Sunday, May 6, 2018

How to schedule

Where I work, at a largish library, we are scheduled throughout the day on an hourly basis. This is a ticklish business. Scheduling is too important and too big a job for anyone but a manager to do. It's practically a full time job, unless there's no manager around, in which case some random clerk will fix up the schedule, which usually takes a minute or two, but only because they drag it out to feel important.

I have never been in charge of the schedule. But I have patched it, and, more importantly I have spent decades being its victim and beneficiary. This has taught me a few things. Hopefully enough to teach you all our important rules on...

How To Schedule

version 7.28

1. If someone is really good at some job in particular make sure that they are never there more than anyone else as that would be undemocratic.

2. If someone has a hard time, for any reason, with any particular job, make sure to assign them there regularly to prove that you're on to their tricks.

3. Don't assign people who like each other together as they'll just natter on and get along and stuff.

4. Regularly schedule one person in two places at the same time. This will convince everyone that scheduling is a hard, complicated, and dicey procedure.

5. Give people an absolute minimum of time for their projects, unless they look busy and unhealthily obsessed with them, at which point you should assign them to it practically all the time.

6. Don't adjust staffing and job assignments according to workflow and how busy things are. You are already forced to spend way too much time on scheduling to micromanage at that level!

7. When a particularly difficult hole in the schedule comes up or is pointed out to you always plug yourself into the hole like you're a martyr saving the day. Then, instead of doing that job, let everyone cover for you while you go into your office to work on the schedule.

8. Remember: It's not a schedule, it's a reflection of how you feel about everyone.

9. Try not to sweat it too much. No matter what you do there's always going to be some disgruntled wiseacre posting a satirical list of your tiny scheduling shortcomings on the Internet.


  1. I worked at a not-so-largish library for about 8 years. For the first six or so of those years, scheduling seemed to be rather broad and relaxed. We'd negotiate breaks and lunch, and we could work largish blocks of time on things we enjoyed...because we could negotiate among ourselves.

    Then we changed to the methods you describe.

    And then I left.

    1. A sad story that makes me happy in that it confirms all the things I suspect.


If you were wondering, yes, you should comment. Not only does it remind me that I must write in intelligible English because someone is actually reading what I write, but it is also a pleasure for me since I am interested in anything you have to say.

I respond to pretty much every comment. It's like a free personalized blog post!

One last detail: If you are commenting on a post more than two weeks old I have to go in and approve it. It's sort of a spam protection device. Also, rarely, a comment will go to spam on its own. Give either of those a day or two and your comment will show up on the blog.