Organized by Professional Development Committee of ACRL/NY and LACUNY
Notes from the event, by Susanne Markgren
Dr. Roberta Brody, Professor GSLIS, Queens College, shared advice and tips on strategies and tactics for productivity and becoming “unstuck.” She emphasized the importance of finding a mentor and accountability partner, and carving time out of our schedules in order to write and complete projects that often take a second seat to other commitments. She talked about habit grouping – getting into the habit of doing two or three things at the same time: laundry time = writing time. Dr. Brody is a fan of keeping lists, both short and long range, and posting them where you can see them. She creates collages out of her lists. She also had this constructive and seemingly easy tip to combat writer’s block: “change your situation” – if you’re stuck, or just can’t seem to start (or finish) something, change your situation. Move your desk, change your seat, or the direction in which you are sitting, or get up and go somewhere else.
Dr. Janet Butler Munch, Professor, Lehman College, talked about time management, and prioritization. During the research and writing processes, attempt to figure out what is the most important task that day (or week, or month), and “live your priorities.” Ask for and accept help from others, avoid self-sabotage, and try to stay on task, while dodging obstacles. Dr. Munch emphasized the importance of reading, observing, listening, and taking care of oneself. Her sage advice includes the following: try to anticipate heavy work cycles; use apps to monitor yourself and your time; and most importantly, “Don’t defer joy. Recharge your spirit often.”
Robert Farrell, Associate Professor, Lehman College, focused his discussion on “productivity” and the production of ourselves. There is no secret to being better, faster, or more productive at work, and laziness is (and can be) an important virtue. He talked about the difficulty of being present to/for others, and his own goals of listening more to students and colleagues. He shared a spreadsheet that he uses to keep track of all of his projects, that includes columns for where, topic, goal(s), action, due date and tools. He also emphasized the importance of “downloading your brain” to allow for more space. A few of the tools that he uses to help with this include Google Calendar and reminders, spreadsheets, and Dropbox. Finally, Prof. Farrell mentioned the benefits of mindful meditation, or meditation in general, when it comes to productivity, self-awareness, and relationship-building.
The successful and insightful event ended with a panel discussion where the speakers had a chance to talk with one another and answer questions from the audience about productivity and time management — allowing them to delve deeper into their own personal viewpoints and their individual talks.
Susanne Markgren is the Assistant Director of the Library for Technical Services at Manhattan College in Riverdale, NY. She is the ACRL/NY Mentoring Program coordinator, and serves on the Executive Board and the Symposium Planning Committee of ACRL/NY. She is a member of the New Publications Advisory Board of ACRL, and her book Career Q&A: A Librarian’s Real-Life, Practical Guide to Managing a Successful Career came out in 2013. She holds an MLIS from the University of Texas at Austin and an MFA in creative writing from Manhattanville College.