Title: Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style by Carson Tate
Genre: Non-Fiction, Organization
Source: Library Copy
Publisher: Portfolio 2015
Right in the middle of June, I promoted from part-time librarian to full-time librarian. The leap from 20 hours to 40 hours a week took a much larger toll on my personal life than I could have ever been prepared for. I’ve been lucky in life to have been able to work part-time since the birth of my son a couple of years ago. I pretty much had it all. I had my home life and my work life in a perfect balance. Then I promoted to full-time and everything went wonky. Life at home was rushed and stressful. Life at work was rushed and stressful. Mostly because of the extra hours, the extra workload, and extra responsibilities that come with being a full-time librarian. The difference between part-time and full-time is ridiculous. There are more committees, more meetings, more supervising, more corresponding, more and more things both big and small to keep track of and monitor.
This book by Carson Tate I stumbled upon by complete accident in the library one day. Both the cover and the title stood out to me right away. When I began reading this book, I realized that the author took a completely different slant on organization than other books in this genre. While so many books and articles focus primarily on time management, Tate’s book differs in that she focuses on work management. Once the work is managed, the time management just naturally follows suit. Initially, she has each reader take a small personality quiz to see what their productivity style is. Although I had myself pegged as an Arranger based on the description, the quiz stationed me as a Planner and Prioritizer. The fourth option is Visualizer, which I am 100% at not. I ranked quite low in that category. Each chapter covers a different element, from creating a working space at home or at the office, to emails and meeting preparation. Each chapter has a breakdown of tips and advice for each of the different productivity styles. I read through all four descriptions, picking and choosing the ones that I could best apply to my life at the library. Although the selections for the Prioritizer and Planner for the most appropriate for me, I did find a few gems in the Arranger and Visualizer fields.
What was most helper was Carson’s guide to creating a To-Do list. It’s just not any to-do list. This list has really changed how I approach work when I arrive in the mornings. It’s a multi-step process, but well worth the time. First she has you do a “brain dump” which is basically listing out all of your to-do lists, no matter what they are, work or personal. During this process, my list had already pretty much come out in categories. These categories I later added to, or reshuffled so that it made more sense grouping like responsibilities together. After this initial brain-dump, the next step is to look towards the upcoming month. Access goals, outcomes and projects. Basically getting a general bird’s eye-view of what needs to be accomplished in the next 30 days. Then, it’s the weekly view. This should be done either at the start or end of each week. I like to do this at the start. I sit down with my list of projects for the month. I then select a few choice projects to focus on for that week. What absolutely needs to be done at this time. Then I write out a week’s project list. After that comes the daily project list. For this, Tate suggests to select no more than 3 major projects to focus on during the day. This ensures that these projects receive a proper amount of attention and detail, can be accomplished in a day, but also leaving wiggle room in the day’s schedule for unplanned emergencies or disruptions.
This type of planning has really been my saving grace. I feel like I’m off the hamster wheel of work assignments. For so long, I felt like I’d finish a project, but never feel like I had actually accomplished anything. Now with my list of projects, my list of goals, my list of needs and responsibilities, I can tackle each work day with some form of confidence. So far, I’ve been using Tate’s system for a little over a month. But I noticed a different immediately in the first week of using her system. Her emphasis on work management, rather than time management is really the best took for balanced a varied and hectic work schedule. Especially since she does take into consideration modern-day technology and work environments. I was hesitant with this book, thinking it might be more for corporate cubicle employees, but it surprisingly did apply to the library field.
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