Time Management and Other Random Thoughts on Standing Up for Yourself

Last month I wrote about surviving group work as it had been a frequent topic on the HLS blog. This month I wanted to briefly cover another important HLS topic and focus for all of us in MLIS school, and that is the issue of time management. We all know we have to deal with it and for sure some of us are better at this skill than others. I know there are some quarters where I am knocking it out of the park every week, staying ahead in my classes, etc. and there are some weeks that totally suck and for the life of me I cannot motivate myself to do any readings and regret going back to school! Can anyone relate?!

In his January 2020 post, guest HLS blogger, Tom Beheler, presented ten top notch time management tips for surviving library school and life that I could not have written any better in his post Ten Tips for Time Management: Surviving Library School and Life (check this out!). The most important advice here that I want to highlight is to make a good first impression and communicate with your professors, instructors and reader/graders. They are there to help! Email them as much as you need to for clarity and if something doesn’t make sense ask questions (I guarantee you more than half the class has the same question, but for whatever reason will not ask themselves). Also, read the assignment instructions and follow the rubric so you don’t waste your time doing unnecessary things for an assignment and are putting your brain power towards things that will get you the most points. I would also add to this list to create a productive working space for yourself. For me that means having a space with my computer that is free from noise and getting my dog and child out of the room for even an hour, so I am solely focused on myself and the work at hand. I have found that even 20 or 30 minutes of uninterrupted time where I can completely focus allows me to get so much done. You can get through a reading, write a few hundred words, start that presentation, catch up on correspondence, etc. Don’t let your personal email, social media, or other notifications pop up either – turn all that off and give yourself the gift of time. You deserve your time more than anyone else does.

Finally, I wanted to offer some other advice around sticking up for yourself and not discounting your abilities. One of my professors this quarter said something that has stuck with me and that I have been thinking about a lot lately. He said, “people in this program (UW MLIS program) often tend to discount their abilities and discredit their skills.” I agree with this, and I do it often myself. Why is this? Is it because this profession tends to be female-focused and we are more likely to not give ourselves credit? That may be part of it. I am not completely sure why this is, but I see it with my peers and myself and I am committed to breaking this cycle.

As someone who is a mid-career professional looking to completely pivot 180 degrees to a new profession, I have doubts nearly every day about my ability to find a job in my new field (hopefully in corporate librarianship, taxonomy or knowledge organization). But I am committed to thinking of all the practical skills I have learned in my MLIS program, my directed fieldwork, my current thesaurus/taxonomy project that has provided a real-life example of work in this field that is transferrable. And the fact that I have worked for nearly 15 years supporting people in a business administration field of work and the amount of patience and perseverance that has taken will surely lend itself well to the field of librarianship. I am done discounting myself and thinking I can’t do it when I know I can. I think fostering this belief will also shine through when I start the interviewing/job searching process in about six months. Remember, you are qualified, you do have skills to offer, and an employer would be lucky to have someone with an MLIS degree. It takes some serious chops to get through this program! Believe in yourself…..I know I am going to continuously believe in me!

Have any time management tips that you have found helpful in graduate school? Or any thoughts to share about ways to protect yourself when people discount your abilities?

By Erika Whinihan, third year online MLIS student, Information School, University of Washington (erikaw9@uw.edu)

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