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Don’t Be A Flake!

August 29, 2014

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you had a lovely week and are looking forward to a great weekend. If you are in the United States, then you probably are looking forward to the long weekend of Labor Day as I know I am. But before we get to the weekend, I want to take this post to write about something I’ve been thinking about for a while as I’m wrapping up summer projects. I want to share a very important and simple tip for getting ahead at work, getting respect, and actually getting things done: don’t be a flake! Let me explain.

We all know what a flake is or what flaking behavior is, right? Well, just to make sure we are all on the same page, flaking is not holding up your end of the deal, canceling plans at the last minute, or not coming through on a promise. At work, this means not getting your assignment done on time and therefore holding up the team’s work, forgetting to send in a report that you said you would, or dropping a project at the last minute because suddenly you are too busy to actually get the work done. While no one is perfect and everyone (and I mean everyone) forgets something occasionally, repeatedly flaking is bad both in personal life and at work.

The best solution? Don’t be a flake! It’s like Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” You don’t try not to flake on people, you just don’t do it.

If this means you have to keep multiple calendars, to-do lists, and set reminders for yourself, then you do it. If it means that you have to actually take a moment and think about committing to an extra project, task, or committee, you do it before you say yes. It isn’t complicated, but it can be hard to change a behavior, especially if it has become your default setting. But if you do, I bet you’ll see huge benefits as you become known as a person whose word can be trusted and who always gets their work done, no excuses.

The great thing about becoming someone whose word is trusted is that you find that you get more opportunities. People want to work with you and come to you with interesting things. They know they can count on you to help out, pull your weight, and that they won’t be left scrambling to put out fires at the last minute when you’re not around to do the work. It may take a while to rebuild that kind of trust if you’ve been flaking for some time at work, but it can be done.

This is especially important in the library world, which is small and word can get around if you are prone to flaking on work, even if everyone swears you are the nicest person ever. I don’t really care if you are nice if I can’t depend on you to get things done after you’ve promised.

The wonderful thing to is that when you have your fallible human moment, as we all do, and something slips by or something comes up and you didn’t get something done or simply can’t and need to ask for help, you’ll be amazed at how many people are willing to help you. This is because you’ve helped them and it’s a virtuous cycle. Stopping flaky behavior doesn’t mean you have to be perfect; it means you have to keep your word and when life happens, you let people know so your network can help you, just like you’ve helped them.

Remember flakiness is only good in biscuits and pie crusts, not in the workplace.

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

Tuesday Fun

August 26, 2014

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! At the end of another month, how did that happen? Today I have the usual assortment of fun for your Tuesday break. Today’s installment features pie crust, DIY couch sleeves, and a transforming bike. How could that not be a fun read?

So I know it isn’t fall yet, but with students going back to school and the summer winding down I feel like it will soon be pie season. I love baking pies and so was excited to see this video of 20 different ways to crimp pie crust:

So cool! I’ll have to try out at least a few of these when pie-making season rolls around.

Also, I think I’ll have to either get into woodworking or get my husband to start since I love these DIY wooden couch sleeves. These seem perfect for resting a cup of tea while curled up reading, especially with a cat in my lap.

Finally, a think this flippable bike frame is a pretty nifty idea for transforming a bike as kids grow and learn to ride. Plus, I like the animation so I had to share.

Hope you have a wonderful rest of your week, dear readers. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Working Better

August 22, 2014

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!

Tuesday Fun

August 19, 2014

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! I hope you are having a lovely week. I can hardly believe we are in the third week of August. Where is the time going? While we can’t make time go any slower, we can try to enjoy what is left of the summer. So today I have a few things that should make you smile when you need a break today.

I think that if a person is a librarian, it is fairly safe to assume that they are addicted to reading. In any case, it is fun to take a look at this list of 50 signs you are addicted to reading (some funny animated GIFs in the list, too).

I love typography and I love calligraphy, so I found this talk, Why Write by Jake Weidmann absolutely wonderful. I’m sending you to the video via this link instead of embedding the video so you can also take a look at a lovely site if you love writing and pens, The Well-Appointed Desk.

Finally, I think there should always be guacamole and chips to eat during summer. Therefore, I’m thinking that I will have to make this delicious sounding (and looking) recipe from Joy the Baker, roasted tomato and feta guacamole.

Have a wonderful rest of your week, dear readers. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Thinking about Everyday Design

August 15, 2014

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you have had a lovely week and have a great weekend planned. Today I want to take a few minutes to discuss something near and dear to my heart–design. More specifically I want to talk about everyday design. Since I’m a librarian and not a professional designer, I can’t talk about professionally designing logos or fonts or things like that, but I can talk about using good design in creating things for the library that are beautiful and functional. So today I want to share with you a few design articles, resources, and thoughts.

It is no secret that I’m a fan of the I love Typography blog. It is a great blog of font news and interesting notes about typography. I love this short video on The Sign Painter. Doesn’t it just make you want to have beautifully hand-lettered signs made for your library? I can just see some gorgeous signs painted on our windows in the front of the library welcoming students back from the summer and into the library.

Speaking of beautiful design and just beauty in general, you should really check out the winners of the 2014 Photo Contest by National Geographic. They are absolutely beautiful.

If that inspires you to think more about your everyday photography or just design in general, you might be interested in Lifehacker’s article on three basic design principles everyone can use in everyday life. Some good tips to think about.

Also, when talking about design, we can’t help but talk about Photoshop. I love working with Photoshop because it is so powerful and allows me to create what I need when designing things for myself and for the library. But I also know that Photoshop is very expensive and not in the budget for everyone and every library. That’s why I’m happy to share this article on the best free Photoshop alternatives. I’m looking forward to working more with GIMP.

I think that great design is a wonderful thing to behold and that we can all contribute to making the world a little more beautiful, at least in our library worlds, through learning design concepts and working to create beautiful and usable things for our libraries.

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

Tuesday Fun

August 12, 2014

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! Can you believe we are into the second full week of August already? Summer is truly flying by. Today I wanted to share some very random fun that has come over my feeds to brighten up your day. All Tuesdays could use a bit of fun. So let’s get to it.

I am a fan of quotes that help me feel like getting up and accomplishing things. So I rather like this list of 29 inspiring procrastination and productivity quotes. I think the quote from Stephen King is one of my favorites on this list.

Who can resist an awesome video on art and chocolate? Not me. So I share with you this video of a chocolate mill that reveals delicious changing geometry. This is just so cool, though it looks like they didn’t eat the chocolate which seems a shame. Totally want to eat some chocolate now.

Also, I had to share this multi-function hairclip. Now I don’t usually wear hairclips, but this is one I could totally get into.

Finally, I quite like this article by Lifehacker on why creative side projects are good for you. Now you have justification for spending time on your creative side projects, not that you needed that anyway.

Hope you have a wonderful rest of your week, dear readers. I’ll be back soon with some more news and notes. Allons-y!

Backing Up Data

August 8, 2014

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope that your week has gone well and you have a wonderful weekend planned. Today I want to just share some links to help with backing up your data as it is an important and often overlooked step in protecting your files. Plus, the archivist in me just couldn’t resist passing along a couple of articles that weren’t in archival literature about backing up data. So let’s get to it.

Lifehacker has a good article on why Dropbox shouldn’t be your sole backup. While the tale is scary, it is a good reminder to back up your data in multiple locations. Happily, external hard drive prices have decreased a lot over the past few years, which makes it even more affordable to back up your files.

On a similar note, Gizmodo reports on how it only takes one bozo to kill your cloud data. Another reason to not rely on one cloud service to backup your data. When it comes to making sure you can access your digital files, it truly does come down to lots of copies keep stuff safe (but only if you have lots of copies in multiple places). Also, this reminds me of the great xkcd cartoon:

the cloud cartoon by xkcd

“the cloud” by xkcd

Finally, this is an interesting and useful tip from Lifehacker on how to test new external hard drive by doing a secure erase. I’ll have to remember to try this when I get a new external hard drive.

Hopefully these tips (and cautionary tales) will persuade you and your patrons about the importance of backing up your data. How do you back up your data? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Have a wonderful weekend full of all good things, dear readers. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

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