I’m Jenny Levine, and This Is How I Work

(Format shamelessly stolen from LifeHacker)

Jenny Levine

Jenny Levine

Location: Chicago, IL
Current gig: Hey LITA members, I’M YOUR NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR!
One word that best describes how you work: Collaboratively
Current mobile device: Samsung Galaxy S6 (I love customizing the heck out of my phone so that it works really well for me) .
Current computer: At work, I have a standard HP desktop PC, but at home I use an Asus Zenbook.

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?
I’m constantly trying new tools and cobbling together new routines for optimal productivity, but right now my goto apps are LastPass for password management across all of my devices, PushBullet for sharing links and files across devices, and Zite for helping me find a wide selection of links to read.

Picture of my workspace

My workspace

What’s your workplace setup like?
At work, I love my adjustable standing desk. I wanted to paint my office walls with whiteboard paint, but that hasn’t worked out well for other ALA units so I’m looking forward to getting an 8’ x 4’ whiteboard. I like organizing my thoughts visually on big spaces. At home, I pretty much sit on the couch with my laptop.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?
Work-life balance is really important. You can’t be your best at home or work if you’re not getting what you need from both. Life really is too short to spend your time doing things you don’t want to do (some clichés are clichés for a reason).

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?
I’m constantly tinkering with new tools to find the ideal workflow, but I haven’t hit on the perfect one yet. Earlier this year I read “Work Simply” by Carson Tate, which explains the four productivity styles she’s identified. She then makes recommendations about workflows and tools based on your productivity style. Unfortunately, I came out equally across all four styles, which I think explains why some of the standard routines like Getting Things Done and Inbox Zero don’t work for me. Traditionally I’ve been a Post-It Notes type of person, but I’ve been trying to save trees by moving that workflow into Trello. It’s working well for me tracking projects long-term, but I just can’t seem to escape the paper Post-It Note with my “must do today” list, and now I’m learning to accept that thanks to Tate’s book. I’m also experimenting with WorkLife to manage meeting agendas.

Ella, the world’s greatest dog

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
I couldn’t do without my wireless headphones, because I listen to a lot of podcasts while I’m walking the world’s best dog, Ella. I also don’t feel right if I’m not wearing my Fitbit. Gotta get my 11,000 steps in each day.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?
At a macro level, I’m good at identifying trends and connecting them to libraries. At a more granular level, I’m really good at making connections between things and people so that they’re able to do, learn, share, and implement more together. These are things I’m really looking forward to doing for LITA. I want to meet all of our members so that I can connect them, learn from them, and help them do great things together.

What do you listen to while you work?
Almost anything. I subscribe to Rdio in part because you can easily see every single new album they add each week. I tend to browse that list and just listen to whichever ones have interesting cover art or names. When I really need to concentrate on something, I tend to go for classical music. I’m intrigued by Coffitivity.

What are you currently reading?
I recently finished a series of mind-blowing science fiction, “Blindsight” by Peter Watts followed by “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson. I loved them both (although I wish “Seveneves” had a proper ending), as well as the first two books of Cixin Liu’s Three-Body trilogy (I’m anxiously awaiting the translation of the third book). I also just finished “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande, which I recommend everyone read.

After reading all of these, though, I’m ready to curl up in the corner now and wait for the end of humanity. I may need to read a Little Golden book next, but I just started “Ancillary Mercy” by Ann Leckie.

How do you recharge?
In general, walking the dog is my zen time, but I’m also prone to watching tv. I don’t have email notifications set up on my computers, phones, or tablet, and I’m very deliberate about how I use technology so that I feel a sense of control over it. I’ve also learned that at least once a year I have to go on vacation and completely unplug to restore some of that balance. I love technology, but I also love doing without it sometimes.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
When I graduated from my college, I didn’t want to go into the field I’d majored in (broadcast news), so I was trying to figure out what to do with my life instead. I had a little money from one of my grandmothers, so I decided to open a bookstore because I had loved working in one in high school. My Mom sat me down and told me about this place called “Border’s Bookstore” that was opening down the street and why I wouldn’t be opening my own bookstore. Instead, she suggested I go to library school. Best advice ever.

I’m passionate about….
Accessibility, collaboration, inclusivity, diversity, efficiency, transparency, communication. Everything can be improved, and we can build new things – how do we do that together? If we could build a 21st century organization from scratch, how would it be different? These are all areas I want to work on within LITA.

The future’s so bright…
I’m excited to be the new Executive Director of LITA, especially this week because it’s LITA Forum time (sing that to yourself in your best MC Hammer voice). I can’t believe it, but this will be my first ever LITA Forum, so in addition to being really happy I’m also kind of nervous. If you see me at Forum, please wave, say hi, or even better tell me what your vision is for LITA.

If you won’t be at Forum, I’d still love to hear from you. I went for the Director job because I believe that LITA has a bright future ahead and a lot of important work to do. We need to get going on changing the world, so share your thoughts and join in. There are a lot of places you can find LITA, but you can also contact me pretty much anywhere: email (jlevine at ala dot org), Facebook, Hangouts (shiftedlibrarian), Snapchat (shiftedlib), and Twitter for starters.