Over the past few years, I have discovered that I am really a project person, not a habit person. I love to tackle new things, even if they are hard and time consuming. Completing projects excites me. Completing daily tasks… well, it bores me.
This became clear while I was in grad school getting my MLS degree. You want me to read two chapters and take a quiz every week? No, thank you! You want me to create a policy manual from scratch? Absolutely!
I choose to view being project oriented as a strength!
However, the downside is that I tend to forget about the day to day things that have to get done. It’s why I will suddenly realized I haven’t shelved books all week. Or I have a stack of book requests from teachers to fill. Or worse! It’s time for check-out and the computers need to boot up!
I’ve worked on creating small habits in my day to better ensure that I keep on track.
Here are 5 things that have helped me create habits and stay on top of running the library!
The digital part is important for 2 reasons! The first is that I can set reminders. The second is that I can reschedule things easily. I really like to use my Google Calendar. I color code all the different aspects and anything that is red is school related.
This means that if I find myself out of the library when the reminder goes off, it is really simple to edit the time of the task so I can reschedule it for when I will be back in the library.
2. Habit Stack.
Habit stacking is adding a habit to something you already do.
For example, I already walk into my library and cross the room the flip on the lights. However, I was constantly forgot to turn on and log in to the circulation computers. I pass the circulation desk to get to the lights, so I stacked checking to make sure the computers were on and signed in to my morning walk across the library.
Another habit stack I created is that when I’m scanning book room books back in. I used to scan them and toss them in a crate to carry back to the book room. Now I scan and organize. I create a different stack on my library cart for each section of the book room. It’s easy to put away 10-15 books that are on the same shelf! I can do that in one of my small sections of time. 👇
3. Utilize small sections of time to complete a specific task or activity.
I run 40 minute classes all day with 5 minutes between each. Those 5 minute breaks between classes gives me 35 minutes! There is a lot of time to complete small tasks. In 5 minutes, I can shelve a few books. Or sharpen pencils. Or restock the book marks. I can straighten ONE row or basket. Use the time you have to its fullest so you can do bigger things in bigger blocks of time!
4. Teach students to do things.
I really strongly dislike many shelf management tasks like making sure all the books are lined up and turned the right way. You know who likes to do that? 7-8 year olds!
I work at a K-3 school. There are a lot of things that primary aged students can do. I teach First and Second Grade students how to read the shelves to make sure everything is turned the right way and facing the right way.
I teach Third Grade students how to read call numbers. When they find one they think is in the wrong place, they pull it out a little bit and I come behind them to check. If it’s in the wrong place, I take it and put it in the right place.
5. Set a timer.
This has been a lifesaver. Timers are especially beneficial for habits you need to build but do not like to do.
Currently, I’m trying to create a better habit for evaluation and deselection. Three times a week I set a 20 minute timer and work through sections of the library. Last year, I focused on picture books and the biography/autobiography section. This year, I’m going to focus on chapter books and the 500 section of nonfiction. By setting a timer, I make myself accountable and set aside a specific amount of time to work on a particular task. And 20 minutes is a short enough time that it goes by fairly quickly and I don’t dread the task, even though it is routine.