Sunday, September 21, 2014

Better to Burn Out than to Fade Away

Extra-professional obligations of mine:

  • I edit a column for the RUSQ journal, "Accidental Technologist". I'm proud of the columns I've published, but I've only written a couple. I identify topics, authors, read drafts, & provide feedback 4 times a year.
  • I write (quasi-)monthly blog posts for ACRL Tech Connect. Again, I'm proud of my posts. I also provide feedback for my excellent co-authors who mostly tolerate my nagging.
  • I'm on the LITA Forum Coordinating Committee. It's in Albuquerque this year & it's going to be great! Seriously. I'm excited about the keynotes & Forum has proven to be a great event to meet like-minded library technology folks.
  • I'm on the Code4Lib 2015 Keynotes Committee. We're still accepting nominations for keynote speakers!
  • I want to organize more Code4Lib NorCal meetups, which is the most neglected item on this list. If you're a C4L NorCal person, I promise you'll be seeing messages from me soon.
  • I'm juggling dozens of open source projects on GitHub, most of which suffer from benign neglect & could use some code & love. I just cannot help myself from jumping into new projects even when I clearly cannot commit enough. WikipeDPLA is my focal point at the moment but I've created about a half-dozen repos since publishing that & maybe I should just do one project at once.
To reiterate: these are all outside of my librarian position & while I do spend the occasional hour or two on them at work, for the most part I complete tasks outside of my 9-to-5. I'm can't get tenure, I just can't say "no". & I'm undoubtedly privileged; these are extra-professional commitments that aid my status in the profession, whereas others have extra-professional commitments oriented elsewhere. They can't put them in tenure dossiers, as unfair as that is.

But how? How can I continue? I find value in all of these bullet points, so how do I decide to say "no" to any of them? I know others are faced with similar struggles & I'm asking for advice. How do you do it all? There are so many people in libraryland who seem in a similar situation, I could name names but I'd leave someone out. I don't know how they do it, so much in such finite time periods.

Let's all take a breather. No one work for the next week. Let us catch up instead.


  1. I find I have to raise the awesomeness threshhold at which I'm willing to commit, because there are Too Many Things.

    Some tasks have obvious end dates, hence can be left gracefully and need not be replaced; your conference committees both fall on that list.

    I, um, quit my job and started freelancing, so now I can commit to more of Those Things, as long as at least some of them pay me? ;) (I have become acutely more aware of which ones DO. And forming an LLC to manage my business finances helped a lot; now I feel like I have responsibilities toward this entity whose most important asset is my time, and thinking of that time as a thing I shepherd on behalf of the company has made it easier to be objective and strategic, and say no.)

    I got better at time management software.

    I do a lot of things at the last minute :/

    1. Time management software is definitely a place I could improve. Should look into that.