Managing Time and Opportunity: The FLiP Book Club

June 4, 2024

Stephen Goff, a process engineer with PolyQuest, is a member of the Plastics Industry Association’s (PLASTICS) Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) initiative, which capturred his interest through the professional development opportunities offered, especially the FLiP Book Club.

“It seemed like an interesting way to reach out and network with likeminded professionals wanting to advance their careers and learn better life skills,” Stephen explained. “I did three book clubs last year, which led to me join the Continuing Education Task Group. I think each day you learn something new is a great day.”

As a member of the task group, Stephen became part of the team that selects material for the book club, which includes videos such as TED Talks to accommodate different learning styles among members. The club covers two books and two videos per year.

Taking advantage of an opportunity

In October of 2023, there was a slot open to host the FLiP Book Club’s discussion covering the subject of time management. “No one had signed up to lead that one, so I figured I’d try my hand at leading a discussion. Even if it went poorly, it would be a valuable learning experience,” Stephen said. “One of the most intriguing things about FLiP is the chance to try things you might not ordinarily try.”

In this case, the new experience for Stephen was leading a meeting for a group of people he didn’t work with every day. Everything went very well as participants discussed a TED Talk by Dorie Clark: The Real Reason You Feel So Busy (and What to Do About It). Clark is a widely recognized communication coach and expert on leadership.

According to Stephen, Clark’s perspectives on the sources of unproductive busyness sparked a vibrant conversation, but not in the way one might expect. “I think the discussion was more valuable than the initial talk, which was very basic, but led us into a broader comparison of our real-world experiences,” he said. “That’s where I definitely see the value of the book club.”

Seeking and finding relevance

While the group was intrigued by Clark’s focus on the negative aspects of busyness (e.g., touting a busy schedule as a status symbol, to avoid dealing with hard decisions, or to numb oneself in the face of personal pain) the group’s reaction to the content took them in another direction.

“I know I was disappointed,” Stephen said, “and I imagine other people were too, as the talk was called ‘The Real Reason You Feel So Busy (and What to Do About It)’ but didn’t actually offer advice on things like time management and task evaluation. That’s what I was expecting to hear about.”

Faced with different information than they were expecting, the future leaders of the FLiP Book Club still took the conversation where they needed it to go. Stephen described it as, “Discussing what to do about busyness with other professionals who share common experiences working in similar environments.” For instance, the group came up with some questions to ask if one finds themselves working late every day:

  • Am I communicating clearly with management about workload?
  • Am I wasting time by trying to “look busy” instead of being genuinely productive?
  • Am I extending the workday unnecessarily (e.g., is any personal online activity adding hours to the day?)

While the FLiP Book Club group may have taken an unexpected turn, Clark might say the talk accomplished an important goal of getting people to think about the subject and be proactive about taking on the reality of unproductive busyness.

PLASTICS and the Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) Committee are devoted to supporting and encouraging the next generation of plastics leaders who will play a crucial role in the innovation, technology and future of the plastics industry. FLiP’s mission is to provide young professionals under the age of 40 the exposure, education and resources they need to build lifelong careers in plastics. Want to join? Want to get your employees involved?  Email: [email protected]