All posts by Natalie Houston

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Backup for Back to School

lock box

Cloud-based backup provider Crashplan (which we mentioned in Do You Have a Backup Plan? announced in August that it would no longer offer subscriptions designed for home or personal use. Current users’ plans would continue to run for a little over a year, until October 2018 when the Home version of their product would be shuttered completely. (Crashplan will continue to offer their Small Business package.)

Although this news is understandably frustrating to current Crashplan users, there are a …

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From the Archives: Starting a New Semester

seminar table

Whether you’ve already been in the classroom for a week or two, or will be heading back in September, the ProfHacker archives are full of helpful tips to start the new semester off right. Here I mention several of our back to school roundup posts, highlighting just a few of the many links each contains.

The posts linked in From the Archives: Creating Syllabi (2014) focus on the basics of syllabus creation, including technology policies, accessibility, syllabus design, and our ever-popular 11 Fa…

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On Writing: Anne Lamott

laptop and notebook

One of the things that most frequently causes writers to feel stuck or frustrated is trying to write and edit at the same time. These are two very different cognitive activities, and examining your last three sentences for flaws is a sure way to block the creative impulse that might lead to the next sentence.

The answer, of course, is to write what Anne Lamott calls “a shitty first draft” in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life:

Very few writers really know what they are doing un…

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On Writing: Paul J. Silvia

pen and notebook

As summer is heavy-duty writing time for many academics, it also seems like a good time to revisit some favorite advice about writing. Thus the beginning of an occasional series of posts this summer on writing about writing.

It’s crucial to be able to measure your progress on a writing project in some way. Tracking your progress on any desired behavior or habit has been shown to improve your adoption of the new habit, simply from focusing your awareness of your behavior through your tracking me…

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Match Your Tasks to Your Energy Level

dog jumping over hurdle

Although we all enjoy the same 168 hours per week, the quality of our hours throughout the day varies depending on our circadian rhythms, sleep quality and quantity, stress levels, and the demands upon our time. In the summer, many academics have more flexible schedules, at least during the months when they are not teaching. Knowing how to best match your tasks to your energy cycles can help you work better and have more time for relaxation.

Even if I could wave a magic wand and give ten people…

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How to Make a Time Map for the Summer

comic style calendar

At the start of summer, many academics find themselves on a different schedule than during the academic year. Maybe you don’t teach during the summer, or if you do teach, the schedule is probably quite different from your spring/fall semesters. Some service obligations continue during the summer, but others recede into the background for a couple months.

At the start of summer, it’s easy to feel that you’ve got all the time in the world. The weeks stretch ahead, full of promise. But even only t…

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How to Learn Better with Ulrich Boser

Ulrich Boser, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, strongly believes that learning more about learning can benefit everyone, no matter their goals or stage in life. Learning how to master new skills and relate new information to existing knowledge is especially important as technological and societal change continually alter the kinds of work we perform throughout our lifetimes.

In his new book, Learn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or, H…

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The Semester Review

magnify clouds

There are many urgent, practical things that need to be done as the semester winds down: administrative reports, meetings, grading, and book orders for the next term. But setting aside a few minutes for reflection offers many benefits. An end-of-semester review process lets you capture important aspects of your experience while they are still reasonably fresh in your mind so that you can learn from them.

Taking time to notice and celebrate the positive aspects of the semester is especially valu…

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Take Notes with a Structured Template

books

As Jason recently reminded us, ProfHackers love to take notes. We’ve covered lots of tools and approaches to recording and searching notes, but few of these posts cover much detail about the content or structure of the notes.

As Lincoln noted in “Take Better Notes by Paraphrasing,” if you paraphrase,

You end up with a record not just of the source but of why it is important to your research. And . . . by paraphrasing while taking notes, you’ve already done some of the work towards producing a…

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Making Time for Deep Work

cat on desk

As Jason noted a year ago in his review of Cal Newport’s book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Newport’s central claim will seem familiar to many academic readers: deep work — extended concentration on challenging problems — is both extremely valuable and difficult to commit to. If you’re used to jockeying among multiple browser tabs and responding to notifications all the time, your brain will crave that extra stimulus when you try to settle down to work more deeply….