Control the Controllables & Making Systemic Changes for Better Work/Life Balance

I’m participating in the Next Level Library Leadership Institute (NLLLI) with a fantastic group of folks. We’re following almost a graduate seminar course, where we’re sharing readings (and working with coaches and other supports), so it’s a very cool format. One thing from today’s meeting is the idea of “controlling the controlables” as a way to frame problems/needs, to break down into what can be done, to be able to get to solutions. My normal language for this would be things like “solutions oriented” which we use so often in tech, and the serenity prayer, which is ever-present in my life with family members in recovery. Both of these frames are useful in understanding what things need to be controlled to enable work/life balance. Many resources on work/life balance focus on the individual: learning time blocking, learning time management, learning to say no. These are important, but they are not enough. Systemic change is required. I am grateful that our NLLLI group discussed how we can control our own work, and also how we can control/shape the overall workplace to best support everyone.

In the Digital Partnerships & Strategies Department, we’ve been discussing exactly this: how we can have better community/overall supports for controlling work, to prevent overload and overwhelm. This is a really important conversation, so we’re going to focus our annual strategic planning retreat on it. Our team already has great time management, which we will of course discuss improving, and we will also focus on informing systemic changes, because this is a community problem and so can’t be solved at the individual level.  We’ll be doing scenario planning, ideas for implementation, areas for investigation/review, and more to enable a better work/life balance as part of planning for a better workplace and work experience. To prepare for the strategic planning retreat, I am excited that I will be reading more on this and hopefully will soon be discussing this with more folks! I would love to hear from folks on how library/academic/IT leaders are implementing systemic changes to protect people’s time for work/life balance (or integration, interfacing, or whatever we’re calling it). I will have more to share on this soon!