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Thinking about time

  • Do you find yourself with too much free time to devote to your family, hobbies, or charity work?
  • Do you feel like you’re wasting time reading books, taking walks, or working on a Master’s Degree?
  • Is your mind so demented that you believe people want to read your every waking thought?
  • Do you want to come home from a full-time job and then work some more? ...

If you answered YES to all 4, Congratulations... you have what it takes to blog. And it is quite possible that you are a moron, slightly creepy, and in a word… breathtakingly odd (sorry, two words… and there is no chance I want to ever meet you in person). from The PrincipalsPage blog

One of my favorite quotes come from Annie Dillard who writes, "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." Seems like quite a number of bloggers have been reflecting lately on how best to spend their time.

So how we spend our days is how we spend our lives, eh, Annie? I've been thinking a lot lately about how I use my writing time. In an old column on time management  I once asked:

Is this a job that will have a long-term effect?... too often, the minutia of the job pin us down, like Gulliver trapped by the Lilliputians, and we make small progress toward major accomplishments. Remind yourself that that the big projects you work on often have more impact on your students and staff than the little attentions paid to them. Spend at least one part of everyday on the big stuff.

Am I following my own advice? You have to know that I have about 6 primo hours of writing time each week - Saturday and Sunday mornings. It's the only time my brain really works well enough to think very hard about things. (I suppose that is why I can blog any old time...)

Which leads me to ask which sort of writing has the potentential of making the greatest contribution to one's profession - books, articles or blog posts? I'm leaning toward the first. The first of my poor, sad books has not been revised for a dozen years.

I can't stop blogging - too much fun and too addictive. I like writing articles and columns, and it is still a thrill after all these years to see one's name in print.

But this year I am revising at least one book.

Hold me to it!

(Calvin and Hobbes cartoon found at

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Reader Comments (5)

I'm right there with you. Books are number one, though I would almost put good timely blog posts #2. (Especially ones, like yours, that often link to articles!) I cut my feed reader back to around a hundred or less. Axed Facebook. Focusing on the good stuff. Plus being in grad school tightens up the time. I recently read a book by Mark Forster on time management that has really clicked with me an seems to be helping. I know my blogging has suffered, but hate to give it up. I keep hoping enough readers will stick around for when I'm out of grad school, but maybe I should give that up too and revive it when I'm done. Constant challenge, eh?

January 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterteacherninja

Hi Doug,
Sorry for the meltdown yesterday and grateful that you still have faith in me. I deleted several posts and hopefully won't do that again. You are the master of harvesting relevant themes from current blog sites!

January 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPaul C.

It depends. I'd like to say books, but I suspect some of my ejournal issues and essays will have at least as long-lasting effects as any of my books. (On the other hand, I would never EVER suggest anybody emulate my founding of an ejournal. Never. Sharpen that stake and aim for the heart.)

So, yes, in general, a good book should have more long-term effect than most any article--and a lot more lasting impact than a blog post.

January 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwalt crawford


A "long term effect" to me means something that will still be around a couple generations from now.
For example - your grandchildren's generation will still be able to read the book you wrote, but SO WHAT?

More important than the long term effect IMHO (especially considering how quickly book ideas become dated - is the wide spread immediate effect.

You asked "which sort of writing has the potential of making the greatest contribution to one's profession - books, articles or blog posts?" and then you said, "I'm leaning toward the first."

WHY do you think a book makes the greatest contribution to your profession? Here's why I don't think it does.
A) Lots of people can't afford to buy a book and read it, but most people can afford to read a blog so with a book you have a limited audience.
B) Some people don't want to read a book, but will read a blog (shorter time committment)
C) You probably have NO idea how many lurkers you've influenced with our blog posts, and you never will know! Those readers link or point others to your words, and they tell two friends and so on and so on. Lots of people don't pass on books in the same fashion because they're too cheap and want to keep the book for themselves even if it wasn't that great.

A carefully crafted, established blog contributes immeasurably to our profession. It is a noble gesture to share a piece of yourself so publicly with people who often will give you nothing in return - no money, no fame, and sadly, often not even any thanks or praise. So... since you asked - I think your blog is an extremely valuable and generous use of time; precious as it is.
We've never met - probably never will, but I read your words of wisdom, your ideas, your suggestions, and your occasional rants, and feel like I have a mentor sharing a journey with me. I do NOT get the same feeling when I read a book written by a fellow librarian. I do not get the same feeling when I read everyones blogs - the ones that are not worth my time or the ones that I'm not developmentally ready for, have been deleted from my feedreader. At a workshop I ran for fellow librarians, you blog was one of the first that I introduced them to... and it was MUCH more exciting that just holding up a book and writing down the title!!!
So.... I'm offically casting my vote for blogs as the more significant contributor to our profession. I own a TON of professional books, but most of what I've learned and remembered and used and discussed and shared, came from blogs not books! (And I do love and buy books, just in case I needed to make that clear!)

January 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJR

Hi Ninja,

Sort of good to know others are cutting back as well. I am getting a little more into Facebook.


Hi Paul,

No apologies necessary. Must be something in the air. I am just about ready to strike out for warmer climes and a whole new occupation! Maybe there is a correlation between the amount of gas my snowblower uses and my satisfaction with life...


Hi Walt,

I appreciate your judgment here since you’ve been one of the people who has had a huge impact on my professional views. And it is mostly because of your books!

Do read the comment following yours on this post, though. Quite an interesting argument for the impact of blogging.

All the very best,


Hi Janice,

Wow what a great and interesting comment. May I get your permission to make this a “guest” blog post? I think many readers would be interested and react to what you say.

Thanks for considering this,


January 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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