Saturday, 14 May 2011

Time and life management for a new professional, or why I haven't blogged in ages!

I have been neglecting my blog recently. I haven’t posted anything in ages and I’m not even checking my stats or comments. My excuse is that I have been extremely busy in the past few weeks. Those of you who follow me on Twitter will have witnessed my whinging about moving house, which happened two weeks ago. Additionally, I have been working on finishing my Chartership PPDP and starting to collect evidence, and I have been lucky enough to have my paper proposal accepted for the CILIP New Professionals Conference on 20th June, meaning that I need to have my paper written by the end of this month. On top of all this, things have been busy at work, which is fairly demanding at the moment. Our campus is closing and transferring to the main campus next summer, so work has begun in earnest on the moving of the library, and I’m currently working on how we are going to transfer the journals, as well as the usual day-to-day work, which must continue while we are still here. As well as all of this, a colleague at my grade has just departed for a new role at the main campus, and will not be replaced, so her work needs to be covered; this means that the journals management aspect of my role is going to expand into a more general acquisitions management role, and, of course, there will be shared tasks such as enquiry desk work for which her contribution will need to be covered by those of us remaining. So you can perhaps forgive me for letting my blog slip down my to-do list!

Taking on the additional workload at work has made me think about time management, and how I am going to have to get really good at it in order to keep on top of things. At the same time, being generally busy has made me think about life management. I’ve realised that I am neglecting a lot of the non-library things that I used to enjoy. Hip-hop dancing makes me feel happy and relaxed, but I’ll admit that I haven’t tried very hard to find a class in Bristol since the one I did try got cancelled. I used to be quite a good trombone player, and loved playing in a jazz band and orchestras, but my trombone has become a piece of furniture that is shifted with each house move and placed in a corner. I was always an avid reader, but I’ve been on the same book for about a year now; not because I’m not enjoying it, but because I just struggle to find the time to read anything that isn’t a LIS journal or “Building your portfolio”. I used to write poetry, but that folder hasn’t been touched for years, even though with the life experience I’ve acquired since, I expect my ability to write good poems has improved.  That novel I’ve always planned to write remains non-existent. When I last worked full time, during my graduate traineeship, baking cakes on a Saturday afternoon was my chill-out activity of choice, but I don’t think I’ve done any baking since the yummy cherry and white chocolate muffins I made for my colleagues when I left that job nearly two years ago. I’ve started to make friends in Bristol, but have recently turned down a couple of social invitations due to wanting to get on with stuff at home. And luckily, my boyfriend is a librarian, otherwise I think he would have had enough of me and my constant talking about libraries/Chartership/paper-writing a long time ago (also, luckily for him, we are in a long-distance relationship, so he is only exposed to this in person about once a month!)!

I think I am going to make time management one of my objectives at work and in my Chartership PPDP. I’m already fairly good at it, I think. I use my Outlook calendar to block out time for tasks and make a to-do list. However, I think I’m going to have to get better at it, as my to-do list morphs into multiple to-do lists for the different areas in which I work, and the various to-do piles of things on my desk grow (my colleague leaving means there is now a spare desk opposite mine, but I don’t think spilling over/dumping things on a second desk is the most effective time management technique, as tempting as it is!). My line manager has suggested that it might be worth attending a time management course, which I am definitely going to do if possible; I think it’s good to get someone else’s perspective on what works and what doesn’t, and also  to discuss ideas with others. I’m also going to investigate online tools. I’ve signed up for Nirvana after reading Library Reflections’ blogpost about it, so I’ll see how I get on with that; I know that some other librarians have blogged about that and other similar tools as well, so I’ll search out those blogposts. I think I may just have to try lots of different methods and techniques for time management at work until I find something that works really well for me. If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them.

General life management is a bit trickier. I don’t really want to be using that online time management tool to sort out my evenings and weekends too; “8pm-10pm – watch rubbishy TV” is a bit OTT! I think I just need to be sensible. I’ve been trying to do this since I moved house; in the past couple of flats in which I’ve lived, I’ve only unpacked the bare minimum, leaving the place looking a bit like a storage facility, but this time I really want to create a home in which I can take pleasure, so this week, I have been persuading myself to unpack in the evenings, rather than work on my paper. I’ve nearly finished now, and I think it will be worth the effort. With socialising, I think it was sensible to turn down the invitations recently, as I did have stuff that needed doing, but I don’t think I should turn down any in the near future, as it is important to have a break and spend time with people. I’m going to make more of an effort in this area, instigating the socialising rather than just accepting invitations from others, and I am definitely going to arrange a Bristol LISNPN meet-up soon. And with the other stuff; well, again, I think it’s a case of being sensible and realistic. I don’t currently have the time to become a competition-level hiphop dancer, become a great jazz trombonist, or create a prize-winning poetry collection, but I could make more of an effort, even if it’s just reading a book in bed at night, or making time one week to try another dance class. I need to remember that, as good as it is to be involved in and engaged with your profession, it’s also important that I remain a well-rounded person who my friends (particularly the non-library ones!) still want to spend time with.

I don’t want any of this to be interpreted as whinging. I love my life at the moment, and I wouldn’t change anything about my professional involvement; it’s exciting and I feel incredibly lucky. This time last year things looked a lot bleaker; I was struggling with my dissertation, there were no jobs available, and I couldn’t have imagined that I would be doing everything that I am now. I just wanted to share some of my thoughts on time and life management. I would love to hear any suggestions/comments. And I will definitely arrange that Bristol LISNPN meet-up soon!


  1. I know how you feel. Sometimes feels like everything's just piling up on top of you, doesn't it? It's something I'm trying to focus on at the moment - figuring out what's actually important to me, and what maybe I should do less of.

    From a time-management point of view, I can really recommend reading Getting Things Done by David Allen. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I really got a lot out of it - there's some good, practical advice in there about how to make things feel more manageable.

  2. I was a workaholic throughout my 20s. I'm now 36 and I prefer a more relaxed life-style. I've got a part-time job that I can do from home and all my other time is spent on writing. If only I'd applied my twenty-something workaholic attitude to creating novels, I'd have a lot more than 2 published by now!