Looking forward to 2015

I wrote a lot last summer and fall, not much of it here. Two of those projects were recently published, both in OA venues. I’m working on a third project that is exciting, but may not be OA. My hope is that we can get permission to upload post-prints to our IRs. As usual, the fall semester was hectic. I offered three data workshops, did lots of outreach and planning, wrapped up one research project so I can dive into another, and started a new collaboration with our Research Integrity Office.

Over the holidays, I took some time to look back at 2014 to figure out why I wasn’t satisfied with how the year ended. In part, I ended the year sapped of mental energy and creativity because we all came down with the flu right before the holidays. Mostly though, my frustration came from the disconnect between my goals for 2014 and how I actually spent my time. As I started to gather data and information for my annual review, I realized how much time was spent on things I had not prioritized – too many service projects, too much time spent on a side project, and time spent recovering after two particularly hectic periods. The tools and systems I have in place for managing tasks, email, and scheduling didn’t really help me see the problems at the time. They took too much time to maintain and let me intermix email and tasks, which caused far too much stress when it came to dealing with my inbox.

After doing some reading and considering a couple of new ideas – time debts vs. assets and being more mindful about the information I consume – that feel relevant to where I am now, I’ve made some adjustments. I modified my weekly review process and form while adding a status report component to facilitate better communication with my team. The other major change that I’m excited about is purging my exchange account/Outlook of tasks. The Outlook feature of converting an email into a task worked in a previous environment, but has not been so effective in the library. I spent a few days slowly migrating all action items into Workflowy, a tool I’ve been using for a while. I actually like Workflowy much better now that all my tasks are in one basket. I still have some adjustments to make to my weekly review and daily prioritization to incorporate Workflowy more smoothly into the process. As a result, I had to make some minor changes to my email folders. Finally, I am (so far unsuccessfully) trying to limit checking email to 2-3 times per day. This is possibly the most important thing I can do to be more productive, but it is a deeply ingrained habit.

An example of my weekly review/status report for last week is below.

Projects (just a sample, this is embarrassingly long right now)

  • tutorials for MPH program
  • spring instructional planning for public health
  • Data Services web pages refresh
  • IUPUI DataWorks upgrade & DOI implementation
  • Data Services spring outreach planning
  • LibGuides updates for public health
  • ongoing consult with DW on NIDA grant
  • follow up on Altmetrics consults
  • planning for spring altmetrics workshop with Academic Affairs (last semester’s workshop info)
  • 2014 faculty annual review (FAR)


  • draft proposal for OR2015 with J & T
  • instructional planning for spring data management events
  • prepare for Applied Epidemiology instruction session
  • review data ownership policy language for meeting
  • work on data literacy book chapter proposal
  • faculty annual review (FAR) – finished updating service activities, progress on performance activities, progress on documentation and evidence


  • Too much time spent on faculty annual review, especially figuring out how to organize the various performance sections and gathering data on consultations and instruction; I need to do a much better job of organizing this data in one place throughout the year or build in more time repurposing it for the FAR in December/January.
  • data ownership policy meeting was rescheduled to later this month; this will push us back several weeks
  • not enough progress made on spring event planning
  • dove too far into the faculty advancement/development literature looking for effective programs for developing faculty research skills; am I taking the wrong approach with this question?
  • didn’t find time to write this month’s Data Topics newsletter; must prioritize next week

Personally and professionally, my goal this year is to rebuild my reading habit my reading more long-form texts, especially books. This also requires rebalancing the time spent on “discovery” in Twitter. It’s great for scanning the environment in areas that interest me, but is less than helpful when I need to be really informed about something. Weeding my “to-read” list has helped relieve some of my anxiety; more importantly, I have to be careful about adding to it thoughtfully going forward. So far, this has been going well as has the “must be relevant to immediate or upcoming projects” rule. I read several novels and non-fiction books from my pile over the holidays and have been fairly consistent in my daily reading since going back to work. Prioritizing the enormous work-related pile is much harder, but I’m letting two active projects dictate my reading priorities for now.

What I’m reading this week…

By Heather L. Coates

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