I’m busy all the time. I have a to-do list of more than 60 items on a clipboard that’s pretty much chained to my wrist. I have a second to-do list on my whiteboard of urgent projects, augmented with scribbled diagrams of long-term planning. I have a third list of things to do in my email inbox, because if it’s in my inbox, it’s not done.
And, yes, some of this is indicative of the level of committment I’ve made to my institution, my inability to say “no” to reasonable requests no matter how busy I am, and the fact that we’re a forward-thinking group of professionals whose desire to do good work often outpaces our available manhours. But some of it’s time management, plain and simple.
So. Starting in August, I’ve blocked out five hours of each week for taskwork — weeding, selection, and cataloging — and another two hours for reading and writing. I will, of course, be doing those tasks at other times as my work demands. What I’ve realized, and am trying to address, is that the management aspects of my work have come to override my task work, and that needs to be re-balanced.
Acquisitions and Collection Development are a great example. I can tell you, at any time, and almost to the dollar, where over 100 funds are in their expenditures. I can tell you who I delegated to, who I’m working with, what deadlines have been met and are upcoming, and what topics need to be selected for. I can tell you what we did last year, and the year previous, as relates to the work currently at hand.
What I can’t do, it seems, is find time to actually select books.
Substitute “cataloging online resources”, or “weeding the PT collection”, or “writing that article on X”, and you’ve got a good description of my worklife as it stands now. And that’s not good enough. I need to do my best to manage the big picture, being sure to understand the environment and track the details of it, but also to do the work. To catalog the Gale Virtual Reference titles that we decided to add to BearCat months ago. To follow up on the gov-docs serial work being done by the cataloging intern. To select new curriculum materials for general sciences. To weed the [expletive deleted] PT section. To make decisions on replacing the lost-and-paid books from last semester.
So. I’m trying a new approach. Living in a regimented, orderly world full of two-hour shifts doing this and that might turn out not to work for me, either — but any forward motion’s better than sitting stuck in neutral. My work deserves better than neutral.