21 July 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on my Way through the Internet...

We all say it.
We all feel it.

Dude....I'm busy.

I have a lot of things going on right now, both personally and professionally (more on these changes in a later post). And lately, I've been feeling like I have not been putting my extra-curricular, professional activities on the list of things to do. As a matter of fact, I took a few minutes today to check in on my RSS and thought to myself, "Where do they find the time"?

And then I saw this post by Bobbi Newman. It’s a great post. But I found myself nodding my head and shaking my head. And here’s why.

I nodded because I wholeheartedly agree that a lot of people use the "I don't have time" argument as an excuse, especially when it comes to technology. And like most people piping up in the comments, that drives me bonkers. A little initiative, please! I also really appreciate Bobbi's intro to her post on lifelong learning. Oh, it really boils my blood when librarians, who are supposed to be the champions and advocates of lifelong learning, talk out of both sides of their mouths. Lifelong learning is a process and one in which you need to be an active participant!! Yes, Bobbi, YES!

But, as I said, I also shook my head when I read the post. Because, frankly, I don't want to be on all the time. This is the struggle I find myself in with blogging. I work hard at work. I do a lot, I am learning a lot, I give a lot. And by the time I am done, I am ready to do something else than think about libraries, instruction, assessment, or technology. I want to put energy into the rest of my life: my garden, exercise, my dog, my community, my imagination, my cooking. My self. I want to put some energy into myself. Sometimes, I feel like in order to really be the kind of librarian that is recognized in our field, I have to be working on librarianship all the time. I love my work. So much, that a lot of the time, it doesn't feel like work. And I think that a lot of our most prolific bloggers would say that. Their blogging, their thinking, their extra-curricular professional activities are out of love, out of a desire to give back (great post on that from Andy lately), and out of a desire to share what they are learning. And I thank you. Truly. Deeply. It is from you that I learn so much. It is from you that I feel like I am in a field that is growing, not shrinking. I mean it, thank you.

But, I also want to feel like it's okay to have other priorities. I want to applaud the people that maintain a work-life balance that works for them. I repeat: a work-life balance that works for them. As individuals. And it really is different for each of us. As much as lifelong learning is a process, it is also without deadline. It is, quite literally, lifelong. I cannot do it all right now. I cannot do it all for tomorrow. I can only do so much when it comes to work or when it comes to the rest of my life in any one day. And that's ok. Granted, being an overacheiver, a lifelong learner, and just my self...I have to remind myself of that an awful lot. In case you needed a reminder too, this one's on me.


Andy Burkhardt said...

I think balance is one of my favorite qualities. It's so necessary but can often be hard to find. I think you got it right on when you said "a work-life balance that works for them." Everyone's balance is different, and it's hard to find and maintain. Sometimes you start taking on lots of things (you know about this) and you can get overwhelmed. Then you have to start dropping things to stay in balance. Really thoughtful post.

Phineas Gage said...

You raise so many good questions, Sarah. I want to recommend a new book by William Powers called HAMLET'S BLACKBERRY. The subtitle, which I will let you discover for yourself, strikes directly at these questions...

nicholas said...

Thanks for this Sarah. I read the article you referred to and had much the same reaction. Of course it is possible to do these things, however they may not always be advisable. Or, what is possible for a single librarian with few external commitments may not be possible (or advisable) for a parent.

If we are investing in our professional future, it makes buckets of sense to volunteer our free time for professional development. If that future is now, well, librarians deserve to be paid for their work as much as the next professional.

Bobbi Newman said...

Sarah - I'll confess work life balance is something I struggle with. and I don't disagree with you.

There is nothing that says you can't learn about blogging or twitter or whatever by exploring your hobbies. My first forays into blogging and other sites were totally personal.

The other part of spending your own time learning is I expect it to pay off for me. When there is money for travel or training and all other things being equal it would go to the individual investing time into growing as a professional.

Random Thoughts said...

Sarah, I appreciate your post. I think balance is entirely necessary. None of us need to be "on" 24/7, and in fact, I doubt many are.

I understand and share your desire to be recognized in our profession. Because of the isolation that most of us feel in our day-to-day professional life, reaching and receiving affirmation from leading thinkers (doers) in our community is truly a blessing. Just keep contributing and learning, and keep your life in balance.

Incidentally, I think some of my best ideas and writing has originated as the result of my "time out" activities. (If only I could convert daydreams to text while I'm swimming or doing the dishes!) When we tune out and relax, we allow our true creativity room to flow.

The Sheck said...

Thank you all for the comments.

Andy-taking on and having to drop...that is one of the worst! And something that I have had to work on quite a bit, especially as I progress in the profession. One thing our profession offers is a lot of opportunities and it is hard, especially in the beginning, to be choosey.

Rob-It's added to the wishlist. And to the bibliography!

Nick-Your point about what's possible based on one's personal life situation really hits home for me. As for getting paid for professional development, I have been so fortunate to have an incredibly supportive boss with a generous professional development budget. There are things though, that I choose to do because I want to do them, pay or no pay. As Bobbi pointed out in her comments.

At the same time, I am one of those people that likes to learn because I like to learn. I don't always expect it to pay off, even in librarianship. There are classes that I took or workshops I attend because they interest me, not because they will necessarily apply directly to my work. I guess they apply to my overall thinking about our profession or to my understanding of what's on the horizon or what other people do. And that will pay off eventually.

"Random Thoughts", thank you. I have to say, almost all of my ideas happen when I am not at work. When I am in the shower (my colleagues joke that I need a board to write in my shower for how many times I say, "I had this thought in the shower this morning!"). When I am on walks. As Poirot says, the little grey cells!