All posts by Natalie Houston

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Making Room

empty room

One of my favorite questions for reflection and conversation at this time of year is:

What do you want to make room for this fall?

I like this question because not only does it encourage you to think about what you would like more of in your life, but also about how you can make that happen.

Sometimes making room is literal: clearing a bookshelf for materials for a new project, or decluttering a closet to bring ease to your daily routine.

Sometimes making room needs to happen in your schedule: …

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From the Archives: Preparing for the New Semester

classroom

It’s that time again . . .  here are some tips from the ProfHacker archives.

Designing/Revising Your Syllabi

If you’ve only got a few minutes, check out 11 Fast Syllabus Hacks for useful updates to your course documents.

Konrad’s Citing Syllabi suggests some best practices for citing the work of other instructors whose syllabi you’ve consulted and for ensuring your own syllabus can be shared and remixed if that’s your intent.

Jason’s Creative Approaches to the Syllabus provides links to a numbe…

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Estimating Student Workload for Your Courses

books

As the start of the fall term approaches, many ProfHacker readers are designing or revising course syllabi. Among the challenging decisions that instructors face in creating syllabi is the question of how much reading, writing, and other work to assign each week.

The federal definition of course credit hours assumes a minimum of “two hours of out-of-class student work per week for a semester hour.” According to this metric, a student should assume at least six hours of out-of-class work per wee…

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Why You Just Lost 20 Minutes to the Internet

red clock

When was the last time you checked email, Facebook, or Twitter? (Are you checking those feeds right now, while you’ve got a tab open for this blog post?)

Does your time on the internet distract you from your priority projects and tasks? If so, you’re not alone.  Almost everyone I talk to about productivity complains about losing time online because it’s so easy to find yourself following a trail of links you didn’t deliberately set out to read.

In fact, most apps and online sites are intentiona…

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When Should You Reply to Email?

cat at laptop

An uncomfortable truth about the modern workplace is that many people are buried under a seemingly-endless flow of email. Reading it, responding to it, and managing it can take a lot of time unless you have a good system in place. Today I just want to focus on the question of when you should respond to email.

Reply to email on your own schedule, not whenever your software notifies you a new item has arrived. The most important way to gain some control over the firehose of email is to set aside …

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Curing the Blue Light Blues

As Jason pointed out recently, many of us are suffering from sleep debt — and that’s not only the amount of sleep we know we’re missing, but the additional amount of sleep we would need to move past our usual level of accustomed tiredness to something closer to optimal function:

By this point in the semester, many faculty and students are, if this research is correct, operating at cognitive deficits similar to pulling all-nighters for two days.

One reason we’re staying up at night? Our beloved …

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How to Ask Great Coaching Questions

question marks
Over the last two decades, the field of personal and professional coaching has grown and diversified. Today, the International Coaching Federation website

offers a directory of coaches specializing in everything from ADD to leadership to spiritual development. In the corporate world, coaches are frequently employed within organizations as well as hired as outside consultants. Although coaching is less well integrated within academic institutions, a growing number of coaches specialize in worki…

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Create a New Habit with an App

counting

In Three Steps for Creating a New Habit, I outlined three key elements that can help you be successful in creating a new, positive habit, whether that’s related to writing, exercise, or rest and renewal. These three steps are:

  • Connecting with the deeper value or “why” behind your desire for the new habit

  • Defining specific, measurable, and realistic targets for your new behavior

  • Tracking your actions, so you know what helps you be successful and what gets in your way.

There are lots of d…

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Three Steps for Creating a New Habit

dog in snow

We’re seven weeks into the new year, and the January crowds at your gym or yoga class are probably starting to thin out now. Many people’s New Year’s goals have been set aside, maybe due to unrealistic expectations, or to the variety of unexpected obstacles (snow days, sickness, etc) that can get in the way of new habits.

But you don’t need to wait until next January to try to create a positive new habit — and in fact, research has shown that successfully creating a new habit helps you then mak…

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Are You Fully Charged?

charging laptop

Tom Rath’s 2015 book, Are You Fully Charged? The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life, focuses on three areas that contribute to a daily experience of greater engagement, well-being, and productivity — what Rath calls being “fully charged.” These three areas are:

Meaning: doing something that benefits another person
Interactions: creating for more positive than negative moments
Energy: making choices that improve your mental and physical health
(p.7)

Throughout the numerous short chapters th…