- No two days/weeks/years are alike
- So many different aspects to the work
- Always something new to learn and do
- Serving students, teachers, parents
- The books!
I chose this profession because I knew it would keep me on my toes. I thrive on learning new things and serving many roles I am a librarian, teacher, counselor, technology specialist, reader, curriculum developer, and professional development deliverer.
There is great beauty in the creativity and diversity the position offers. However, for all of those same reasons I can sometimes find myself swimming in a sea of all of the above and finding myself underwater. There isn’t enough time to be who I want to be for ALL of my students, teachers, and parents. There just aren’t enough hours. I want to try new initiatives, develop collaborations with teachers, try out that new tool I read about, make a dent in my “to be read” pile, catch up with my professional reading, write a blog post, and learn from my Twitter PLN.
Einstein is often credited with the saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” I like to think I am trying new things when I return with the new plan for “getting everything done” but let’s face it - it’s just the same plan with a different focus or a new agenda. So, I guess I can officially diagnose my case as one of “insanity” according to Einstein.
What would happen if I returned to school with a “new plan?” Not one like past years. What would happen if I changed my thinking? What would happen if I abandoned my traditional thinking - multitasking, and squeezing as much in as I could and opted to (gasp) do LESS.
Yes, my goal this year is to do LESS. I am going to do less to do more. I am going to focus on what is important and what will have the greatest impact on my students. I thought I did this all the time, so this is going to require a big mental shift on my part. This is going to take much strength and fortitude to analyze every choice (and non-choice) coming my way, but not every opportunity is worthy of the time and energy I want to invest in it. I am going to “make my yeses count.” This is the year I will make hard choices and see (hopefully) the fruits of my labors. The three principles of my new thinking:
- Create a goal and post it. I will take on tasks and assignments only if they support my goal.
- Schedule my time. How much time do I have for given, prioritized tasks? I will accept that the goal is to complete these, but they might not be as “pretty” as I wanted them to be.
- Use my most effective work time to tackle the most important tasks for my identified goal.
This year I stepped down from my role as Student Council advisor. I love watching our students develop their leadership skills. I feel like I have skills to offer this group that I have spent eight years leading, but my time with my Reader Leaders (a new leadership group) is sacrificed by my participation. So, I stepped down from Student Council and said “yes” to a more full commitment to my Reader Leaders. Does Student Council help me to grow readers? No. Do Reader Leaders help me to grow readers? Yes. This was an easy decision.
2. Schedule my non-goal time. I often find myself working on something “until it is done.” This is a slippery slope. I can always add a link, throw in a better graphic, find another book, tweak the layout, etc. When is done, done? The perfectionist in me has a hard time with “good enough.” I am now allocating a certain amount of time for the task at hand. I ask myself how much time I think is reasonable and stick to it. My exit tickets and agendas aren’t as cute as they could be. They may not have the graphics I envisioned. Will my students know? No. (They may even find these less distracting). My time is valuable. I am in control of how I spend it. Working longer and harder doesn’t necessarily make me a better librarian. Working aligned to my values makes me a smarter librarian.
3. Use my most effective work time to tackle the most important tasks for my identified goal. I am a morning person and think best in the morning. I start my day with a targeted list of things that I must do. What must I do to support my students, teachers & parents? Do these grow readers? My creative work and larger tasks happen then. Gone are the days of starting my day by answering e-mails. Oh, e-mail…..I no longer answer e-mails as they roll in. This distracts me and sends my brain and energy in multiple directions. I now only respond to e-mails throughout the day if it is from my boss or a colleague in need of something now. I am beginning to feel like I run the technology instead of it running me. I answer e-mails once the students go home. During the day, THEY are my focus as we grow readers.
How is it going? One month into the school year I am tired, still with too much to do and not enough time, but I feel like I know where I am going. The difference is I don’t feel hopelessly underwater, swimming in circles. I am in control of what I am prioritizing - those items that will help me to grow readers. Will I get distracted or take a circuitous path? Of course. However, I see where I am headed and have a goal, tag line, and logo to help me focus my choices and reorient my brain and compass to growing readers.