So Many PLNs, So Little Time: Managing My In-Box Pile-Ups

This morning I checked my personal email and I see them all standing there, fully at attention, still unread, slightly accusing. All my library soldiers, my PLN newsletters, digital copies of journals, calls for papers and presentations and bloggers, conference invitations, reminders of the fact that Banned Books Week is coming up and, hey, you’ve got that covered amirite? A constantly evolving, auto-pilot enabled international school librarian to-do list.

Must. Remember. To. Breathe.

These in-box pile-ups are in addition to my current Twitter #PLN channels that scroll off the screen at minimum resolution  (#inTLchat, #TLchat, #inTLlead, #futurereadylibs, #nerdcampMI, #AfricaED, #IBLibrary, current and past schools), the conferences I’m shadowing, the Facebook groups (Int’l School Library ConnectionLibrary Think Tank – #ALATTFuture Ready LibrariansGlobal Literature in LibrariesSLATT–School Librarians are Think Tankers!, September is #WorldKidLit Month, ISTE Librarians NetworkThe School Librarian’s Workshop, International Schools Information Technology Leadership and Integration), webinar archives that keep popping up because I keep signing up, virtual conferences (which I love!), the Twitter bookclubs I am so keen to participate in, best example right now #ReaderComeRead for librarians who are reading Maryanne Wolf’s new book Reader Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World 1-30 September 2018, and on and on.

Both the bane and blessing of my existence as an international school librarian is my social media use/dependency. Social media both keeps me sane (a combination of the whole knowing I am not alone in my library life plus an occasional dose of misery loving company) and provides me with worries that can keep me up at night. I can never do it all. I can spend hours following along on Twitter, following all those Facebook groups (see above), adding reviews to Goodreads, blogging here at World Librarian and at The Uncommon Reader, skimming and scanning articles and posts for future lessons, and all the time wondering whether to create an Instagram account for my current library program on top of everything else.

Enough already.

What I know for sure is that it is ultimately about priorities. Our digital lives requires us to slow down enough, dial it back enough, turn it off enough and clarify some goals, challenges and priorities. Somehow reach the “enough” as of this moment.

Because the bottom line is this: If everything is a priority, then nothing is.

And of course I could just unsubscribe to a few things.

But what if I miss something? Miss out on something?

Lose my edge?

So I want to give myself permission to decide what is enough for me. And that could mean deleting emails that I don’t have time to read. I can filter them as an intermediary step and then, if needed, delete entire folders if I need to to reach some level of enough.

I want to give myself permission to miss out on library events and programs and great good things that I can’t fit in to my current timetable. Especially if the only person excited about something as cool as Banned Books Week is me.

I want to choose where to put my attention, but mostly I can choose to let some things go. I can focus on the yeses in my professional practice and, due to the beauty of international school teaching, I can think about programs, events, and projects again for next year which is shiny and bright with potential and not burdened with this year’s open house schedule…yet.

I want to sort and file and skim and scan and search and muse and wonder and maybe even get something written. I am curious and like to experiment. At the end of the day, experimenting with ways to navigate the information flood is the best test of my ability to help my students with their own management of their digital lives. I likely need to embrace the power of “No” to many inputs in order to reach a manageable “enough”. This is Goldilocks time for me, because I am feeling like the porridge is way too hot and overflowing the bowls this particular Sunday morning.

What are your #PLN benefits and burdens? How do you navigate those floodwaters of ideas and information? How do you define “enough”?



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