missrachelsmith

Archive for January 2013

Managing my time

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One of the training needs I identified in my initial Personal Professional Development Plan for CILIP Chartership was to ‘improve my time management’. I’ve looked at how I cope with lots of deadlines to meet in a short space of time before, but I thought it might be a good idea to think about how the ways in which I organise my time have developed over the last couple of years and whether there are things I can do to manage my time more effectively.

Time management

I’ve always had to manage my own time at work. As a Library Assistant in the Academic Liaison team, I spent 10 hours a week assisting customers on the Help and Information desk. For a while, I digitised resources for taught modules for one morning each week. But apart from that I was given a range of tasks and jobs to do and it was largely up to me when I chose to do them, as long as they were completed. So I organised this by putting all of the activities which had a scheduled time into my Outlook calendar.

Let’s have a look at my Outlook diary…

That was then – November 2010:

November 2010 calendar

And this is now – April 2012:

April 2012 calendar

The obvious change is that the balance of what I spend designated time slots on at work has definitely shifted. In 2010, the vast majority of appointments were the green and orange hours on the service desks. Fast forward to 2012, and there are very few service desks, but I’ve traded them in for lots of meetings, one off appointments like the Staff Information Fair, and regular visits to other sites.

The good thing about having less desk slots is that I can manage my time so that I can try to create longer blocks of ‘free’ time (Tuesday, Thursday afternoon and Friday morning look quite empty in April 2012!) so I’m able to concentrate on detailed tasks such as design work. My 2010 diary, in comparison, wasn’t massively efficient as I kept having to interrupt tasks to go out to the service desks, and then just when I was getting into the customer service tasks, head back to my desk to pick up where I left off.

And the times where there’s nothing in my diary? Well, when I started working towards Chartership, a lot of the things I was working on were long-term Library activities – processing records for the institutional repository, checking reading lists, administering our student book request service – so I just tried to spend a bit of time each day on them. That’s certainly different now, because although there are things I do regularly (such as updating the Library webpages, creating notices, putting things onto our digital displays, etc), most of my work is project-based or made up of small individual tasks.

And for those kind of jobs, I have a ‘to do’ list.

Here’s what my ‘to do’ lists look like:

To do list

I absolutely love ‘to do’ lists. That hasn’t changed, since I started Chartership back in 2010. But the thing is, when I started writing these lists as a Library Assistant, they were usually fairly short and contained. A 2010 ‘to do’ list would only have perhaps six or seven items, because there wouldn’t be that many unique tasks to do.

Now, as you can see, my to do lists have become really long. I usually fill almost the whole page before I even begin – enough to add only one or two more things before I need to start a back up list (sometimes I have two or even three going at once when I’m really busy).

Let’s have a look at this list in more detail: there are three ‘statuses’. Items which have a massive tick at the front of them, perhaps unsurprisingly, are the activities I’ve finished. Jobs which have a heavy dash after them (but don’t have a tick at the beginning) are jobs that I’m in the middle of, or I’m working on, but haven’t yet completed. And then things which don’t have a dash or a tick are things which are still ‘to do’. So far, so straightforward.

But there are some problems with my beloved ‘to do’ lists.

Firstly, I’m pretty much inseparable from these lists. If I go to another site for a morning and I don’t have my reporter’s notebook which contains the list, then I am pretty much lost (in fact, I regularly email myself a mini-list when I know I’ll be away from my normal desk to avoid this very problem). But I think there’s probably an argument to say that something that I could access online might be more effective there.

Next, there’s very little prioritisation of the tasks on my ‘to do’ list. They pretty much go down in whatever order I think of them in. So as you can see, I don’t necessarily do the things at the top of the list first. And the time required to complete the tasks that go onto the list is massively varied. Putting up a pull up banner, for example, will take me 5 minutes. All of the design work, however, will take a good few hours, and will require some time when I’m not likely to be interrupted as I need to be able to concentrate.

And the other problem is – and this is probably the biggest – that not all of the tasks I need to do go onto the list. Some of them live in my inbox as ‘tasks’ – I’ll flag emails if I need to do something with them, and then mark them as complete when I’m done. But worse still, some jobs just remain in my head and seem to come back to me in waves, so I’ll forget and then remember them again at odd times, usually when I’m not in a position to do anything about them (like at 3am in the morning).

I’d also like some way of knowing when I actually completed things. This would be really useful because then I could match up particular publicity activities with web analytics, visitor numbers, etc.

So what’s next?

I read Jo Alcock’s Getting Things Done column in this month’s issue of CILIP Update, so I’ll be following this with interest. I could probably use my work calendar more effectively by blocking out time for particular activities, so I might start trying to do this more! I also think I can’t continue to avoid ‘to do’ list software… does anyone have any recommendations?

And next up, I’ll be blogging about how my project management skills are shaping up…

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Written by missrachelsmith

January 22, 2013 at 19:30

Posted in Chartership

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Chartership update

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Back in August, I said I was aiming to get my work on CILIP Chartership (and I quote) ‘cracked by Christmas’. Didn’t happen. But I’m nearly there. I can see the light at the end of the Chartership tunnel, so to speak. I’m now aiming to submit my application sometime in February and this blog may be quite busy over the next few weeks. So I thought I’d post a quick update on where I am now, and what I still have left to do…

Where I am now

  • I’ve updated my CV and tailored it towards my Chartership application
  • I’ve drafted my final PPDP
  • I’ve put together a select bibliography and I’ve added in some reflective annotations
  • I’ve started organising potential evidence into a matrix matching my development activities against the Chartership criteria and I’m beginning to see how I might organise my evidence in my portfolio

What I still have left to do

  • As I’m starting to focus in on the evidence I might submit, I’m realising that I could do with some more reflective pieces on some of the key areas I’ve developed in, such as writing and project management. So I may well be blogging about these soon!
  • I need to colour code my PPDP to highlight section two and future development activities
  • I’ve decided to include two organisational structure charts, from the beginning and the end of my Chartership progress. I need to annotate these to explain why I think it’s important to include both
  • I need to decide on the final pieces of evidence I’m planning to submit
  • I haven’t started my evaluative statement yet (I want to be able to link it to all of my evidence, so I need a good idea of what’s going to make the final cut first!)
  • Lastly, I need to organise my portfolio, create a contents table and submit my Chartership application to CILIP

Looks like I might be pretty busy for the next month or so!

Written by missrachelsmith

January 20, 2013 at 18:00