August 10, 2006

Time management for the hospital librarian

Posted in Productivity at 11:30 am by Alexia

While I think that time management for the hospital librarian is an oxymoron (it is hard to manage time that is not necessarily your own when part of your job is interacting with other people, i.e. Patrons) I do believe there is a way for us to organize our work day.  I will elaborate on this in later posts.  Today I wanted to point out an article from the Boston Globe, specifically two paragraphs I think relevant to hospital librarians.

To do this, she says, start by blocking an hour or half-hour each day as power time to accomplish priorities. That may mean coming in early or hiding in the cafeteria to escape interruptions.

Break tasks into 10-minute segments; when you get interrupted, jot a phrase or cue to bring you back into the task later. When people drop in or call, give them your full attention, she suggests.

While hiding in the cafeteria may is probably not feasible, coming in 1/2 hour early may or may not work.  My director found that patrons eventually discover your early arrival and will use to their advantage.

I particularly liked the the suggestion about writing down a cue.  Hospital librarians, especially if they sit at a public reference desk, tend to get interrupted a lot.  Breaking down tasks into 10 minute segments is brilliant.  It’s a small enough segment that it most likely could be completed.  Cueing can help the hospital librarian get back on task quickly, until the next interruption.  We find ourselves torn between the two aspects of our job – helping the patron and keeping the library running.  While using a tool such as jotting down a cue will not solve this conflict entirely it can go a long way in helping us balance the two aspects of our job.

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