Hello again, NMRT! This is Laura Birkenhauer, writing on behalf of the NMRT Online Discussion Forum Committee. I wanted to fill you in on a lively January discussion, hosted via Twitter chat using the hashtag #nmrtchat.
You can find an archive of the chat from start to finish by searching Twitter (search for #nmrtchat and click on the “Latest” tab) or by viewing the Wakelet collection I created, linked here: http://bit.ly/2DSP5V2
The one-hour chat included four discussion questions to encourage conversation:
- What is the most stressful part of working in libraries for you? What approaches have you tried or ideas do you have for managing this stressor going forward?
- Self-care is a hot topic these days. What self-care practices do you already enjoy or aim to incorporate into your workday/personal life in 2018?
- What does work-life balance look like to you? How can you seek to create it for yourself and, on the flipside, what can employers do to support it for their employees?
- What other tips or techniques have been beneficial to you in managing your work related stress and balancing your career with your personal life? Please share, along with relevant recommendations, articles and blog posts (esp if directly related to library work)!
Attendees spoke to a variety of stressful aspects of the profession. Challenges across the scope of LIS work included communication, a lack of downtime and the necessity of multi-tasking to accomplish the ceaseless nature of the work.
As was apparent in the chat, some positions in the library and information science field involve job-specific stressful situations, such as employment as a tenure-track or solo librarian or working with the public or difficult patrons.
Many spoke to the stress associated with change and the particular flux of our field: the challenge of proposing new ideas, limited staff, cut budgets, shifting priorities and a scarcity of full time positions.
So, how do we manage these stressful factors in our work? Chat participants shared a number of ideas, including self-care practices, which I’ve included as as an alphabetized list:
- Adopt tools to stay organized, such as Google Tasks, Google Calendar, OneNote,
- Planner Pad, Wunderlist or Trello.
- Create boundaries.
- Document difficult situations with patrons.
- Engage in mindfulness exercises.
- Find ways to engage with other librarians.
- Focus on the positive and the present.
- Listen to music or podcasts (or whatever you find enjoyable).
- Make daily, short-term and long-term goals.
- Meditate or pray.
- Practice yoga or breathing exercises.
- Read for pleasure.
- Say “no.”
- Stay on top of professional news.
- Take a break.
- Talk openly with a supportive manager or coworker.
- Try not to take things personally.
- Turn off email notifications on phone.
- Use “Do Not Disturb” phone settings.
- Use sick time.
- Utilize organizational strategies, such as to-do lists, spreadsheets or bullet journaling.
Participants spoke to striving for work-life balance through the creation of separation between their professional and personal lives. For some, that meant avoiding completing work at home, designating intentional “me time” or prioritizing enjoyable activities such as socializing or relaxing.
Suggestions for employers to further improve on work-life balance included the adoption of work from home policies, encouraging use of vacation time and wellness programs.
A number of resources were shared throughout the live chat and in response to the final question, which I’ve documented below.
- Ask A Manager
- Shine Text
- TED Playlist: The importance of self-care
- Mindfulness for Librarians: Handling Stress and Thriving Under Pressure
- Stress Management for Library Workers: Real Tools for Your Life, Career, and Workplace
Articles & Books:
Thanks to all who participated for a great chat!