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And this is how I work: COVID-19 edition

I always loved the “This is how I work” postings and always meant to do one.  Well COVID-19 sequestration has given me the time this weekend to write one up. It might be TL:DR but WTH.


We’re sheltering in place in our 3 bedroom Co-op apartment.  “We” are:

  1. Me, a consultant for libraries and the executive director of the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries.
  2. Stephanie, my wife of almost 42 years, a teacher who is suddenly teaching her grade 5 boys from home and doing 2 videos a day, full lessons and plans, ZOOM, and Google Docs from her home office. She’s a hero who learned all this tech and adapted her lesson plans in the past 2 weeks!
  3. Sydney, our 32 year old daughter, who has migrated back to Ontario from BC 8 months ago.
  4. Kieran, Sydney’s husband, who has moved back to Ontario from BC to re-establish his career here closer to the rest of his family for Sage.  He’s in construction as a foreman, which has been declared an essential service here so he works all over Southern Ontario but mostly the GTA.
  5. Sage Violet, our precious 7 month old granddaughter who lights up every minute.
  6. Rose – the dog – a brindle terrier mix named after Sydney’s favourite wine.
  7. Nudie – a tiny sphynx cat – who is naked hairless as anything . . . and crazy.
  8. Pizza – a long haired Siamese cat – so named because he’ll grab the pizza right out of your hand.

There’s a crowd for you!

Here we go:

6:30 a.m. Stephanie feeds the pets while I wake up and walk the dog. She’s a big dog and she insists.

6:45 a.m. The dog, the cats, and I go back to bed together for an hour.  Stephanie starts working on lessons.

8:30 a.m. I go out and get my coffees and walk the dog again. Those who now me know that I NEED 3-5 venti lattes a day.  We have about 2 dozen craft coffee places within walking distance (Our neighbourhood transitioned from downtown muticult to hipster a few years ago).  I prefer to go to the independents (usually nice Millennial couples) but gradually 22 of them have closed for the crisis – even though they’re still allowed to be open.  So now I’m down to Outpost which roasts its own beans (Yay for them!) and Tim Hortons (sigh).

9 a.m.  I sit down in my home office (which is only an easy chair and my lap and laptop), and open two laptops to my digital dashboard where I follow the world and communicate.

9 a.m. – 5 p.m.   In some order I:

  1. Check Google Calendar and see what calls, to-do’s, teleconferences, meetings, webinars, etc. are on
  2. Check e-mail (an integration of various Gmails, Outlook and U of Toronto) and prioritize responses.
  3. Check Twitter (a few of those)
  4. Check Facebook (personal and institutional)
  5. Check my RSS feeds.  I use Feedly to follow about 1,500 blogs and sites.  It’s a great tool that lets me save and read later or e-mail links to friends, family and colleagues.  Most of my feeds are professional but my eye washers are celebrity gossip trash feeds to relax (my dirty little secret).

The above takes about 30 minutes to start the day off informed.

The I mentally prioritize my work into buckets.  This is what works for me from home:

  1. Get rid of the easy stuff first. Respond, schedule, pay bills online, etc.  Make a call or two.
  2. Prepare for any meetings or web/teleconferences and participate as required.
  3. Do some writing and/or research.  There are always blog posts, client reports, responses to government initiatives, letters, etc.
  4. Do some social media.  If you only follow me on Facebook personally that is mainly for fun and a few professional links.  On my professional presences (websites and social media), I share things that I think are important for my communities, clients or members to know.
  5. Share links, images, humour, and advice for public libraries and maintaining / increasing relevance during this . . . opportunity.
  6. Check in on colleagues and friends to ensure they’re OK (and, also, I am an extreme extrovert so I really need the interaction too!).  Physical distancing does not mean being socially distant.

I find that my incredible team of association and agency leaders has been able to be very productive and we have influenced the government’s pandemic response and positioned public libraries well in those strategies.  We’re in constant communication with each other and key leaders in the province.  We also continue to respond to provincial ongoing policy consultations on the provincial budget, governance, broadband connectivity, keys bills in the legislature, anti-poverty strategies, social isolation, digital resources and e-book licensing, education, and employment – among other emerging policy areas.

Other client work has slowed down but I have a couple of reports to complete soon.  Every year I do a ton of community focus groups and F2F meetings with municipal leaders. Obviously, those are postponed.  That said, I am thinking that now is the time to start preparing for strategic and master planning.  Nothing is better than an engaged community and doing the upfront research and data collection, that doesn’t involve F2F, to underpin your plans.  Now is a great time to do a community online survey – especially when most of your residents are staying home and bored!

That doesn’t fill a day but, combined with Sage time, laundry, eating, dishes, tidying-up, and interruptions, it fills (over fills actually) the time.  I’m saving a little time (maybe money) by shaving less often, not doing any dry cleaning, eliminating travel to and from the office, etc. I’m trying to wear all machine washable clothes in my closets as a passive daily activity of what needs to be discarded to our donations bins. I am losing time washing hands, washing hands, washing hands, washing hands, moisturizing hands … . I am not a sports fan but I do miss all of my cancelled theatre subscriptions (plays (including Hamilton!), ballet, symphony), movie theatres, association events/conferences, dinners out, and visiting friends or having them here.  I am now the king of streaming at home in the evenings (we have Netflix, Crave, Amazon, Apple TV, etc.).

One last thing. I have a new hobby – With most of your family at home you have an all access pass to a lot of memories and you can set this up as a faimiy activity!

There you go.  Maybe TL:DR but it passed a few minutes on a Saturday morning.




Posted on: March 28, 2020, 10:01 am Category: Uncategorized

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