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How Charlie Gets Things Done

The Productive Librarian is a cool project run by Jess, a library director in North Carolina with a self-described “productivity obsession.” She interviewed me for one of her recent posts on how librarians get things done, i.e. how they keep productivity up and despair down.

I really enjoyed doing the interview — we exchanged emails to do the interview, so I had time to really consider my answers: how do I keep track of things? What do I do when I feel like the day is getting out of control? Here’s a small chunk from the interview:

How do you make sure that you have a productive work day?

Deciding what I will do is the biggest part of a productive work day. What task am I focused on? Am I working on this until it is done, or for a specified amount of time? The most insidious enemy of productivity is being unable to choose which project to engage.

How did you develop your productivity habits?

Through constant, desperate experimentation. I have been working this way for the past couple years after a very bad, overwhelming year. I’ve taken some of the Getting Things Done principles and made my own version that fits my personality.

Often librarianship requires time spent with patrons that isn’t always scheduled. How do you deal with that? How does it affect your productivity?

I never, ever, ever plan to finish something the day it needs to be finished, so I always have a buffer in case someone just drops by my office. If I’m ever pushed into that corner of finishing a deliverable on the day it’s due, then I’m out of the office or hiding in the stacks. And I let people know that I’m unavailable in that emergency time, so that someone can handled unscheduled events.

You can read the whole thing here.