Book Review: People Fuel by Dr. John Townsend

I have long been a fan of Dr. John Townsend with my first exposure being his earliest collaborations with Dr. Henry Cloud. As well as being a New York Times Best Selling author and highly respected psychologist, Dr. Townsend is also the founder of the Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling.

Many readers will be very familiar with his blockbuster hit (over 3 million copies sold!), Boundaries, co-authored with Dr. Cloud, which has since spun off into various other Boundaries In… type books.  I also loved their later followup, Safe People.  Now Dr. Townsend is back with a new book focused on helping leaders most effectively utilize one of their most valuable resources — the people around them. While his primary focus may initially appear to be church leaders or those leading nonprofit organizations, I think there is valuable content applicable to all organizational leaders today.

People Fuel: Fill Your Tank for Life, Love and Leadership is a practical, relaxed read with a myriad of stories and clinical advice to help professionals recognize and leverage the value that relationships bring to the successful leader.  “People are the fuel we need to grow, be healthy and prosper,” Townsend explains.  “… we need to know what we need, recognize who can supply it, and have the skills to get it.”  He explains that leaders can contribute to greater energy in the workplace, or can drain the energy of those around us.  His Four Quadrants of Relational Nutrients helps organize the characteristics leaders can use to help fortify their workers in ways similar to that of vitamins for physical vitality. (See the interview clip below for his discussion of this.)

These same nutrients that the best leaders provide to their employees are nutrients that they need themselves in order to not become drained and burned out in their roles. In Part 3 of his book, Townsend turns the focus to seven commons types of people who can help provide the vital relational nutrients to leaders: Coaches, Comrades, Casuals, Colleagues, Care, Chronics and Contaminants. (Hint:  The last two categories are more groups to watch out for!)

Summing up:  Whether we  have formal leadership roles in our organizations, all of us have leadership aspects in the various roles of our daily life. Dr. Townsend offers valuable guidance in the area of relationships and the vital part they play on our inner health and outward effectiveness.  I loved his book.  I hope you do too.

Links Roundup #46: Academic uses of Trello, and Top Tools 2019 survey call

saddle and rope💡 I wondered who was talking about Trello’s use for Academics (and librarians, of course).  Here are a few discussions I came across worth sharing:

  1. Paperpile did a nice case study blog post on using Trello for research in Trello for Research: 3 Powerful Use Cases. 

2. Cathy Mazak did a great post back in March discussing Three Popular Academic Project   Management Tools.  In it she not only reviews Trello, but also Basecamp and Asana.  On her site she also offers free Trello Templates for organizing Academic Writing Projects.

3. Two of my co-workers (Li Chin and Xueying Chen) did a lovely article a year or so ago for Computers in Libraries on How to Manage Library Projects with Trello.  Here is the citation to their excellent article:

LI CHEN, & XUEYING CHEN. (2017). How to Manage Library Projects With Trello. Computers in Libraries37(4), 19–23.

4. A related article in the open access journal Open Information Science explored how two different libraries, both striving to manage their Electronic Resources, used two different Kanban tools to achieve their purposes: Trello and KanbanFlow.   Here is the citation to their fascinating article:

McLean Jaclyn, & Canham Robin. (2018). Managing the Electronic Resources Lifecycle with Kanban. Open Information Science, (1), 34.

5. Newsweek’s Best Business Tools 2019.  This listing was compiled from an extensive questionnaire covering 54 business software and software services categories.  More than 10,000 professional users chimed in.  What is most interesting is the “Gen Z” best picks.  The survey amassed over 1500 Gen Z respondents (born 1995 or later) and in the Administration & Organization category, the Gen Z pick was none other than Trello!

6. TIP-Topics for Students Top Tech: The Best Technology for
Graduate School, as Rated by Graduate Students is another interesting article for 2019 where several tech-savvy graduate students highlight the most useful technology for graduate school.  Making the list as most helpful are calendaring tools (Google Calendar), file hosting – cloud based (Dropbox and Google drive), web-based to-do apps (a whole laundry list here), reference management (Endnote, Mendeley, etc) and project management tools (Slack, Trello, etc).  Also discussed were tools students used to stay informed and for communication.  The whole article can be located here:

Gisler, S., Gray, B., Roman, J.-L., & Rothstein, E. (2019). TIP-Topics for Students Top Tech: The Best Technology for Graduate School, as Rated by Graduate Students. TIP: The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist57(1), 1–5.

Top Tools for 2019!  Vote Now

And Finally, Jane Hart’s Top Tools for Learning has launched their their annual survey of your top productivity tools for 2019.  The survey is open until September 13, so vote to make sure your favorite tools are represented.

Meeting Overload?

Feeling Swallowed by Meetings?  You aren’t alone! Sometimes Academia seems particularly prone to this malady, so I shot down a rabbit hole on Google to see what insights I might be able to find for us all.

I found this helpful (and whimiscal) workflow for deciding on whether or not to schedule another meeting from Harold Jarche’s blog post in May:

The Atlassian article that he is quoting from (Running effective meetings) had several interesting points. They state:

An effective meeting brings a thoughtfully selected group of people together for a specific purpose, provides a forum for open discussion, and delivers a tangible result: a decision, a plan, a list of great ideas to pursue, a shared understanding of the work ahead. 

So meetings need the right people, an atmosphere of open discussion, and result in a tangible result. Consider whether you have diverse perspectives and individuals with complementary knowledge who can enrich the discussion and problem solving. Get buy-in from meeting members that they will be actively involved in the meeting. In our monthly team meetings, for example, all electronic devices (except for the secretary taking minutes) are banned.  And finally, end with an action plan, decision, or next steps, complete with dates and deliverables so everyone knows where things stand.

DMCS Book Cover 450px.jpg

Another resource you might want to peruse on the topic of effective meetings is a 2017 book by Dr. Rick Brinkman. Dealing with Meetings You Can’t Stand: Meet Less and Do More. It offers an empathetic and humorous view of this office-place time-stealer and provides a number of ideas and techniques to make meetings more effective and more tolerable. In addition to tips, real-life case studies are included to show how meetings can actually work successfully. The author also offers some extras on his website. He recorded a lengthy and quite informative interview with his publisher on YouTube:

I’d love to explore on this topic some more, but I have a meeting to attend. 😉

Book Review: The INFJ Writer by Lauren Sapala

Book Cover of INFJ Writer

Lauren Sapala is a writing coach who began to realize that a number of her clients, like herself, had Myers-Brigg Temperment Types of INFJ or INFP.  In this motivational book, she outlines what she discovered about the writing process that intuitive-feeling (NF) types frequently experience.

So what distinguishes (NF) types?  Authors Keirsey and Bates (Please Understand Me: Charater & Temperament Types, Prometheus Nemsis Books, 1984) says NF’s are only about 12% of the population, yet they make up the majority of writers of literature and journalists. This, in part, is due to their need to express and explore their sense of self. “Always becoming himself, the NF can never truly be himself, since the very act of reaching for the self immediately puts it out of reach.” (p 58-59, Keirsey and Bates)  Indeed, the NF’s battle cry seems to be: Be Real.  Be Authentic. Be Meaningful. (Ibid, 64)

I have to start with a disclaimer here.  This is not a book about how to write.  It doesn’t discuss techniques or writing styles.  This book addresses the internal blocks that NF types might be experiencing with their writing and how they might be able to move forward through and past said blocks. Sapala includes exercises to combat negative self-talk, gratitude exercises to help unblock creative energies, and visualization exercises to name only a few. She explores in depth the inner motivations and struggles of the NF writer  including perfectionism, toxic relationships to people or substances and the need for healthy boundaries, workaholic tendencies, and energy drains and energy motivators and from where healthy motivation springs.  While the book focuses on the INFJ writer, the author includes chapters at the end for other NF types as well.  If applying the Myers Briggs temperament types to other areas of interest in your life is intriguing to you and you enjoy exploring the “why you do what you do or think how you think”, you might enjoy Sapala’s exploration of the INFJ Writer.  Just don’t stop progressing on your writing projects in order to read it. 😉

More Resources for Librarian – Writers :

While not a new article, the folks at Academic Librarian has a nice summary of several articles focused on librarians as writers in their post: On Librarians Writing.

Wendy Laura Belcher has come out with a second edition of her excellent text, Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks.  We have used Belcher’s book as one of our base texts for our Library Faculty Writing Group for the past two iterations. The new edition has three new chapters. According to the author, “there is a new chapter on using the workbook to write an article from scratch as well as updated research on faculty productivity and scholarly writing, new timelines and more targeted exercises and checklists.”  She is planning to revive her micronewsletter focusing on overcoming writing obstacles, so check out her website for that.

Links Roundup #45: Deep Concentration, Fixed Schedule Productivity and Home Book Cataloging

saddle and ropeDr. Robert Talbert of Grand Valley State University shares this post about Fixed schedule productivity in his blog.  The idea of “laser-like focus” for one’s working hours and compartmentalizing work from private life is not new, but the practical example of establishing boundaries so that we aren’t working 24-7 is a good reminder for us all.

I’m late to this party, but have you seen the great list of 2018 Best Apps for Teaching & Learning compiled by AASL (American Assoication of School Librarians)?  While focused for K-12 librarians, I thought there were some useful ideas for easy to make games that might work for icebreakers or interactive moments in library instruction.  Kudos to AASL!

Book Riot recently published a list 8 Home Library Apps to Keep Your Book Collection Organized.  While long time favorites Book Reads and Library Thing are represented, there were a few new to me options here as well. And who among us doesn’t long to catalog our home book collections, lol.

The Beyond the To-Do List podcast recently interviewed Mike Strum, the author of the new book Be Think Do.  Mike is also the author of the newsletter Woolgathering.  It is a great conversation on these basic elements of any productivity philosophy.

If you enjoyed the above podcast, you might also enjoy Mike Strum’s article “Harnessing the Power of Deep Concentration“.  Some helpful discussion here about the value of single tracking instead of trying to multitask.

Are you married to your moleskin notebook?  If so, you might be excited to hear about their latest enhancement / collaboration with Dropbox.  Just as you can interact with Evernote and their Page Camera and Moleskin, now you can utilize Dropbox to enhance your group projects.  Check out the details here.

New Player in the Notetaking Game:  Have you heard of Notion?  I haven’t tried it yet, but the gurus over at Guiding Tech have done in depth comparisons between Notion and OneNote and Notion and Evernote worth taking a look at if you are shopping for a notetaking software. Tip:  Notion has created a convenient “import from evernote” tool. But even sight unseen, I suggest anyone considering switching from their current notetaking tool take some time to try out the alternative tools and get use to their strengths and weaknesses before committing.

Getting Things Done Redux

Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen is a classic book in the productivity world.  We’ve talked about the concepts of this method several times on this blog, and focused one of our Productivity Year sessions (session 4 to be exact) exclusively on it. So I was under the false impression that GTD was old news and that everyone was familiar with its concepts.

Just how misinformed I was became very clear when I attended a webinar on productivity recently with a number of the newer librarians on staff.  The webinar was focused on David Allen’s method and 3/4 of the room admitted that they had never heard of his book. This made it clear to me that this blog was long overdue for a refresher post on the Getting Things Done concept.

In a nutshell, GTD is a productivity method that allows the individual who religiously follows its precepts to gain control of one’s life and one’s to-do list and inbox.  Rather than rehash his whole schema here, I’d like to give you an updated list of places on the web where you can dive into the GTD world on your own.

  1. After reading our blog entry linked above, I would like to selfishly point you to the GTD page from my LibGuide on Productivity Tools for Graduate Students. It includes a 45 minute presentation by David Allen himself on the GTD process, as well as links to several other sources.
  2. Robert Talbert has a 26 post collection on his use of GTD.  Robert is a Mathematics professor and use to have a column (Casting Out Nines) on the Chronicle of Higher Learning.
  3. Getting Things Done Website:  Free Resources from David Allen

4. Nine Best GTD Apps:  Software for Getting Things Done.  Most options have limited free and Pro plans.

5. Mark Zobel (PhD who focuses on Alumni/Development work) has a series of blog posts on how he implements GTD.

6. For you Trello users out there, Jill Duffy posted on how to use Trello to GTD.

7. And I can’t forget our Evernote Users:  Getting Started with GTD Templates in Evernote

8. Todd Vasquez’s Ready Set Do blog is particularly interesting to me.  He doesn’t pull any punches on how Academic work does not completely lend itself to David Allen’s method.  However he does explore a lot of great ideas on Workflows on a MAC.

9. Love your Bullet Journal?  Tim Maurer has you covered with his GTD method post “My Complete 10-step Bullet Journal Productivity System“.

10.  And Finally, if I haven’t given you enough to read on GTD, has compiled a Massive GTD Resource List for your browsing pleasure.  Enjoy!