13 October 2012

Productive procrastination

I live with a librarian, someone who loves books and good printing and thoughtful design. I continue to learn with and from him, and through him I learn from other librarians. Recently Eric tweeted a link to this reflection, which is a powerful discussion of the ways in which varying work pace can make a real difference in people’s ability to be productive and generative. I think librarians share a lot in common with people in pastoral settings, so these are ideas we need to pay attention to:

One particularly volatile combination of risk factors is that of high workload with low levels of control (Sargent & Terry, 1998). A powerful way to relieve some of this pressure is to create control where we can, giving employees more tools to pace their work and more say over how their work is executed. In fact, research on productivity identifies work pacing as one of the key ways to insulate against other stresses. “A person who has too much to do is likely to be able to handle this stress if the job has some flexibility in terms of its allocation of time and energy to tasks” (Sargent & Terry, 1998, p. 231). In a workplace that can’t afford raises or promotions, workers may find relief in gaining flexibility of hours or some ability to work from home. A healthy organizational culture can set the model for effective pacing by coordinating collective down-times after periods of peak activity.

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