What did you say? Working Out Loud


Photo by Linnea Sandbakk available on Unsplash

I’ve been thinking for a while about blogging about my work, tweeting about what I do at work, and how much I should share or what people would be interested in. I think it’s probably something that a lot of people think/worry about – how much should I share? Is this private/confidential? What if it’s critical about something at work – should I mention the things that I’m not entirely comfortable with or that I think should be changed? But to balance all these (legitimate) concerns, it’s also really valuable to share your work and what you’re doing with folk, to generate other ideas and discuss your thinking with a wider community. I suppose maybe some of my more recent posts (like this one about Design Thinking and live-tweeting – which was for a workshop at work) fall into this category of sharing my work.

And then I came across this tweet:

And was introduced to the concept of Working Out Loud – see more of what it is in this graph here, and read this introductory blog post:

Working out loud

So basically, my understanding of it was that it was similar to what I was doing already, tweeting about what I was doing at work, thoughts about issues, articles, people that inspired me, blogging about those things, but being even more intentional about it – inviting others to contribute their opinions, organizing it in a way that is useful to others and to yourself, and maybe even taking it a bit further and setting up a WOL group of peer support, in your workplace or wider.

So what do you think about the concept? Do you already ‘work out loud’? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


I’m going on an adventure! #BlogJune

I'm going on an adventure

And it’s that time of year – Blog June has began again! You can find out more about it in this excellent blog post by Peta. Go and have a read, and sign up if you want – or just blog 🙂

Looking back at this blog, I haven’t blogged regularly over the last year or so – whoops 🙂 Things have changed a bit in my personal life, I got married, moved cities, and changed jobs (from a full-time tertiary librarian to a part-time health librarian), so quite a lot has happened that I could blog about. So I’m looking forward to using a bit of impetus from this #BlogJune movement to hopefully explore some topics that I’ve been pondering on for a while, but haven’t put into words (or blog posts). Things like:

  • Reflections on an Allied Health conference (first non-library conference I’ve attended!)
  • Reflections on the first Librarian Research Symposium (RLL1) – a rather excellent day of sharing research 🙂
  • Thoughts on literature reviews, curating, and filtering, and presenting the results in a digestible way – was quite struck by @sallyheroes post recently on this topic
  • Using Twitter & social media to discuss and promote research – something I’ve been passionate about for a while, but came across this article yesterday that stoked my enthusiasm again
  • And any other random things I come across, creativity, design thinking, interesting quotes or memes or gifs (aren’t gifs great?)


So go forth and blog for #BlogJune – looking forward to reading everyone’s posts!

Yes or no?: Making the hard work/life balance decisions

29/52 choice paralysis
Choice paralysis by Lauren McDonald via CC license on Flickr

“The problem, simply put, is that we cannot choose everything simultaneously. So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by indecision, terrified that every choice might be the wrong choice.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

I love this photo and quote put together by Lauren McDonald on her Flickr page. The photo perfectly illustrates how hard our choices can be sometimes; should I pick the red or the orange one? They all look so good – how do I know which one to pick? Why can’t I have all of them?

This post was inspired by Meredith Farkas’s post called “Leaning into the messy world of work-life balance” – please do take some time to go and read it; it is a lovely profound post that discusses the issues better than I could, but I am giving it a go anyway! 😀

Her post really resonated with me; particularly this paragraph which details the insatiable urge to say “yes” to every opportunity:

I’m not sure where this drive comes from. Part of it might be insecurity. I never quite feel like I’m doing enough or doing well enough. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I achieve; I never lose that feeling. How can I miss out on this opportunity? What might be the consequences of saying no? If I don’t do or see ___ now, I may never get the chance again. This constant craziness of always needing to do the most and get the most out of everything is exhausting. And what’s most frustrating is that all of this doing never seems to lead me to any real sense of accomplishment. Already, I’ve achieved more than I ever thought possible in my professional and personal life, but the bar just gets higher and higher.

So many posts for and by new professionals all encourage new professionals to say ‘yes’ to opportunities – they advise that the extracurricular activities look good on your CV, you prove that you are up for the challenge, you demonstrate your commitment to the profession, and these opportunities open new doors for your career. Posts like these:

All of these things are true – and I don’t think I have a problem saying ‘yes’ to these opportunities!

The problem I have is saying no.

Much like Farkas, I focused on looking at what I would miss out on by saying no. There were negative thoughts – I might never get this opportunity again; people might think less of me – and positive thoughts – this opportunity would be really good for my professional development; this would look great on my CV; this relates to X and Y which I am already doing. The problem is I was only looking at one side of the equation.

She goes on to say:

I used to say yes to way too many things, because I was always focused on what I’d lose by not doing it. Now, I’m focusing on what I give up by saying yes. By saying yes, there are other things I can’t do, like spending time with family and friends or engaging in hobbies, exercise, and sleep. I’ve spent way too much time at home sitting on my computer working when I could be having fun with my family or going for a walk in our recently beautiful weather. I don’t even remember where last summer went. So I’ve started to say “no” a lot more. And I’ve been surprised by how not-at-all guilty I feel about it. Sure, I’ve given up some cool opportunities, but I love what saying no means I’m saying yes to.

I *love* this perspective. Instead of looking at the negative side of saying ‘no’ to something, I could think about what I am saying ‘yes’ to.

I found some good resources on saying no:

I particularly like her explanation of William Ury’s principle for a positive no which is saying “Yes! No. Yes?”

You begin a no with saying yes to a positive choice: like spending more time with your family; having a bit of down time. You then say no to the request: “No, sorry I’m afraid I don’t have the time to be on that committee.” You then follow up with a proposition or compromise: “I’m sorry that I don’t have the time to commit to being a member on this committee, but I will be able to come to x number of meetings for consultation on this particular issue.” This way of constructing a no still leaves the door open with room for future collaboration or opportunities. It is not slamming a door, but rather sticking a “in a meeting” sign on the door.

Cruz notes the criteria we should consider when making a choice.

  • Does it support the vision and mission of my employer?
  • Will it take much time?
  • Will it stress me out?
  • Will it help me develop professionally?

She also notes the dilemma of the new professional very well:

At the beginning of a career or new job, it can be tempting to take on anything and everything. You’re excited and wanting to prove yourself. Lately, I’ve been hearing several of these coworkers say, “I’m learning to say no.” As we become more aware of what our responsibilities are and how quickly we are able to accomplish tasks, determining what we can fit in becomes easier.

So I think it is important to strike a balance between an enthusiastic “yes!” and a positive “no.” I think this new framework could help make these decisions easier and enable me to be intentional with what I choose to spend my time on. My mother always says: “It is better to just pick one thing and do it well than do a whole lot of things poorly.”

What are your criteria for these decisions?

How do you decide to say yes or no?

Whatever our choices are, they determine where we will go and what our next choices could be. They are part of the fabric of our lives.


Choices by WordShore via CC license on Flickr