Starring the important and weeding the to-do list

Wow. What a busy semester. A piece of advice: be careful what you agree to in the calm quietness of May/June. Thanks to a few projects at the end of the summer, and some new commitments, it’s been a long few months and I am really looking forward to some time off!

Interviews and Hiring

I was on the selection committee for two fulltime positions at the college in August. One of these positions is an essential position in the library and the second is a position in Educational Technology department. These experiences really made me feel better about being on a job interview. In both searches, we had several very qualified candidates, which means we hired great people but felt sad that we had to turn down great people!

I also hired three new student assistants. Again, interviewing, getting paperwork in order, training, scheduling, etc., takes so much longer than I previously imagined.

College Events and Committees

I helped coordinate and participated as a panel member for a professional development event on Wikipedia, I helped coordinate and presented a session at a new faculty conference at the college, and I presented a session on eBooks for the college’s Geekapalooza Day, all before ‘back to school’.

This year I became chair of the One Book One Community committee and our event took place in mid-October. I’ve never been so frustrated/anxious/annoyed with certain roadblocks, but ultimately we produced a successful event. The timing in October meant that I was still really busy with my ‘regular’ job duties, so I worked some looong days putting everything together.

I chair one library committee and one college committee, so I’m always planning ahead, sending emails, fielding questions, chairing minutes and helping put together various events.

Library Instruction

This semester I taught 33 information literacy sessions, from Nursing to Business to English. We also implemented a new ‘Book an Appointment’ service that has increased my one on one instruction time with students.  I also did some staff training sessions for the library. It’s a challenge to stay motivated and enthusiastic when the material becomes so familiar. What makes it worth it? Those beaming students that come back to find me to let me know they received a good mark on their assignment.


Lots of meetings…good and bad.


Put together a proposal for a graphic novels collection in the library, some weeding, some ordering of new materials.

Distributed Learning

Updated some materials for DL students, participated in a new video orientation for DL students (and I did my segment in one flawless take!).

Other stuff

Reference shifts, literature searches for faculty, additional committee work, writing reports and policies…

What I shouldn’t have spent so much time on….


What I should have done more of…

Taking breaks. Spending more time on projects that are on the back burner.

What I didn’t get to

Putting in a proposal for a conference. I really don’t know how to get going on this. I’m really craving some research time or some work from home time. At work there are so many distractions, so many requests constantly from a range of staff and students it just seems impossible to take time to prepare or reflect on work and projects I have going on or would like to propose.

Which leads me to Steven Covey’s Time Management Matrix, a framework that makes so much sense but is difficult to stick to:

The key (obviously) is to focus primarily on the High Importance items and not to get bogged down by the time sucking Urgent but Unimportant. How do you balance helpfulness to others with prioritizing major projects? The non urgent but important tasks are the ones that can pile up in a frightening way, but really are the essential work.

A colleague at another institution explained that she devotes one day per week to each of her projects. Unfortunately, this would simply not work with the structure and nature of my job. I’ve also tried only checking email 2-3 times a day but that also didn’t work well with the communication patterns of my workplace.

In general, I have an ongoing to-do list that I update on Monday morning. I star the items that I need to finish that week . With additional items being added to the list, by Friday my to-do list is a mess and all the non-starred items continually get carried over to the next week. So while I feel ‘organized’, I feel weighted down by the lengthy list.

I need to ‘weed’ my to-do list. Get rid of unimportant tasks (delegate or ignore) and put stars next to more than just the urgent items.  I think I can also give up on ever fitting in projects into the Sept-Nov period and just accept that.

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