Professor Destressor eNews |
Combining productive work lives and balanced personal lives
Our goal is to bring you news, insights, and information about leading a balanced and productive life while making a difference.
In this issue, you'll find:
- Working from Power - Part II
- Professor Destressor coaching
- Up and coming workshops
1. Working from Power - Part II
Sasha, a biology professor at an eastern US liberal arts
college wrote me after reading the Winter issue on ?Working
from Power.? She said, ?Ok, I?ve constructed my Pyramid of
Power by writing my Purpose, Mission and Vision statements.
I wrote 50-100 life goals on small sticky notes and sorted
them into categories of goals that seemed to go together.
Then I parked them on colored paper, one color to each
category. I also used your '4 times 3 to-do list' and
I?m getting a lot more done. Now I?m ready for the next
steps. You have to write faster and send me the next
installment of the Professor Destressor eNews.?
I offered to meet with Sasha to give her a preview of the
next two tools to help work from power, the Dream Book and
the Tracking System.
The Dream Book is a planning tool for generating and
managing all the wonderful ideas, professional and
personal, that you would like to explore in your lifetime.
The Tracking System is a way of keeping track of all your
current and future projects at home and at work so that
you can see at a glance if you are overcommitted,
procrastinating, or completing your work in a timely
fashion. (In case you missed the Winter issue of the
Professor Destressor eNews, here?s the link:
Dream a Little Dream & Connect the Dots
Just because you have generated a lot of goals, you?re
not finished. You should still keep generating and
gathering goals. Every time you have a thought about
something you want to do like, ?we should get that chair
reupholstered,? write it on a sticky note and put with
the others related to the ?Home? category on colored
pages, say, yellow. If you have a thought about a
professional goal like, ?I should write an article
refuting Ken Wilber?s claim that all fields of knowledge
are connected,? write it on a sticky, put it in the
?Research? category on, say, blue pages. Writing down
these dreams and goals does not commit you to doing any
of them. At this stage, the more stickies, the better.
Later you can throw out those you don?t feel drawn to
or you can park them in an undecided pile of stickies
on colored paper.
Now you need a way to manage all of your goals so let?s
put together your Dream Book. (About 1/6 of participants
in my audiences prefer a Dream Wall in which they park
all of their goals. All of the following suggestions
can be translated from books and walls into electronic
You need the following equipment:
- 8 ½ x 11 three ring notebook;
- several sheets each of 6-8 colors of 8 ½ x 11 copy
paper and several pages of plain white paper;
- (optional) notebook dividers;
- (optional) plastic sleeves for overhead
Or poster board for your wall, enough to hold many
Follow these steps:
- Three hole punch the white and colored paper and
put the white paper into the front of the binder in
Page 1 - Purpose statement in large font - maybe in
Page 2 - Mission statement
Page 3 - Table of Contents. Use the 6-8 Vision
statements as chapter headings. You can write
or type these.
Here is the beginning of Sasha?s table of contents:
Chapter 1 - Home: My home is clean, organized and
aesthetically pleasing and supports me, my
spirit, and my work.
Chapter 2 - Hobbies: I learn, practice, and perform
music with my flute in order to stay relaxed
and refreshed for my work.
Chapter 3 - Scholarly work: I develop creative ideas
for research and submit three articles for
peer reviewed journals a year, four conference
presentations/poster sessions a year with my
students, and author, edit, or co-author one
book every five years.
- Add the colored paper.
Following your table of contents insert the hole
punched colored pages and organize them in the order
of the chapter titles or Vision statements. Pages
can be oriented portrait with the stickies facing you
as you flip open a page, or lined up sideways into
landscape so you can read them if you turn the
notebook sideways. You can use section dividers or
just punch holes in the colored sheets. For example
if you use purple for your Vision statement, ?I stay
in contact with my family and friends sharing joy,
supporting each other, and connected around mutual
activities? put several purple pages into the book
and have separate pages for goals related to
families, friends and your activities with them.
Your Home section will be on different colored
paper with a section for each room or a section for
Maintenance, one for Redecorating, etc. There may
be some logical way to group the goals perhaps by
subcategories. For example, in the Friends and
Family section, there might be a page of goals
related to each family unit or perhaps to each
person. You might have a separate page for each
Sasha used pink pages for the ?teaching? category
represented by her vision statement: ?My classes
are well-prepared, interesting, creative, and
collegial in their atmosphere.? On these pages she
parked all of her goals related to teaching. She
had a page for goals for developing interesting
material, one for creating learning activities,
and another for promoting a collegial class
atmosphere through warm-up and team building
As you park the sticky notes on these pages,
double check to see if all the stickies you like
fit somewhere under the overarching statements.
If they don?t, park them in a ?miscellaneous? or
?later? location. Double check the Vision
category statements to describe the main themes
that encompass all the stickies within the
How do you know that you have the right
categories? There are no right categories
just a good enough system to get started. You
are looking for categories that organize the
complexity that represents you and your life.
If you choose the category ?work? you may
have sub-categories and park the goals on
separate pages for teaching, research, service,
or other aspects of your work.
In addition to her teaching sub-categories Sasha
had these goals for her teaching: (See if you
can figure out where she would park them.)
- Give students ungraded before/after tests on
key course concepts when the course
starts and end.
- Analyze the differences in the concepts pre/post.
- Outline an article to be submitted to
She put them on a pink page called, ?teaching
scholarship? because she hoped to start some
research on her teaching effectiveness that might
be publishable. Since these goals are part of
Sasha?s research plans, they could also be moved
to her research pages and parked under a
sub-category, ?SoTL (scholarship of
teaching and learning) Research.? Whatever works
for you is the right category system.
Another way to organize some sections is by
time, the first purple page containing very
immediate goals, the next mid-range goals and the
third long range goals. You do not have to use
the same organizational system in every section.
- Use the Dream Book as a parking garage for
What if you aren'?t currently doing the goals
under that Vision statement or interested in
doing them because it is not the right time
in your life to start on that goal? For now that?s
quite ok; you can decide later what categories
are priorities for working on now and what
specific goals are ones to which you would like
to commit. However, always state the Vision in
present tense even though it is not presently
true. It compels you forward and perks up an
area in your brain known as the Reticular
Activating System (RAS). The RAS scans for
stimulation that helped your cave ancestors
stay safe and advance their goals. The RAS
helps you meet your goals. Once you write
your Vision statement in the present tense,
the RAS will help you meet your goals by
noticing opportunities to resolve the
discrepancy between the present reality and
In reality you don?t want to work on all of
those goals simultaneously. It would be over
whelming. So if your RAS notices a guy who
knows how to parasail and you have parasailing
as one of your goals for after you get tenure
or finish your book or get the kids out of the
house, grab that information and park it in
your Dream Book. If it is just a name and phone
number it goes on a sticky and into the ?Hobby?
section. If it is a brochure, drop it into a
plastic sleeve and click into your Dream Book
in back of the Hobby pages. If you decide later
that parasailing is not something you want to do,
you can dump the brochure in the recycling
center. Never again will you be in the situation
of getting to a goal you have dreamed about and
say, ?I wish I had that parasailing guy?s
- Use the Dream Book for research.
Imagine that a research article you are reading
has juicy information about one of your future
writing topics. You can either drop the article
into a plastic sleeve in the Dream Book or file
the article in a folder with a sticky placed in
your Dream Book in the research sub section on
that topic. By the time you sit down to work on
the article your background reading will be
done. Be sure to underline or mark with a sticky
the section in the article that interested you
and why it was interesting. If you find a
section of a book interesting, photocopy it,
mark up the photocopy pages, and file it in a
sleeve or folder. Be sure to note the complete
reference on the photocopied pages.
Similarly, you may have research gathering for
your personal goals such as remodeling your
house. You might drop in a few brochures on
kitchen cabinets and granite selections into
your ?Home? section. After awhile the house
project might need its own Dream Book with sub
categories for ?cabinets? ?paint colors,? and
?granite types.? When we planned our daughter?s
wedding we started a book with sections on
invitations, videographers, musicians, halls to
rent, caterers, etc. As we drew up contracts,
they went into sleeves in the appropriate
sections and we tossed all the other
information but one backup vendor in case
something went wrong. On the day of the
wedding we brought the Wedding Dream Book along
just in case there were any contract glitches.
- Use the Dream Book for archival material.
Leave the backs of the pages free so you can
park completed goals. That way you can review
your completed goals by reading your Dream Book
backward, a very useful activity when it is
time to revise your resume or do your annual
report. If you are using poster boards to track
your goals, you can park the competed goals on
the back of poster boards.
Get It Done - Use Tracking Sheets
None of your goals will happen if those stickies
stay parked in the Dream Book or on the Dream
Wall. Now it is time to commit to some goals.
Pick a goal that is easy to commit to, perhaps a
goal you are already working on, like an article
that is in rough draft form that needs revision.
- Take one of your goals and write smaller
sub-goals that have to be completed to achieve
the big goal. If finishing an article is your
goal these might be the steps you would follow:
- Outline the rough draft to see what form the
ideas are taking;
- Rewrite the draft to fit the outline;
- Have a colleague read it;
- Send to more colleagues;
- Submit to journal.
- Wait for reviews;
- Set up a Tracking Sheet to keep track of
your goals and sub-goals by turning one of
your sheets to landscape orientation and label
the first row with the goal you want to work
on. Label the columns in units of time by
weeks, months, and years depending on your
projects. In the cells formed by the
intersection of the rows (goals) and the
columns (dates) fill in the cells with the
sub-goals that need to happen at the ½ way
point, the ¼ way point and then the next few
days. You can fill in the sub-goals starting
today and going forward or starting at the
end point and planning backward. Put any of
the sub-goals that you can complete under
whichever time frame you want to do it. For
example, the goal, ?Review Wilber?s book?
might take a week but ?Look up a reference?
can be done in minutes.
You can move the early sub-goal sticky notes to
some place where you will review them on the
computer monitor, bathroom mirror, or paper
calendar. You can type them into a word
processing table or a spreadsheet. (For a
downloadable Word version of a Tracking Sheet
with examples and with places for your own
projects, go to:
The key is to keep acting on the goals and check
whether you are staying on track by referring to
the Tracking Sheets.
When you are finished organizing your first goal
into sub-goals allocated to time units, take
another goal, professional or personal and do the
same. Eventually you will have all your current
goals and sub-goals on one Tracking Sheet. The
vertical column forms a to-do list for the week.
As things get crossed off, you can see immediately
what is progressing and what things are being
procrastinated. Having both personal goals and
sub-goals on the same sheet allows you to avoid
those time management ?Oops? such as scheduling
an article to be submitted the same week as your
kids? spring break.
- Transfer your Tracking Sheets into your PDA,
calendar, etc. Review them on either Friday or
Sunday evening or Monday morning to know what has
been completed this week, what needs to be done
next week, and the trouble spots in your planning.
Problem solve about the sub-goals that aren?t
getting done. Are they not important? Do you not
have the resources to manage them? Are they too
big and need to be broken down better? Do you not
really care about them?
As you complete your goals, check them off in
your system. Review your whole Dream Book twice a
year to check if your Purpose, Mission, and Vision
statements are still relevant. File and organize
all the ancillary materials on your goals.
Celebrate your accomplishments and enjoy a deep
sense of accomplishment that your life matters
and that you are living by your values.
Dream big and get things done.
2. Professor Destressor Workshops and Coaching
About the publisher: Susan Robison, Ph.D. is a
psychologist and an independent educator. She is
professor of psychology at the College of Notre Dame of
Maryland and offers services as a professional coach,
speaker, author and seminar leader. She loves to coach
professionals who want improvement in:
If you are feeling stuck on the way to your ideal life,
give Susan a call for a complementary half-hour coaching
- work-life balance,
- strategic career management,
- time management,
- increasing productivity.
Susan provides keynotes and seminars to colleges,
universities and professional organizations on the
She offers her audiences a follow-up coaching session
because she knows that workshops don’t work… unless the
participants apply their learnings.
- work-life balance and stress management,
- faculty development,
- time management,
- leadership strategies for academics,
- relationships skills at home and at work,
- change strategies.
Contact Susan for your coaching, speaking, or seminar
needs at Susan@ProfessorDestressor.com or at 410-465-5892.
3. Up and coming workshops
I am accepting speaking invitations for faculty
work/life balance and leadership workshops for
summer and fall of 2009. Contact me if your group
needs a speaker on any of the topics listed above.
Title: "Peak Performance Practices of Highly
Effective and Happy Faculty”
Date: May 27, 2009
Place: National Institute of Staff and
Organizational Development (NISOD) Conferencce, Austin, TX
Registration, fee, and directions:
Title: "Peak Performance Practices of Highly
Effective and Engaged Faculty”
Date: June 2-5, 2009
Place: The Teaching Professor Conference, Washington, D. C.
Registration, fee, and directions: see http://
Title: "Time Management: Why You Don't Need It,
Can't Do it Anyway and What To Do Instead”
Date: June 26, 2009
Place: Textbook and Academic Authors Conference;
San Antonio, TX
Registration, fee, and directions: see http://
For a sample of the session and more about the
conference listen to the
podcast of Susan with Kim Pawlak of TAA
(interviewer: Chris Kenneally of Copyright
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© Copyright 2009 Susan Robison. All rights reserved. The
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