"Confusion never stops/Closing walls and ticking clocks. . . "
--From the lyrics to Coldplay's "Clocks."
With the busy month of April over, I have a very small window of time at the start of May to recuperate, review what was done, what was missed, and make the list of tasks for May and the summer. For an outreach librarian, April can be a very busy month. This is not something I would usually do, but as an illustration, I took a photo of what I call my "tactical board" (my whiteboard where I map out my tasks for a month). Most of the items on the list are crossed out, meaning they got done. In plain numbers, out of 52 items on the board, I only missed 7. I suppose that is not too bad. I do have to clarify that those 52 items do not include the various tasks my director heaped on me during the month, often at the spur of a moment. The additional items not on the board did get done, so I guess in the scheme of things, I was mostly on track. Here is another little lesson for those of you out there who may be thinking about librarianship or, heaven help you, follow a path similar to mine: learn how to balance what you know needs to get done with what your director will inevitably ask you to do that also needs to be done. In case of doubt, err on the side of keeping your director happy.
By the way, if my two readers are curious, they can find the list of the seven missed items with the board's photo over on the scratch pad. If you are not interested, then just keep reading.
One of the things you learn as an outreach librarian, and one of these days I have to do a better post on the things I do, is the time factor. You have to be good at time management; you need a sense of the long term planning as well. And in the end, once you have done your duties, and everything is in place, you have to let nature take its course. In addition, I have known this for a while, but I was reminded of it again during the month of April. You need patience, and sometimes you need to prod people. A challenge for me is dealing with things I can't control. If I make requests from other people, I have to wait on them. If they are not exactly the most diligent people, to put it politely, it gets frustrating personally. But I cannot control what others do. You can prod; you can remind them; you can harass a bit, but at the end of the day, they have to do their jobs so you can do yours. It is moments like that where a lot of patience is required, where you need to remind yourself that, at the end of the day, you can only control your own reality and actions. While I have a couple of specific instances in mind, in the interest of civility, I am keeping them for my private journal. I more interested in the larger lesson here. Oh, and if bad does come to worse, always have a Plan B.
"This will change too, very quickly. Like a planet spinning off into the universe. . ."
--General Patton, from the film Patton.
I barely have the time to reflect as I am doing now. I am already geared up for May, and though May is a slower month, there is still much to do. But I have learned over time that taking some time to think and reflect on what has been done is helpful. For one, some of this I can use for any official assessment the powers that be may require. But more important for me, it helps me to see where I've been. It helps me to see what I did well, what can be improved, and what still needs to be done. The challenge is that moments like this for reflection are few and far between. Indeed, conditions do change quickly as the next task or project comes around. So it is necessary to take those small pivotal moments to reflect. That's what I do because it works for me. I just have to keep fighting for the time to write and reflect.
And moving right along. . . .