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Procrastination

16 Jun

Today was a beautiful sunny day. I was working from home. I got to admire the sun out through my window all day.

I couldn’t  get out and enjoy it because I have not prioritised my time well these last 3 weeks, and the cut off date for submissions to our latest Library Review is upon me. This is a long held flaw of mine: letting the pressure of close timelines be my motivator, rather than planning my work schedule well well in advance.

 

So I ask you all sincerely – what tips and tricks do you all have to avoid procrastination? 

 

 

I have got better over the last 12 months. I’ve been reading about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, about how our brain can only take so much problem solving at a time before it will just search for the most obvious fix and stick with that, about how decisionmaking should be done when we are fresh.

So now I have two types of work on my to do list – one is the new things that need to be considered and evaluated; the other is work I know how to do eg invoices to process

When I arrive in the morning (this and after lunch are apparently our freshest times for making considered decisions, although I’m not sure this takes into account whether you are a morning or evening person)
I now try and start something on the new things To Do list.
I have the energy and engagement to get through a bit. The minute I start to notice my attention is wandering though, I put it on hold, and do something off the second list
eg check my daily emails
(I am attempting Inbox Zero but only seem to be able to achieve Inbox 35)
process invoices,
load all the relevant files for each meeting that week onto my Dropbox in Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri folders

It is working well for me. I usually get bored by the administrivia pile and go back to the important work much more quickly than before. I am definitely getting more of my first To do list work completed without rushing.

I’m also trying to remind myself that when I put something off because I fear it or don’t know how to start – it usually  turns into something interesting when timelines force me to put everything aside and just have a stab at it.

 

However even with all this I ended up putting off this submission writing (not beating myself up too much as we have been really busy at work) until today. despite dreading the formality and writing load, I have enjoyed writing them in the end, felt more engaged with a long term plan for my section and wider place of work, yet realised I could have done more credit to them with a bit more time.

Perhaps I just need to use Twitter like some of our postgrad students – and put out a call at times that I am going to #shutupandwrite – and if anyone sees me online to tell me to get back to work.

What’s the next step in innovation for libraries?

14 Jun

Today someone asked me to “describe what would be a brave, bold step in your library? What changes would you propose to increase innovation?”.

Now i knew I was a little more cynical and jaded than 5 years ago, but I really couldn’t think of anything. For someone who spends as much time looking for challenges (or whinging about what should change as some would say) that’s a surprise.

Not so long ago I would have had an instant list:

Get rid of the webopac and have a single search box. 
However my wonderful library systems colleague has just introduced me to the idea of ubiquitous discovery, and how we should have all paths leading to our content, as the internet is so broad we cannot imagine all the ways people may want to choose to approach.
On a side note here: I fell into a day dream of the internet as a ocean, and our content as an island, and library information staff as Border Control police trying to say webopac access was shut and if you were on that boat you had to turn around.

Burn down the old unused material in my offsite store. 
However we currently have enough storage for the next few years, and the pressure is off. I can now value that fact that our Mills & Boon collection (the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere I believe) has led to 3 PhD’s, and that one of our current history professors is assessing his students knowledge through asking them to read old VCE history texts and write what has changed in historical writing. That value changes over time.

 

Buy hundreds of copies of our textbooks so every student can access one
Now I fear that if I do that publishers will truly never have the financial pressure to actually move to a new model of electronic textbook publishing. One where we can actually buy multiple copies of electronic textbooks without having to issue individual electronic keys.

Other pet peeves have happened now – like forced information literacy classes replaced by online context specific help; endless racks of shelving replaced by creative study spaces between the books; queues replaced by self checkout machines; RSI generators replace by self checkin machines; artists in libraries (see http://www.lib.uts.edu.au/about-us/artist-residence-program and die of jealousy).

So now I wonder what I would wish for?

Perhaps a giant UX lab as a translucent walled pyramid in the middle of the library. Where students can read about usability on their research and get involved.

Perhaps a Victorian College of the Arts student run mural on the regularly vandalised wall of my offsite store, painted by students from the secondary college across the wall (and hence hopefully fully aware of the local graffiti artists and able to tell them to keep their hands off the mural).

Definitely a better interface for agreed resource sharing schemes, so that students could do a single search for an item and be told where they can order it from.

Perhaps truly fun collaborative play in our library, such as a vampire skin on the library catalogue.

What would you do if you were being brave and bold in your library space? 

Or for those as old as me “The Bold and The Beautiful” …

 

 

 

 

Building on #blogjune – collaboration

13 Jun

whilst #blogjune in itself is useful,

(it gets me thinking about something in a positive way every day),

I remind myself each year to try and harness the discipline, creativity and enthusiasm generated from this shared activity into an ongoing collaborative practice. I rarely do follow up for long.

So this year I am looking for something that we can accomodate into busy lives, that skills us by practice, that can overcome geographic distance and is creative. @paulhagon and @malbooth did not seem to find the same level of excitement in #slyjuly as I did (they lack imagination).

So I discussed with @sallyturbitt the idea of sharing professional reading – link here 

I got some lovely feedback from @flexnib and @katedavis – link here

As I learn from doing I thought I may as well make this something to explore on a platform that I need to talk to students about. So I had a look at what we recommend for students as collaboration tools – link here

Then Sally did a wonderful blog post on online meeting forums – link here

Then I cheated and used my tried and tested “get answers quick” trick (crowdsoure from people on Twitter with more diligence than myself) – thread starts here

Possible options to try:

  • Feedly
  • Refworks
  • Evernote (I like this idea as I use this already but haven’t explored it)
  • Trello
  • Wunderlist
  • Google Hangouts
  • Dropbox
  • Blackboard community
  • Yammer group
  • @troveaustralia list of readings (would have advantage of listing all the local libraries others could read the books from)
  • WordPress: Would work with a monthly book review on this blogsite and then everyone else who reads it feeds into the comments
  • Goodreads
  • Librarything

Maybe I should create a #23professionalreadingthings

Anyone want to join me on shared professional reading? Vote for one of the above and say why.
Please add your contact handle in the comments. 

Good platform for a bookclub?

10 Jun

#blogjune has grown from @flexnib original hashtag idea into a self sustaining, ongoing challenge. It itself has inspired other thoughts into reality, one off activities, ongoing practices.

I’d love to hear from all of you out there what #blogjune has led to for you; either as blog posts or in the comments. Who knows – it could lead me to FINALLY do a presentation with @flexnib at a library conference somewhere on “Innovative ways to approach professional development” #notlikely.

@paulhagon has still not accepted my brilliant (and completely unpaid) professional development opportunity for #SlyJuly but the month is still young and I may yet wear him down. Or @malbooth and I may bring it out ourselves as a Christmas special (no technical ability will be provided in such an offering).

Something I would like to do though is start sharing our reading on professional development somewhere central. @SallyTurbitt and I are going to read the same books and try and share out thoughts.

So what collaborative platforms are you all into? What do you recommend for such a format?

And of course you are all invited to join …

Twitter why?

9 Jun

I often get asked why I am on social media. I think it’s a strange question from other librarians, as it’s such a part of our work. I especially don’t like the passive aggressive approach “You must have so much spare time if you can be on social media”. I think it saves me times, especially if I need to crowdsource information.

So I thought I’d lay out some positives about Twitter tonight.

1) Connects you with others in your profession with your interests

I joined Twitter after a VALA conference many years ago. I had met and befriended a lot of librarians at this conference who had my sense of humour, liked to talk about challenges and liked technology. We had used Twitter throughout the conf to share what we were hearing in different sessions as well as where to meet up in the breaks.

So we continued to use it once the conference was over. It allowed us to have quick fast conversations on emerging topics/gossip, share jokes and share links to pertinent research to read. It is the most up to date I have ever been in a professional development sense, for the least effort.

Twitter established a real network despite geographic distances between us. A group of librarians interested in the same things, pushing boundaries and supporting each other. I am still in connection with that network and it has broadened. Some of the members are now University Librarians, some are still cranky sideline hecklers like myself, and @malbooth has managed to combine the two. Many members have moved jobs repeatedly (whilst I have resolutely stayed still) and yet we can all still shoot off a Twitter message to each other at any point.

So find a social networking tool for yourself (doesn’t need to be Twitter), find your tribe, and gain yourself a support network outside your current study/work group. 

2) Social media is fun.

See this fabulous twitter conversation from the other day https://twitter.com/kimtairi/status/872705291611127808 wherelse are you going to go from presentations to glittery cat turds, to the Coles jelly aisle?

3) Twitter really allows introverts to actively participate in conversations. For extroverts like me, who can exhaust people in a face to face conversation, this is a great tool to engage with others at their preferred time and level of participation.

I watch a great SBS2 tv show called “If you are the one”. It’s a fantastically forthright Chinese dating show. Whilst watching, reading subtitles I add in an extra level of difficulty by tweeting commentary with the #ifyouaretheone

I’ve met virtually a whole heap of funny, informative, witty people who also love this show. We banter, exchange background information and have established a drinking game. The point is I have also met many of this self elected #wanggang in person. A few are as loud as I am. A few are as crazy (I joked that  @breakfastbatman should wear a Batman suit when we met up so that we would know who she was AND SHE DID. It was amazing.) however many are not. They are quiet people who look exhausted after a few hours with me. Yet we are still ongoing virtual friends – they cheer me up when I’m down, we know bits of each other’s lives, I would live a less rich life without them.

So whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, find a social media tool that will allow you to meet a diverse range of personalities, on your own terms. 

4) 140 character limit. This is great. You have to be concise. Besides being a great skill for every manager to learn, it means that if you follow leaders in your profession who like to keep up with professional literature e.g. @malbooth @kimtairi @drmattfinch  @sirrexkat just reading a few brief entries will give you links to current open access reading on emerging trends, usually from a much broader field of disciplines than the library journals will give you.

Happy long weekend people.

Creativity via a co-lab and sitting with a “messy” process

7 Jun

So today has been a great day. I was invited to a HR collaboration session based on design thinking, to talk about what is needed in the University of Melbourne recruitment process.

It was so much fun engaging with other people who actively want to talk about change. Everyone in the room was a volunteer who wanted to be there. The engagement levels were subsequently high and the appetite for trying different processes was good. A huge shoutout to Kerry Callenbach for initiating this process and pushing through initial concerns to get us to try something where we didn’t have complete understanding/control. I’m part of a leadership training group that Kerry is coordinating, and participants have been pushing and pushing for strategic level work projects to engage in with our training; so this was an opportunity Kerry created for the group.

How people responded to the design process was interesting. It was new for most, explained very much on the run, and (in the words of a Twitter conversation the other day) the process was a little “messy”. I liked that I am now able to sit with the messiness and try it out, felt freeing by the end, although unclear at the start. Other participants were less able to engage if the process was unknown to them, and started to disengage. Neither reaction is right/wrong but I felt pleased that some recent conversations/reading I have done has opened me up to coping with messiness more, and that I subsequently got more out of this session, than I would have if I had felt it was a known process where I was more on automatic pilot.

One of the topics that arose was how many people felt that selection criteria could be restrictive, and that open conversations and gut feel about people worked better in recruiting the applicants who would go on to best fit the work culture. I have a very strong reaction to people making “gut feel” choices and usually start ranting about bias and prejudices. Being open to messiness and multiple ways of approaching conversations allowed me to make some of my points in this session AND also to listen to why others believed so strongly in their view. I learnt that many see diversity in the workplace as different to cultural fit; that they agreed with my points about hiring a diverse workforce, they believed their focus on instinct helps find applicants with the same workplace values and alignment, and who are thus more likely to be able to contribute in the workforce on similar value lines. This led me to think this might even render prejudices against diversity less likely to arise from work based conflicts.

We did the first two steps of the Stanford 5 step process:


The best bit was hearing directly from customers. We had some very brave (still on probation) newly hired staff who came and talked through their recent recruitment experience. They were very candid and there were some horror stories in there, and also some more general frustrations. It reminded me that now I am not on a service desk i only infrequently hear the direct customer voice; also it reminded me of the difference in what someone will say to you in the customer interaction, as opposed to what they will say to you thinking back in an event, in a space where they feel free to say anything.

So a high energy day for me. Hope everyone else had a great day. 

Please put up some blogs about what engages you in your workplace, or in the comments here. 

Management books you would recommend …

6 Jun

I’ve just realised the wonderful laziness of crowdsourcing.

Instead of preparing my own reading list, I can ask you all.

So I am interested in books that will improve my management style, will increase my creativity, will engage others. Below is the list of books I have waiting for me to read already. Please send me your suggestions for future reading and why you loved them.


Change by Design  by Tim Brown

This was recommended by a friend who is in learning technology. It also got a mention in various design or UX podcasts. The author Tim Brown is the CEO and President of IDEO, which appears to be some sort of cutting edge design thinking company. I hope by the time I have finished this book to have Design thinking fully explained to me 😉

Mindset The New Psychology of Success by Carol S Dweck, Ph.D.

Ok I’m attempting to get past the fact that the author needs to list her tertiary achievements on her book cover, as part of her name. Carol Dweck is a Stanford University psychologist who claims her research shows that a “growth” mindset will do more for your success than ability or talent. Obviously I’m hoping reading this book means I can stay on my sofa thinking positive thoughts and be more successful than when I got up and went to work each day and used my talents.

Leading Mindfully by Amanda Sinclair

Amanda is a management academic at University of Melbourne, whom I first discovered when reading the fabulously titled Leadership for the Disillusioned. Talk about book appearing at the right time! I just finished the Mindfulness in May program and am hoping this book helps me keep engaged in mindfullness whilst at work. I’m also hanging out for a women in leadership book she is currently working on with the inspiring Christine Nixon, due around July hopefully.

Good Morning Mr. Sarra by Chris Sarra

Heard Chris speaking about leadership and educating Australian indigenous children at a wonderful conference last week #wearecic  This is the story of his life journey so far, and what has led him to develop his ‘strong and smart’ philosophy for education. He is part of a growing number of voices arguing that diversity in education should mean approaching problems differently, not lowering standards and expectations. Will be a good challenge for me, as I am not sure extra pressure helps kids learn, and need to read more to see this philosophy more positively.

Hooked How leaders come to engage and inspire with storytelling by Gabrielle Dolan and Yamini Naidu

Last year I was part of a really well run mentoring program by CAVAL. The program included 4 different networking seminars for mentors and mentees, with a broad and interesting range of speakers. Gabrielle Dolan spoke to us about the need to communicate business ideas as stories, and she was practical, engaging and gave evidence for why this is important. Senior management in MPOW are abuzz with the power of business storytelling at the moment, so this could actually help me communicate better at work.

So if you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments for me.

I’m very interested in neuroscience at the moment, especially where intellectual concepts are communicated in plain English.