Time Management, Planning, and Prioritization for Librarians

Bob Duckett (Reference Librarian (retired), Bradford Libraries, Archives and Information Service, UK)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 1 October 2004




Duckett, B. (2004), "Time Management, Planning, and Prioritization for Librarians", Library Review, Vol. 53 No. 8, pp. 418-418. https://doi.org/10.1108/00242530410556283



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Mr Meant‐To has a comrade,And his name is Didn't‐Do …

Its rather pedestrian title does this delightful book no favours, though the smart, slim volume is physically appealing, and the page layouts are well designed. The author's light touch and sense of humour, combined with bags of common sense (so obviously based on practical experience), make this book a most enjoyable browse. I'm sure most of us wonder where the time goes. “Nowhere!” the author remarks tartly, “Time is fixed; it is our management of how to use that time that is the problem. We are the problem!” – or words to that effect. In her opening chapter, the author looks at how people regard time – using numerous quotes and models of how people differ. She concludes with the useful distinction between internal time wasters (things we can control or change) and external time wasters (caused by someone else and not controllable).

The heart of the book is the long chapter on how to use time more efficiently and effectively. Topics include organising your work, measuring your use of time, the evils of procrastination and managing your in‐tray. I warmed to the section on how technology wastes time and particularly the piece on managing your e‐mails. The latter is the first time I've seen this covered ‐ don't use the “messages received” folder as an archive! “TRAF” still applies – Toss, Refer, Answer, File. Conferences and meetings are great time wasters – are they really necessary? They are just part of managing your networking. Dealing with people is followed by a lengthy consideration of one of the greatest and stressful time wasters of all, interruptions! And, of course, delegate – sideways and upwards as well as downwards, but avoid “reverse delegation” whereby your staff pester you with their problems!

Dealing with job stress and burnout is next: change the way you think; change the way you work; take it easy, and, of course, plan and prioritize, and DO learn to say “No!” Strategic planning forms the fourth chapter. Here we are enjoined to predict the future, or at least decide what we want the future to look like, then to analyze the results, and implement! Related to this is the need to look at the big picture, and to measure your achievements and problems, with the wider issues – strategic thinking. Priorization is the final chapter, the final instruction.

The text concludes with a bewildering array of forms – nothing complicated – far from it. There is a time waster form; a procrastination‐ending worksheet; an analyzing interruptions form; a delegation worksheet; various time logs; goal analysis; and many other semi‐serious aids that I'm sure would be seized on by trainers. The Appendices include a list of additional resources such as books, articles, Web sites, organizations and videos. There is a bibliography and an index, both excellent.

The author quotes heavily from other sources – a touch too much for my taste, since it slows down the read. She also makes copious use of question boxes, bullet listings, and other pedagogic devices, slowing down progress further (on reflection, maybe slowing down the reader is a deliberate ploy to encourage thinking – managing the reader!) The prose, though is lucid and direct. As a primer to stimulate and provoke, the book works well. The numerous quotes and snippets did catch my eye, and Dr Seuss's text is worth pinning on the workroom notice board:

I love my work, I love my pay?I love it more and more each day

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