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Summary – Managing Your Workload – 5th March

1. Do you think your workload has increased in recent months or years?

  • Definitely – fewer people in the team plus tasks get added at each appraisal but not often removed
  • With new initiatives in literacy and the importance of reading for pleasure, school librarians have a greatly increased workload.
    • So effectively – with increased interest comes increased workload?
    • Yes. The increased interest is great but means we need to manage our workload really effectively to cope.
  • Most definitely. Half the staff as last year and last remaining library assistant keeps getting moved by bosses to other roles
  • Do budgets affect the workload in libraries? What do you think? Less money= less staff, more tasks each one?
  • Definitely increased! Less staff, less money for labour-saving resources, more pressure to keep up results!
  •  Also find it frustrating that organisational culture is often anti productivity tools even free ones like http://t.co/wfOaJ0rn5f
    • Nirvana has only limited free features I think – time management seems to be something people pay for
  • Solo librarian – lack of budget for additional staff definitely increases workload, no-one to delegate to
  • While volunteering at the national library association, I have noticed librarians don’t have time for extra activities and lately the lack of time grows into the lack of motivation.
  • Yes! Now we’ve finally got more librarians after being denied the money for them for years I’m not allowed to coast! I don’t mind the extra work though as is all interesting stuff, apart from endless checking of reading lists. I think when I was doing ALL the cataloguing & a lot of desk work etc. it meant no time for other projects. Now I do
  • I’ve always been able to cope with even a quite busy workload, problem though is stress, even with light workload. The key I think is a strong vision and set of goals (i.e. plan) for the future, based on good information
    • I don’t mind the workload as far I know it is worth it.
  • I would say my workload has changed rather than increased and become more variable. previously had far more control over my work, now I’m handed it down in projects from on high, if they run out, tough. Hate it

2. What is your biggest challenge in managing your workload?

  • Managing the day to day with the strategic, reacting vs planning & still managing not to burn out a big challenge
  •  Setting priorities
  • Having to spend so much time on the desk as no library assistants & being constantly in meetings & sorting out technology!
  • Everything concerning customers. They must always notice that everything is working right despite huge workloads. Have you ever noticed the face of users when they see the circulation desk so busy? Some of them even say: Sorry!! Some users even apologised to me/staff for making me/us work too much!!  I was surprised to see users who are so polite or “compassive”: “Sorry for all the work I made you do!!”
  • Saying no to ‘extra-curricular’ things. I’m doing a lot of fun projects but lately feeling I’ve taken on too much
    • Agree on that. It seems extra things are more fun and inspiring. But you really need to concentrate on your work.
    • I think it is important to split time management skills for work and extra curricular – I use different skills at work to at home
  • Biggest challenge is carefully mapping out my workload – then that all going out the window when an urgent request comes in!
  • Being able to set daily goals and seeing the point of what you are doing
  • Balancing interesting professional work with routine tasks essential to keep library functioning
  • Biggest challenge to managing workload is making sure that there is time to fit everything in, and that nothing gets missed
  • Estimating the time that project tasks will take. I have a tendency to underestimate and end up taking on too much at once
    • Sounds familliar, especially projects with large team, depends on pace of others & politics, can be much slower than think
  • Access to resources. Don’t get right tools for the job because rest of organisation doesn’t get what we need/do
  • Prioritising, knowing when to say “no” and the never ending stream of emails (gah!)
    • When to say no is difficult for solo librarian as no can mean poor judgement on whole service so its tough to say but need to learn
    • It’s not easy, but better to do a smaller number of things well than do lots of things half-arsed 😉
  • Remaining enthusiastic for all aspects of the role not just new exciting things & allocating time accordingly!
  • Got to stage where I have lots of beneficial projects to work on but routine desk stuff gets in way (and too few others to do it)
  • Getting important but not urgent stuff done e.g. strategic planning, important administration
  • Biggest challenge can be keeping track of multiple deadlines for multiple projects and sometimes all the work to do at once

3. Do you use any particular tools or techniques for managing your workload?

  • I did use TeuxDeux for lists but they’re going to start charging for it, have gone back to pen & paper lists for the time being!
  • A boring one, but: Outlook! Outlook 2010 in particular has some great productivity features: I use the task scheduling heavily
    • Outlook calendar and task manager. Shared calendar makes planning much easier!
    • Outlook Calendar is work default, also Evernote, but really like best good old fashioned notebook & lists!!
  • I find a good old fashioned written to-do list at my desk works wonders! Especially when combined with post-its. And gmail calendar is invaluable – especially when synced across devices etc.
  • I seem to have taken to writing on my hand rather than on Post It’s lately – can’t misplace my hand!
  • Worth scheduling important work into your Outlook calendar as “busy”, so you don’t get meeting requests, etc
    • Or…even better mark it “private appointment” – you are then pretty much guaranteed uninterrupted time 😉
    •  No such luxury here and big open plan office so people interrupt if they see you sitting there
      • How do you cope with colleagues’ conversations? Do you ever ask them to stop so you can work? (No worries if can’t say.)
      • Headphones & music
        •  I’m very old school (not in the music sense) and need silence to work. Perhaps earplugs
      • I hate noise. It gets me totally distracted. I can’t do anything if it’s noisy and loudly
      • I wish I could find a good solution for this. Sometimes I find myself being talkative.
  • The check-lists always help to have a feeling that your job is moving on.
  •  Also, worth keeping a list of what you’ve done, as it helps remind you that you are actually achieving stuff
    • Like that idea – rather than getting bogged down in what’s not done – occasionally add done tasks to to do just to tick off
  • As much as I embrace technology, paper and pen still beckon at times 🙂
  • I use Omnifocus for task management
  • 30 years of reading around the topic == good understanding of the Western approach 🙂 recently looked at GTD, it works well
  • At work I use Outlook and pen and paper lists, for study and personal life I use Remember the Milk http://t.co/lkcaRRGG3Q
  • John Adair on time management; Manage Your Mind,- Butler & Hope (ch. on self-management); GTD works well under stress
  • I use to do list software in my personal life but Outlook folders & paper at work
  • You can even use a management/ business planning approach – psychology essentially the same as for self-management
  • I find sitting down at the end of the day and working out what I want to achieve the next day really useful
  •  Really like Moleskine (or similar) weekly planner. Diary one side, ruled on the other for my to do list
  • I also have a sort of GTD system with one of those expanding folders that can chuck everything in & review weekly
  •  Librarians would get an opportunity to put their their skills to good use with GTD managing the repository (a key component)
  • Not forgetting the original classic (would be shot if did) – Ivy’s list http://t.co/47VxjxjT5fhttps://t.co/RGwtj6tORu
  • My favourite tool for managing my workload is the word “no”. As I age, I’m getting ever better at using this tool
    • I never say ‘no’ to one of my students, though. Ever. I always prioritise their needs
  •  I’d say main tools used are my email calendar, reminders in said calendar and sometimes paper calendars. Also planning on paper
  • So much better at prioritising workload after many years – not about who shouts loudest

4. How can you prioritise tasks?

  • Strategic priorities with big impact, can it be done quickly?, is it fun? (important to enjoy your job!)
  • Current approach is writing list of 5 (manageable) things I need to achieve that day and focusing on those – not too overwhelming
  • Use GTD quite heavily to prioritise e.g. Importance, energy, time available divided by context
  • I usually go with the importance/urgency/effort grid!
  • Prioritise the customer first, then management tasks, then jobs outside job description I’ve been told to do, then extracurriculars
  • Prioritise by importance – also get done first things that can be done v quickly
    •  But by postponing things you can’t do very quickly you get a large pile of them
    • Agree, but if can get things done that only take 1 or 2 minutes then they are out of way and concentrate on bigger things!
  • I always love to do things I can do in a short period of time. But it is not always the best option. Sometimes you just have to do at least one long-term thing first
  •  Definitely – ranking in order of importance/urgency all the way
  • Depends on my schedule. Certain things are non-changeable scheduled tasks, like desk duty and meetings
  • I’d like to find some time to look at Axiology (not done so far yet – could do with a good library 😉
  • Mainly I look at work in terms of urgency (nearest deadlines) and importance. Some is unconscious or practised choices

5. What do you do when you are asked/told to do tasks that are not part of your job either as a one off or permanently?

  • Depends what it is! If it fits with my skill set & I can add value, I’d say yes. If not, then I’d try to push back if possible
  • Keep a list of those jobs, as they could be used as ammunition later on for getting regraded 😉
  •  Usually go ahead and treat it as good experience as long as doesn’t prevent job being done too
  • My job description says: do your direct job duties + everything your boss says to do
  • Because highly competitive teams exchange roles in order to get the goals of the organisation. – you must be flexible
  • Difficult depending on who asks…I try to say no unless I have a good reason
  •  Depends on if it can add value to overall Lib & info service, if its a way to draw people in
  • Depends: is it reasonable; do existing workload/targets/deadlines allow space/time; what’s in it for you?
  • Usually say we’re understaffed so can you get someone else? Funny but that never works. Must learn to just say no.
  • Generally try to be helpful, but depends on task (complexity, competing priorities, time involved etc.)
  • With one-off things it depends on the capacity I have and how disruptive it will be to other work also who’s asking. generally if I can help with brief one off things I will, specially if it’s educating colleagues in how to do stuff.
  • It can however be difficult if for example – I’m supposed to get a formal project sheet for every project.. If a manager gives me a project with no project sheet I’m not supposed to do it. But you can’t argue with a manager. However it means you don’t know what the remit of the project is or if you really can afford the time.
  • With permanent duties fortunately I have the get out clause I can only do projects handed to me these are by definition my duties
  • Good and bad sides to getting a reputation for being helpful: Draw the line at things that are unrelated/another department’s issue
    •  I find I learn to steer clear of people who offload work (not always easy though)
    • It’s not people offloading so much as students/staff targeting for assistance with simple things
  • I have always done tasks not part of my job and would actively encourage others to do same – if you want to move up that is. And I’m grateful to those who offloaded on me rightly or wrongly back in the day (or were just incompetent)
    • If the task is challenging, then it’s OK. But if it’s only something the others don’t want to do.
    • Agreed, but it’s important not to be taken advantage of, esp if other colleagues are capable of doing the work too
      • Not sure I agree – it depends if the being taken advantage of leads somewhere good – sells your skill and competence
  • I usually try to be flexible. I’d rather do it and learn from the experience.

6 Are libraries likely to create a multi tasking work environment where the staff are requested to do many tasks at the same time?

  •  In my case, a big YES as I was requested to multi task many times!!
  • The front desk usually is anyway, it is wise to do one thing at once
  • Nature of job is multitasking – dealing with enquiries/helping users while getting on with longer tasks
  •  On issue desk (often mistaken for reception) you can guarantee being interrupted doing one thing for another
  •  Already feel like I multi task quite a bit, lots of varied things going on especially on help desk
  • If you´re a solo librarian -as I am- you already multi task. Multi tasking on balance good as long as you are not spread too thin!
  • The time runs faster when multitasking
  • I absolutely agree with those who are saying the enquiry desk demands multitasking. You can’t answer questions linearly
  • The trick is to realise that the interruptions are as or more important than the task you’re doing between them!
  • I think by default most librarians do many tasks at the same time and more so as there is a squeeze on budgets and staffing

7 Would you appreciate training on managing your workload, or do you think it is a skill you are born with?

  •  I’ve attended time management courses, but they’ve never addressed service-led roles. Someone please offer one!
  • Decision making I think is a worthwhile underpinning skill to time management – a lot written on it
  • I think it’s a skill you develop over time and with practice, though courses can hel
  • Think it’s trainable…Can learn a lot from things like this sharing tips & ideas too
  • Both. I also believe the values/education at home, school are quite important: clean your mess, put things back…
  • Can know how to manage work load but lack of similarly skilled staff or poor organisation structure can still negative impact workload
  • The keyword would be ‘self-discipline’
  •  I think it’s something you learn by doing, but training could give helpful ideas if new to it or having difficulties.
  • Having managed heaps of people my observation is that some people are naturals, others have needed telling what to do and when
  • I need a training in not-to-do-things-perfectly. It would save my time a lot.
    • That’s an incredibly valid point! We’re trained in precision, yet to complete all tasks we must let that go. Is hard!
  •  I think training in planning can help but really it’s about devising the tools that work for you – be it calendars electric or paper  or using excel, filing systems, project charts etc

Q 8 : What is the best advice someone has ever given you on managing your workload?

  •  “If you’re juggling too many balls, it’s OK to drop some of them”
  • I was once told to make both a to do and a ta da (ta da! thing done!) list. It works wonders!
  •  Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes other people are our greatest tool!
  • Prioritising the tasks is the key–Get rid of menial tasks very quickly
  • That Dilbert cartoon with the speck representing your job comparable with planet earth. Helped with perspective
    • SO true. When you have that perspective, deadlines suddenly feel less “dead” and more “line”. Then they’re moveable 🙂
  •  I think that the maxim is that it is the journey that counts (not so much the destination)
    •  I’d say the opposite: remember that it doesn’t matter how you get there, make sure you remember what you want to achieve
  • Also: still make time to have breaks, important to look after yourself and not burn out! or then nothing gets done!
  • Not sure anyone’s given me advice I remember, really it’s about practice, planning and keeping yourself organised.
  • also remembering you can’t do everything and sometimes one has to say no. I rarely do though.
  • I’d say not just getting rid of menial tasks but sometimes getting on with what can be done rather than what can’t
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One comment on “Summary – Managing Your Workload – 5th March

  1. Pingback: Time Management Courses In Cape Town | Time Management Tips

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This entry was posted on March 24, 2013 by in Discussion Summaries and tagged , , , , , , .

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