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Monday, November 28, 2016

SLP Musings, Part 3: On Being Overwhelmed and Exhausted

Take a tip from the koala:  REST!

Several people listed being overwhelmed and exhausted during the summer in the exercise about the thing people hate the most about the Summer Library Program.  I think we can all relate to the feeling of being inundated with things to do, events, staff shortages, lots of extra kids (some unsupervised and at the library for hours at a time), and the huge input of energy it all takes.  Let's think about some things related to that:

  • Vacations:  Some people feel like they cannot take any vacation time in the summer.  This is a problem!  Summer is prime time for spending time with family that is occupied with school during the rest of the year, and for many outdoor activities! Plus, summer is the time you are busiest and most in need of a break.  Think about how you can make this work--and if you have staff helping you, think about their need of a break, too.  Consider summer vacations when planning your programs--remember your resolution to start doing more passive/provocative/stealth programming, and plan ahead for some of those programs during times when staff will be shorter.  Consider all the elements of your program, and think about ways you can make room for times when it isn't critical to have all hands on deck!
  • Simplify:  If prizes, registration and paperwork are all things that make your program unwieldy, take a good hard look at how you do them.  Are there ways you can simplify or even eliminate some of these elements?  The rest of the library staff will appreciate any simplification you can do.
  • Pace yourself:  Remember that your whole career as a librarian is more of a marathon than a sprint (at least we hope so!).  You don't have to do every single cool or important thing at once, though it can feel like that is the case.  Step back for a minute and look at what you are trying to do and then prioritize the most important things.  
  • Think about the rest of your life: No matter how much we simplify and plan, summer is going to be busy and overwhelming sometimes.  How can you build some things that give you energy into your daily life?  Think about whether diving into another project that is unrelated to work will help you feel more energized and excited about life, or if it will make you feel exhausted and weary--either is possible!  Make sure that you feed your need for solitude and for friends and family.  Ask for help from your loved ones to help make sure you carve out time to rest, whatever that means for you.
  • Notice good stuff:  Both at work and at home!
  • Forgive yourself:  You will have some flops.  Some things won't go as well as you hoped.  You will feel tired and cranky sometimes.  You won't be able to do as much as you wanted to, both at work and at home. Forgive yourself for all of it, let go, and move on to the next thing.