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How I Work: Stephen Abram

How I Work: Stephen Abram

December 1, 2015

Stephen Abram is a librarian and principal with Lighthouse Consulting Inc., and executive director of the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries. He blogs on library strategies for direction, marketing, technology and user alignment.

Location: Toronto, and airport lounges everywhere

Current Gig:

  • Principal, Lighthouse Consulting Inc.
  • Executive Director, Federation of Ontario Public Libraries
  • Sessional Lecturer, University of Toronto iSchool

One word that best describes how you work


Current mobile device

iPhone 5S

Current computer

Aging Sony VAIO Laptop due for replacement but everything is backed up on a little 2 terabyte portable drive for when WiFi access is spotty. I’m a PC guy and like all Apple products except their laptops. (Supplemented by an iPad, HP Laptop, and a desktop PC)

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?

For work: Chrome Browser, MS Word, PowerPoint, WordPress, Weebly, Dropbox, Gmail, TXT, and sometimes MS Excel. My Go-To app is my Starbucks app which supports my 3 venti lattés a day habit.

IRL: Candy Crush Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Candy Crush Soda

What’s your workspace setup like?

Which one? ;-)

4 workplaces:

  1. My most comfortable and preferred working space is a big easy chair where my  laptop (actually on my lap) plugs in on home WiFi beside a mobile phone next to a small table that holds my coffee.
  2. A home office with a laptop attached to a colour printer/scanner/copier multi-device.
  3. A workplace office with a decent landline, volume printer, copier, and desktop PC.
  4. Any travel terminal like an airport, train or bus station as well as WiFi’ing on the train or bus.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut?

Doing many things on my mobile phone and having all my files in the Dropbox cloud.

Filling in commuting time with professional reading (or Candy Crush when the subway is crowded).

What’s your favourite to-do list manager?

My inbox. I hate it when it gets over Inbox 40 and usually try to start Monday with Inbox 10. When it’s done (or delegated), it’s filed digitally in Gmail or Dropbox.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?

The Starbucks’ barista machines (And the fridge with the 2 liter Cokes and snacks).

Do you find yourself always working on something?

Yes – usually multiple threads of work at a time. I have multiple client projects and lesson planning mainly for the core work. I write articles (and book chapters) for fun and plan symposia for the iSchool to learn things I want to learn. Always working on an idea that’s ready to plant and water.

Or when you finish a project, do you take time to let your mind wander without concern for what’s next?

Not really. I invest my downtime in going to live theatre, movies and swimming at the Y. Sometimes I celebrate the end of a project by having a lunch with colleagues.

What do you listen to while you work?

Right now, Adele’s 25 or Sam Smith.

What are you currently reading?

My feeds mostly. I read 2-3 newspapers a day but mainly my news comes through Twitter and Facebook feeds. I relax with a weekly People magazine and read non-fiction related to work or teaching.

How do you recharge?

Swimming at the Y. Watching live plays. Going out with friends. Having dinner parties.

Working on charitable activities (we’re sponsoring a Syrian refugee family right now with our neighbours)

What’s your sleep routine like?

Sleep? I used to never sleep before 1 or 2 am. I used to be able to sleep in late. Now I am usually asleep before the 11 o’clock news ends and up just after 6 am.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Caution is the enemy of imagination.

Think from and acknowledge the other person’s perspective (but you don’t have to agree).

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