Over the past 30 years I’ve had several “careers” (in the theatre, in finance, as an office manager or a project manager, and finally as an executive recruiter before starting the librarian gig) and worked in many different environments, from small 2-person offices to multi-branch companies. Every job I’ve had has been filled with things I’ve loved – beyond the paycheck and other benefits – and things I’ve hated. I’ve never had a job that’s been pure love, and sadly, I don’t expect to ever have one.
It’s one of the things I think we need to teach our students: that yes, absolutely, follow your passion. Do what makes you go to bed at night feeling fulfilled and at peace. But – and this is important – no job is going to be 100% of that. There will always be “lesser” days, and lesser tasks.
What I do now, for example, is a pretty good 80-20 mix. Sadly, the past few days have been more of that 20 because I hate filing. I hate shelving. I hate processing books. I hate them hate them hate them. There. I said it. But they’re all so very necessary if we’re to be ready for the opening of school (and by that I’m including tomorrow’s New Faculty Orientation meetings, taking place right in my library!). Even when I’ve had an assistant, shelving and filing have been things I’ve had to do. Oh: keeping track of statistics, like the number of questions we get asked daily or how used the databases are. Not as bad as filing, and miles better than shelving, but not a favorite. Yet, like a good doobie I’ve spent time this summer updating our spreadsheets in preparation for the new year. The stuff I love – working with students and colleagues, doing Reader’s Advisory, collaborating on projects and research – has been paused as everyone scatters for the summer.
Our academic dean is a big proponent of “flow” and working with faculty help them achieve it in their practice. In theory, that’s great. But in reality? I’m sure that grading papers/tests is an “unflow” moment for most of my colleagues. Necessary, but not why they got into teaching. Dealing with parents is probably another “unflow” moment. I could go on, but you get the point. And then there’s the question of the outside world interfering with the work world, for whatever reasons. That can turn any day that should be filled with “flow” into a day you’d rather not have.
A personal goal for me for this year is to create more concentrated time for the “unflow” work, getting it done promptly rather than putting it off and getting angsty about it. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I can get that 80-20 to 85-15. What about you?