September 8, 2010

To Do, Ta-Da, and Everything In Between

One of the quotes in my Embedded Wisdom list (see sidebar) is, "You cannot break the law; you can only break yourself against the law," and if you follow me in any way shape or form, you hear this over and over again. You hear me stumble through how it relates to my new tattoo design, why it's the middle epigraph in my novel, and why I insist on bringing it up over and over. I have not yet found a way to articulate it for best effect, but I've transcended ever questioning whether it is the most important bit of wisdom I have ever heard or read. In a nutshell, some ideas keep falling into your path or getting in your way over and over again until you recognize them.

Here is one for you: Make a To-Do List. When I try to come up with something for the Task Mastery 101 sidebar, it usually ends up being about To-Do Lists. Sometimes I hesitate to post those tips because, really, what could be more of a snooze than having someone recommend that you make a list of the things that you'd like to accomplish? But over and over again I find that it often is just that simple. Here are a few reasons I decided this was post-worthy:
  1. The act of making the list organizes my random thoughts into discrete tasks;
  2. The act of making the list facilitates prioritization and decision-making; and
  3. The act of making the list moves me from inaction to action.
If that is not enough, consider this: Keep your lists. See what you checked off and what you didn't. Build evidence of what you are actually spending your time on, and what things you did not get to because you were fixing the printer or making name tents. Write in what you actually did instead of something on your list. If someone asks you what you've been working on or what you have accomplished today/this week/this year, consult your lists. Use them to revise your job description when it's time, or to draft a work plan for your library.

Last year on the Solos list-serve someone posted a great document of what she does daily/weekly/monthly/annually in her library and it was quite detailed. Parts of that could become an intern's project description, or the scope of work for a contractor, or a part of your professional portfolio. It becomes the documentation for you and everyone else of how you spent your time, and how much time things take.

In the spirit of "something for everyone," here is a new take on an old idea, that of the "To Not Do" List, which will surely be referenced when I post my magnum opus (portions in Latin) on Selectivity. Stay tuned.

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