It’s a very surreal experience to have an employer pay for you to go sit in a room and listen to someone talk for an entire day, but that’s what most conferences and workshops are. These conferences and workshops are ostensibly so you can learn skills you can take back to make your work better/faster/whatever. The workshop I was sent to was exactly that, but I found myself surprisingly not bored to tears (the usual experience of such workshops. Those public speakers are often not great at the public speaking bit). There were some interesting and fairly useful concepts presented during the talk, though they, of course, claim that the only way the system works is if you adopt the whole thing.
In general I’m much more in favor of the “Your Mileage May Vary”, “some advice can be a vice, take what you need and leave the rest” approach to things. Certain aspects of organizational systems ARE designed to work together and those are worth trying as a unit, but if adopting a new system means throwing away perfectly good parts of your own it’s really not going to work.
For those interested the conference I attended focused primarily on David Allen’s Getting Things Done™ methods. Nothing was particularly groundbreaking (none of it is): organization is very key to being really productive at work, don’t get bogged down in minutiae, break goals down into specific “next actions” (mentally and physically manageable parts). These things have been around forever, but at the same time when you tell most people these things they’ll agree, but not know where to start. Parts of GTD seem like they provide an outline for achievement and can be taken piecemeal as needed, so that’s good. I received a free copy of the book, though I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I did watch a TED talk with the author and I’m seriously hoping his writing beats his public speaking because it just felt like a bunch of buzzwords getting thrown around (the conference was lead by the director of another library system, not the author thankfully).
What I can say is that in general this has inspired me to apply some goal oriented, organizational principles in my own life. I’m looking out at the rest of the year and mapping out what goals require special conditions to achieve so I can start to schedule them like watching a meteor shower and entering a competition.
Also I’m going to have some god-damn socks on the needles by the end of this month, I swear!