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Reminders and Work

September 19, 2014

Happy Friday, dear readers! Today the library faculty at my university are off on a faculty retreat (aka longest meeting of the year) to get our plans in place for the next academic year. Being a quarter campus, our fall term starts next week and so I think everyone is getting a bit of the start of the term panic. I’m looking forward to the new year and am hoping my class in the fall goes well. Fall will always be the start of the new year for me since my calendar and plans still revolve around the school calendar. So I thought it would be a good idea today to share a trio of articles to perhaps inspire you and your colleagues at this arbitrary start to another year.

While this blog often has a lot to do with reporting on libraries and archives and work in there, I often find some of the most useful articles for me come from blogs that are not from within the library or archives world. Lifehacker is one of my favorite, although only in RSS feed; I find their website interface overwhelming and distracting. But that is neither here nor there. They’ve been having some really wonderful reminders about building reputation and being success at work in the recent months, so I wanted to share two with you.

I really liked this short post on using the “Old Faithful” method to build your reputation, probably because I both love Yellowstone and wish that more people were as reliable as Old Faithful. The advice given here is so true. It may not be as flashy to always be dependable and show up day in and day out, as opposed to grabbing the spotlight once or twice every year with something grand, but it is the way to become a valuable colleague and employee. I will take someone dependable over someone who gets a stupendous idea now and then any day of the week because I know the dependable person will get their work done and I won’t be left scrambling or trying to cover for them at that last minute.

The post reminded me of a book I just finished reading, Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. The descriptions of the routines that many of the artists have/had were mundane and regular. Those were the ones who seem to produce a lot of work, too. (Always exceptions to the rule, of course, but I’m not arguing about that here) I think that is a good reminder for all of us that people notice our routines, they notice if we keep our word or not, and they act accordingly.

An earlier Lifehacker article reported in a similar vein that the most important trait of successful people: conscientiousness. So let’s all try to be as conscientious as we can in our work. We’ll get more done with less fuss and stress. We might even have time for some fun along the way.

I know from talking with many of my friends and colleagues in the library field that while we often love our work and find it fulfilling, we also want to time to pursue other interests and hobbies. But, as I think many people can relate to, we are tired after work and don’t feel like we have time to do anything else but crash. So I really appreciated this article reminding us to spend more time on energizing activities so we have the drive to pursue our interests outside of our work.

I hope you have a lovely weekend, dear readers. I hope you have the time and energy to do something fun and the time to also relax. I’ll be back next week, most likely with thoughts on starting the new quarter. Wish us luck. Allons-y!

Tuesday Fun

September 16, 2014

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! I hope your week is off to a good start. Today I just want to share a couple of interesting things to provide a bit of fun for your day.

First, clocks seem to be ubiquitous in libraries. We have so many clocks around our library and none of them seem to tell the same time. Makes for interesting coordination of shift changes at our public service points. I think if our clocks were as pretty and clever as this clock, we wouldn’t mind: clock’s hour hand rings its own hourly chime.

Also, while I can’t see this fitting into most libraries, except maybe that one with the demonstration kitchen featured in the last issue of American Libraries, an aquarium kitchen island is still fantastically cool.

Hope you have a wonderful week, full of getting things done and some fun along the way. I’ll be back soon with some more news, notes, and writing. Allons-y!

Friday Fun

September 12, 2014

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you had a lovely week and have a nice weekend planned. Instead of my usual news and notes this Friday, I just have a few photos to share. At the beginning of this week, we were down in Monterey and Carmel for a few days of vacation. It was beautiful on the coast. Of course we stopped by the public library in Carmel, but mainly enjoyed walking along the coast. So here are some photos to get you into a relaxed mood for the weekend. Summer vacation season might be over, but that doesn’t mean we have to abandon summer’s more relaxed mood. Enjoy.

tree on 17-Mile Drive

tree on 17-Mile Drive

beach boardwalk photo

beach boardwalk

beautiful Central Coast of California

beautiful Central Coast of California

Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers. I’ll be back next week with some more news and notes. Allons-y!

Tuesday Fun

September 9, 2014

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! I hope your week is going well. I have some lovely things to share with you today to help inspire your Tuesday workday. Today, let’s look at some beautiful, artistic, inspiring things. Let’s get to it.

I’ve always been fascinated by stained glass. As a kid, I thought it was absolutely magical and when I found out that my eight grade English teacher created stained glass projects, she became the coolest teacher by far in my eyes. So I was obviously taken with this Lord of the Rings stained glass lamp. It’s amazing and well-worth the click-though to the entire image gallery. Wouldn’t some literary stained glass lamps look lovely in your library? So much better than overhead, fluorescent lighting.

Also, although it sometimes seems weird to be sharing a lot about the printed word and handwriting on a blog, I couldn’t resist sharing the ink drop round-up by the Well-Appointed Desk. Such beautiful fountain pen ink colors. And who could resist the Ink Drop from the Goulet Pen Company? A monthly fountain pen ink subscription, sampling service? It’s like Birchbox for people who love fountain pens and writing!

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

Play and Work

September 5, 2014

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has gone well and you have a relaxing weekend planned. I’m looking forward to relaxing this weekend after spending last week moving and unpacking in our new home. It is hard to believe we are already through the first week of September. It is inching closer to the start of the quarter here on campus and I feel the usual combination of excitement and panic at the start of another academic year. It seems appropriate at the close of the summer (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere) to talk a bit about play and work as it seems like the being of another school year the balance seems to flip back to work as opposed to play. So let’s discuss a bit.

The idea for this post came courtesy of this post at tiny buddha: benefits of bringing more play into your work. I enjoyed reading about how play became infused into the work day and professionalism and productivity didn’t suffer. And, happiness increased. That is just great and it is always nice to have these kind of stories because I think they help to persuade management and administration that having fun and working don’t have to be polar opposite forces, opposing each other. And I think that is something that more of us need to keep in mind, whether we work in a library, archives, or wherever.

My first publication as a librarian was titled, “Seriously, play!” so obviously this concept of integrating work and play is near and dear to my heart. (It can still be read here). What I found interesting then, and still interesting now, is that while some people acknowledge the importance of play in learning and in work, others don’t and/or won’t see that play is important to work. While I don’t think we can change everyone’s mind to seeing the value of play in work, I would suggest that we can use this knowledge to our own advantage as we try to increase engagement and happiness at work.

Being open to play at work doesn’t mean we are going to be having water balloon fights in the stacks (that would be horrible for the books), but that we can be open to trying new things and being a bit silly at times. And that makes for a more comfortable environment and closer teams so that when we do have to tackle tough deadlines and projects, we actually have the reserves and desire to do so.

I think being able to see and experience play and work as supporting each other instead of battling each other is another way to combat the ongoing fight of creating a balanced life. If we aren’t enjoying our work and being engaged at work, I don’t see how we can ever have a balanced or fulfilling life. Then each workday is just a slog and that is no way to live. Finding moments to test out new things, to try new things without judgement and to support each other in these goals is what makes my workdays better. Also, let’s face it, it is almost impossible not to smile when someone else is smiling and not to catch some excitement or happiness when someone else is obviously enjoying their playful work and invites you to join in.

As an example, I approach every teaching experience as one part stand-up comedy routine, one part experiment, and one part serious academic. This balance works for me and has been working for my students for the last six years. Humor is a great way to break tension, especially when students are learning difficult concepts and struggling, as they should as they grow as learners. A sense of experimentation is necessary as not every group, student, or class learns the same or responds to the same material or delivery or exercise or whatever. And being a serious academic is necessary to lead the class, to facilitate learning, to guide the students, and to make sure that respect goes both ways in creating a positive, supportive space. I’m passionate about my teaching, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have fun with it. If anything, if I stopped having fun and having a playful attitude around it, I think I’d probably be the most boring, horrible teacher for my students, if not just a bad model for what it is like to be a professional or academic.

So, I just wanted to say that I think we can all infuse a little more play with our work and gain a lot for our working lives from our play. So remember to enjoy. Life is too short to have people tell you that you need to be serious all the time or that play and work go together like oil and water. It’s all a process, this life and work, so make it a fun one.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of play. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Tuesday Fun

September 2, 2014

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! I hope you had a lovely weekend and have a good week planned. Today I have a trio of videos for your enjoyment today. They have nothing really in common, except that I found them interesting and fun and I thought you would, too.

First up, is this lovely video showing an extremely talented one stroke painting artist at work. Beautiful!

Then, check out this completely random, but wonderful clip of a person driving a batcycle around Japan in a Batman costume. I would enjoy rush hour traffic a bit more if I saw that on my drive home.

Finally, because if you are reading this blog you probably have more books than you care to count, I thought I’d share this video, “Making a Case for Books.”

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

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!

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