Posts tagged ‘linkedin’

Clutter Lovers Unite: Don’t stress about the mess!

I was gratified this morning to read this article in the New York Times by Sara Rimer: An orderly office? That’s personal. The article reports on Lisa Whited, an interior designer who specializes in adapting work spaces to the needs, habits, and goals of their users. She’s not your typical “get rid of the clutter now!” organizer. Instead of boilerplate suggestions for getting organized, Whited begins her jobs by interviewing clients to determine their specific work habits and styles.

What particularly caught my attention was that after interviewing her client (the author of the article), Whited surmised that she was the kind of person who needed to see things in front of her or else she forgot she had them, so putting things away in a filing cabinet might not be an effective organizational strategy. Reading those words, I wanted to reach into the paper (well, into the laptop–I read the Times online now) and wrap my arms around Whited and thank her for validating my life.

Out of Sight Out of Mind
See, I’m an out of sight out of mind kind of guy. Just today I came to work without my wallet (it was “put away” in a drawer), and twice last week I came to work without my phone (it was charging in another room.) I pretty much have to organize my morning so that anything that requires my attention (phone, wallet, pants. Well, maybe not pants, I’ve effectively habitualized that one) needs to be visible to me when I’m leaving the house.

Likewise, with work. My whole organizational strategy is about keeping important things in my field of vision. If I’m not looking at it, it may as well not exist. (Note to friends and family: Apologies for being out of touch but I forgot that you existed.)

Since there’s only so much that I can keep on my desk, it’s generally not possible or practical to have too many physical reminders (notes, papers, etc.) in my field of vision. That’s why I rely heavily – VERY heavily – on text message and email reminders which I liberally set for myself using Google Calendar. (Note to Google Calendar: I’m not saying I’d leave my wife for you, but I admit we have something very special.)

Everyone I’ve ever worked with has learned that I will not see a message unless it’s placed on my chair seat. I’ve learned that if I need to do something first thing in the morning, I leave a note on my keyboard where I can’t miss it. Before text message reminders came into my life I relied heavily on taping notes to the doorknob at home (“remember to go to meeting in Trenton this morning!”)

While paper reminders in my field of vision can help, they also have their downside. One piece of paper can be accidentally placed over another piece of paper. Or it can blow away. Or it can have coffee spilled on it. For these reasons, I’ve actually arranged my work life to be as free from paper as possible. There’s probably the equivalent of 20 reams of paper sitting on my desk right now, most of it in colored folders. 98% of it has been generated by someone else and given to me at a meeting or conference. If it’s something I think I may ever want to reference again, I’ve trained myself to scan it into PDF so I have an electronic copy. One great benefit of putting everything into electronic format is that, thanks to Google Desktop Search, I can find anything I ever “touched” on my computer — email, website, pdf, etc. — immediately, and sometimes quicker!

Don’t Judge My Piles!
While these piles on my desk may look like a mess to the outside observer, I like having them visible because they remind me to look through them now and then and pull out little tidbits. A note jotted in the margin a of a Powerpoint handout from a conference presentation or a handout from a workshop I’ve given (and completely forgotten about) can trigger new insights and connections, or give me a new perspective on a problem I’m dealing with. I like the serendipity of it. It’s both relaxing to me and stimulating.

Perhaps one reason most “get organized” books fail to help people like me is that they’re written by people who are not at all like me—they’re written by people who equate neatness with organization, and assume that a neat orderly environment is an a priori good and an end unto itself. I think the authors of these books are people who feel stressed out when they see a lot of stuff, so by gum they’re not only gonna put away their stuff, they’re gonna make sure MY stuff is put away too!

But they fail to appreciate that many people (like me) are NOT like them—we don’t function best when everything is “put away”, nor are we particularly stressed by clutter. In fact, I’m generally oblivious to clutter. I don’t even see the piles of paper on my desk.

Organization Is Not an End Unto Itself
This is what I want to tell the neatniks, declutterers, straighteners, and put-awayers of the world: Organization is a tool. It is a means to an end but it is NOT an end unto itself. The end is effectiveness. Happiness. Comfort. Flow. And I need lots of stuff around to achieve those states. So thanks for trying to help, but my brain isn’t wired like yours. So if I need help getting organized I’ll call Lisa Whited because she understands. It’s personal.

Links added April 2:

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March 26, 2009 at 10:59 am 7 comments

What Libraries Can Learn from Facebook

A colleague and I were discussing the recent Facebook TOS kerfuffle and she said she was fascinated by how much privacy people are willing to give away in exchange for a desired experience. I agreed that I am equally fascinated, and that it is vitally important for librarians to be on the vanguard of monitoring these trends, and educating our customers as to the possible risks of sharing too much information.

But I also think that librarians, at times, can be too knee-jerk about privacy issues, and I wonder if while looking at one end of the Facebook dustup (big corporation trampling on privacy rights) we might be missing some important lessons on the other end (big corporation letting customers control their own information in exchange for a highly engaging experience. And Facebook DOES give customers a tremendous, leading edge, amount of control. See: “10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know.)

We all know that people (myself, and probably you included) will share personal information in exchange for a quality experience. We share personal renting and buying habits in exchange for Netflix and Amazon recommendations. We share personal reading habits on GoodReads and LibraryThing to connect with others who share our interests and tastes. We share our credit card numbers with many online vendors in exchange for the convenience of “one-click” ordering.

We know all this, and we personally experience the benefits, but librarians still seem generally loathe to let our customers share their personal information in exchange for anything. We don’t just protect customer privacy, we paternalistically protect it from the customers themselves, rendering them childlike. Our privacy philosophy often reduces down to, “We know better”, or “You can’t be trusted with that–you’ll hurt yourself.”

Our choice to disallow customer control of their own information means that their needs for connection and social networking go unmet, which in turn creates opportunities for entrepreneurial companies like Library Elf, GoodReads, and LibraryThing (created by frustrated library lovers, I wonder?) to come in and fill those needs. Which is great, but why aren’t libraries creating and offering these experiences?

I worry every day about whether libraries will be relevant, three, five, or ten years from now. Unless we start allowing our customers to make decisions about their own personal data, AND start building systems that offer them a social networked experience based on their ability to selectively share their heretofore private info, I fear that libraries will grow increasingly irrelevant to our customers.

February 19, 2009 at 7:43 pm 13 comments

Twitiquette: A Short but Helpful guide to Twittering Conference Meetings

Man oh man was there a lot of twittering going on at ALA midwinter. Ain’t it great that so many librarians are using Twitter to shed light on the decision making going on in Committees and let the rest of the organization know — in real time — what’s getting a thumbs up or a thumbs down, who’s arguing for what, and why.

Revolutionary.

As Karen Schneider brilliantly put it, (ALA) “Council may not be interested in transparency, but transparency is interested in Council.” All good. All good.

Since this radical real-time transparency thing is all still kind of new to some of us I thought a short guide on the etiquette of live twittering of committee business might be helpful:

  1. Twittering the real-time decisions of your committee: GOOD

  2. Twittering snide, insulting, remarks about your fellow committee members while they speak: NOT GOOD
  3. Twittering snide, insulting remarks about your fellow committee members while they speak and marking it with #ala09 hash tag to ensure that the widest possible audience sees your comment: REALLY VERY NOT GOOD

Yes, this really happened. No, I’m not naming names. I can tell you this though: My respect for the committee member that was twitter-slagged remains in tact intact. My respect for the slagger is in the toilet and I’m reaching for the handle.

I’m still deciding how (or if) to address what happened. Any suggestions are welcomed.

Photo courtesy of: http://flickr.com/photos/anndouglas/422445833/

February 3, 2009 at 7:36 am 8 comments

Friday Fun: Sleeping your way to the top

[Note: this was a Toastmasters speech I gave last year, slightly revised for your reading pleasure.]

It has long been suspected, but scientific studies prove it: Sleeping around the office is a great way to make it to the top.

If you don’t believe me, consider this: A study released by the National Sleep Foundation says that taking afternoon naps increases your productivity.

A Survey of American workers supports this finding with 40% reporting that daytime drowsiness prevents them from doing their best work.

But Napping doesn’t just improve our productivity, it may even save our lives.

Consider this: Fatigue has widely been cited as a contributing factor to both the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents. The Pepsi syndrome? I think not. The ambien syndrome, maybe… You know a few well-placed nap rooms at our nuclear facilities could make the difference between active workers and radioactive workers.

Sleep deprivation has also been cited as a contributing factor to numerous railroad accidents. Engineers need to spend less time on their feet and more time on their… caboose.

There are many studies that show a marked loss of alertness in the afternoon. Did you know that more accidents occur between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. than in any other 2 hour span? And when you consider how many drunk people are bumping into things at 2 am on Saturday night, that’s a truly sobering thought.

So on one the hand we have the possibility of sleepy employees and train derailments and nuclear destruction, and on the other hand we have alert employees and an attentive, productive workforce. And yet Nap enthusiasts still find employer resistance to catching a little cubicle snooze. Why?

Why why, why?

Because the poor, sweet, gentle, nap has been unfairly stigmatized as the luxury of the rich or the indulgence of the lazy. This was probably epitomized in the classic Seinfeld episode when George Costanza worked so hard to conceal his dirty little napping secret: A nap chamber custom built into his desk. But as dumb and lazy as George Costanza was, he knew enough to avoid the stigma of the nap!

Unfortunately, the taint of napping in the workplace is all too real, so nap rooms may not soon be coming to an office near you.

But fear not fellow dozers, nodders, sleepers, and snoozers, all is not lost! Recent research in the field of creativity suggests that a mere BREAK in the “attentive activity” can lead to clearer, more creative thinking.

Scientists who have spent millions of dollars and years of their lives studying the phenomenon call this an “incubation hypothesis.” You and I call it “taking a break.”

According to the “incubation” hypothesis, it is best if we incubate once or twice a day for a period of 10-20 minutes and we should engage in no activity during this incubation. The incubations’ only function is to divert our attention from work, thus releasing our minds. We are thereby enabled to freshly engage in our tasks and do better creative problem solving when we return from the “incubation”.

I think Archimedes would wholeheartedly agree with the incubation hypothesis. In Greek probably, but he’d agree.

You remember the story of Archimedes? Eureka! Archimedes made a major scientific discovery while soaking in the tub. It’s suggested that Isaac Newton discovered gravity while lounging under an apple tree. And Frederick Banting, who dreamed how insulin could be used to control diabetes – and won the Nobel prize for his discovery-would certainly agree that a little shut-eye can work wonders.

So why do most employers still frown on napping and slacking? Maybe nappers need to get the research into the hands of a good PR firm. I can see the billboards now: Save a life, take a nap.

There is at least one major American company seems to get it. Google!

Google permits their employees to spend 20% of their time on non-work related activities. Stacy Sullivan, Google’s HR Director says,

“We want to take as much hurry and worry out of people’s lives as we can, because a relaxed state of mind unleashes creativity. Everybody’s on flextime here, so we don’t reward face time or working super-long hours. We just measure results.” And as we all know, the results at Google have been pretty good. Hey, maybe George Costanza had it right after all… Maybe sleeping our way to the top really is the way to go.

I will leave you to ponder: To drowse or not to drowse, That is the question.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a great deal of work to do so I’d better get back to my desk and, uh, nod off?

[Sleepy Penguin photo courtesy of: http://flickr.com/photos/slightlynorth/1583420981/ Some rights reserved]

January 30, 2009 at 1:48 pm 7 comments

Nine Predictions and 5 3/4 Questions for the New Year

A very Happy New Year to readers in the Garden!

I’ve come across two little gems that have helped get my head and my heart in the right place as I embark on another (universe willing) 365 revolutions.

The first is Branding Guru Tom Asacker’s Nine Predictions for 2009. This isn’t your your typical “let me tell you how it’s gonna be” upchuck of New Year prognostications. I love Asacker’s wit, warmth, and wisdom. If you like his predictions, I highly recommend subscribing to his blog feed and/or his insight-packed and highly readable and entertaining books. (Note: Asacker’s predictions are posted as a PDF. If you want to read in more bookmark-cut-and-pastable html, see link at: http://www.smallbusinessadvocate.com.)

The second gem is Michael Stanier’s The 5.75 Questions You’ve Been Avoiding. It’s a very nice flash animation with a drummy-jazzy soundtrack. Have a pen handy or plan on watching it twice! If you dig it, check out Michael’s blog, The Possibility Virus.

Bon Appétit!

As for me, I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions. But one of my intentions for 2009 is to continue to ask and answer the question, “What is the need here, and how may I be of service?” AND to remember to factor my own needs into the equation.

Wishing you all good things in 2009!

January 2, 2009 at 12:27 pm 5 comments

I Hire People For Two Reasons

“I hire people for two reasons — and this is true– I hire people if they’re enthusiastic and if they’re nice. And to me nothing else matters… If they have those two things, we can teach ‘em.” -Bobby Flay, at Learning2007 Conference.

From: http://www.learning2008.com/Learning-2008-content/voices.htm

More Goodies:

November 7, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Giving Effective Presentations

Aaron Schmidt has a really great post over at Walking Paper on “How to Give a Good Presentation.” It’s definitely worth reading through, including many super comments.

A few months back I posted a collection of links, “Talk Good: How to Give Effective Presentations“. In addition to those links though I’d like to add a few of my own thoughts to this conversation. First, let me say that I prefer to frame this as giving “effective” presentations rather than “good” ones because effective implies that you’re actually trying to, well, have an effect. And I think that one of the most important elements of any presentation — the element that makes it much more likely that your presentation will be effective — happens before you’ve written one word or found one cool image for your powerpoint. The most important element is asking the question, “What do I want people to do as a result of seeing/hearing my presentation?”

Should your slides be graphic heavy? Text Free? Should you provide handouts? Should the presentation be posted, and if so in what form? Should additional information be included in the posting? My answer is, it all depends. I think it makes absolutely no sense to dictate the answers to these questions without first asking, “what am I trying to achieve?” The next question of course is, “and how can I best achieve it?” How you answer this question dictates your content and sequencing.

There are also many variables that will affect how you craft your presentation: Just a few variables of the top of my head:

  • Who will be in the audience? Is it heterogeneous or homogeneous? Are there certain people in the audience with more influence that I would like to reach?
  • How large is the audience? Will I get to mingle? Am I miked, or is it more intimate?
  • What is there outlook?
  • What is their predisposition to change their behavior? Are they a friendly or resistant audience?
  • What is their knowledge level?
  • How much time will I have to present?
  • How much other information is being thrown at them (am I the main act, or one presentation of many?
  • What technology tools do I have at my disposal? Live internet? Projector? Just a microphone?
  • What is the room setup?
  • Will the presentation, or parts of it, be archived or made available online after the fact? Do I intend this to ever be seen again?
  • Is the presentation intended to be instructional? provocative? informative? heretical? inspiring? challenging?

I’m sure you can think of more variables that you’ve considered when crafting your own presentations. The important thing while preparing is to continually refocus yourself on what you are trying to achieve and critically evaluate the content and sequencing of your presentation to make sure everything supports and nothing detracts from your goal.

A few other ideas that may enhance the effectiveness of your presentation:

  • Share your presentation with others before you do it and get feedback to see what’s working and what isn’t. Inevitably, you will have written things that are clear as crystal to you, but clear as mud to others.
  • If it’s appropriate to the presentation, try to make it as interactive as possible. Ask questions. Encourage audience members to talk to each other. Doing this early in the presentation with a provocative question can create an immediate buzz and get a lot of energy flowing.
  • Conclude the presentation with a challenge or a request. Ask something of the audience. Ask them to commit to doing one thing differently.

What are your tips? What’s worked for you?

October 29, 2008 at 8:20 pm 4 comments

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