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Time Management Tips for Librarians

By: , Posted on: April 27, 2016

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Some librarians may find time management to be confining and restrictive; they believe that they do not need to create a schedule covering every possible minute of their work day in order to feel fully organized and busy at all times. But time management does not have to be so all-encompassing; solo librarians should think of it as a skeleton to embellish later with bones, muscles, blood, and organs. It should be seen as a first step in organizing their daily schedules.

Time management can be summed up as follows:

  • Time management allows solo librarians to accomplish their daily tasks effectively and efficiently.
  • Time management plans should be flexible to allow for any changes in a solo librarian’s schedule.
  • Time management plans should allow librarians to deal with their customers first.
  • Time management plans should vary daily to allow for changes in a librarian’s tasks.
  • Each and every day, create a to-do list and prioritize that list with the most important task that needs to be completed on that day. Then prioritize other daily tasks in the order you think those tasks need to be handled. Always remember to check off a task when you have finished it – this may sound trivial, but I have found that checking off a finished task gives an enormous sense of accomplishment and spurs me on to complete the next task.
  • Break your larger tasks into smaller, more doable tasks that can be completed on a daily basis – this “chunking” makes an insurmountable task or project much easier to deal with (and keeps the hair on your head intact!). Small changes, such as chunking or checking off completed tasks, can give a solo librarian the confidence to organize and complete daily tasks and larger projects.

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It seems as most of the world owns a smartphone—I currently do not. For many years, I did not see the need (or the desire) to own one, as I did not know what I would use it for (beyond the games, social media and selfies that I don’t use). Nevertheless, many solo librarians (as well as other professionals) do use their smartphones to manage and to organize their time successfully. This is especially true for solo librarians, since they are usually the only professional managing their library without any other paraprofessional staff to assist them.

I can say now (with humility) that I will be soon be the proud owner of the smartphone, as my contract on my old flip phone expires shortly.   So I have been using my wife’s older smartphone (still running on 4G) and have been impressed by the number and usefulness of the many apps available to smartphone owners, especially those that will help solo librarians manage their time efficiently and effectively. What apps have I discovered and used and what would work best for me (and, by extension, for solo librarians)?

The primary caveat here, of course, is that what I find favorable and useful in an app, another solo librarian may not—one man’s meat is another man’s poison, to use the old saying. I will describe two time management smartphone apps and explain why I find them useful and beneficial – DropBox (https://www.dropbox.com/) and Universal Password Manager (http://upm.sourceforge.net/).

I use DropBox on my desktop computer when I work from home, but I have used the app on my smartphone as well, and I have discovered how wonderful and convenient it is to be able to open and to move documents from my desktop’s hard drive to my smartphone.   This allows me to work on writing articles or my book anywhere I have Wi-Fi access, so if I have some free time, I can write anywhere.

As I grow older, I forget my passwords, and I have too many of them to remember just by using my memory. The Universal Password Manager (UPM) allows for storage of passwords, usernames, URLs, and simple memoranda in an encrypted database, all protected by only one password (found at upm.sourceforge.net).   A UPM can run on most operating systems (including Mac), as well as allow for database synching across desktops and other devices (via a Dropbox account—another good reason to use Dropbox!)   Not having to remember every password for every account is truly a time saver.

To conclude, from my ongoing research on time management apps for smartphones, I discovered that the most useful apps provide the most time saved and organized successfully, as well being easy to set up and use.   Perhaps my foray into using a smartphone may convert some solo librarians standing on the edge of smartphone use, wanting to take the plunge.   I say, come in and the water is fine.

Larry Cooperman Photo

The author, Larry Cooperman, is an adjunct faculty librarian at the University of Central Florida, specializing in online reference research for undergraduates, graduates, and faculty. You can access his other SciTech Connect blogs including:

managing one person library

His book, Managing the One-Person Library, provides a useful and needed resource that librarians, solo or not, can use when confronted with the challenges of running a small library over a wide array of different types of libraries. You can access addition chapters on ScienceDirect here. To purchase a print or eBook, visit the Elsevier Store. Use discount code STC215 at checkout and save 30% off a print copy with free global shipping.

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