Posted in AALL

Conference FOMO? How to Embrace What You Learned at AALL without Getting Overwhelmed by It

Well, it’s been several years now since I blogged here, but I’m bringing it back! I got a little busy, and the blog took a backseat, but for many reasons, I feel like I’m in a good place to bring it back to life, so here’s day one!

My renewed desire to blog was inspired in part by a session I attended at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) a couple of weeks ago (Just Write It: Embracing Your Inner Author). That meeting also inspired the subject of today’s post: FOMO – the fear of missing out.

I love continuing education. I love attending conferences and CLE presentations and getting inspired to make a large number of changes to my work life when I return home, whether that’s implementing a new tool, updating how I teach, or changing my workflow to be more productive. But lately I feel like another sensation rivals my excitement at conferences: FOMO. I hear about all these amazing things that other libraries and librarians are doing, and I start to feel… inadequate. Why does my library not do that? Are we falling behind the curve? Are we failing to adequately serve our patrons? Do we need to completely change our operational procedures?

As you likely know, FOMO is a term (or, really, acronym) inspired by the anxiety that social media can bring on, when you start comparing your life to others’ based on what people are posting about their own families/vacations/purchases/etc. I would argue (based on my own experiences) that conference FOMO can generate similar anxiety about work.

So what do you do? Stop going to conferences? No way! There’s a lot to be learned at conferences, and learning from your peers can help you make needed changes that will increase the value of your library’s services to your patrons. What we need to focus on is the inspiration conferences generate, while not allowing all that inspiration to overwhelm us.

My advice: focus on one or two small changes you’d like to bring to your library in the short-term, and place others on a longer-term to do list. That, at least, is my plan. I chose two small things I can focus on in my personal work this year, and one thing I’d like to try in my department. One of those small changes? Start blogging again! (Check) Another? Start getting to work an hour early (h/t Jamie Baker) to blog or work on other writing projects. Not everyone has that luxury, but it’s an easy adjustment for me. Today was my first day implementing that change as well. (Check) It’s 8:57, and my first blog post is almost done. And guess what? It’s very quiet at my library an hour before reference opens! This has been a very productive hour for me! I know it’s only day one, but by focusing on just a couple of initiatives I was fired up about at AALL this year, I (so far) feel inspired, rather than anxious. No mo’ FOMO!