching, explore new project ideas, and hash out ideas. This blog is my often neglected pet project that I think is ready to be move to a more integrated role in my professional life. As I write I give myself the opportunity to think about the work that I do, which not only makes my work better, but makes me feel better about my work.