All posts by Natalie Houston

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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…

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Three Words for the New Semester

One of my favorite things about the rhythms of academic life is that we get to start fresh several times a year. A new semester brings new students, new courses, new research opportunities, and the chance to try doing something a bit differently.

Here at ProfHacker, Amy’s written before about setting New Year’s resolutions to improve on the previous semester’s experience, and Anastasia’s written about setting teaching resolutions for a new semester.

To focus my intentions and actions for the ne…

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Year-End Reflection

cardinal

The end of the semester is a natural time for reflection and planning, and with the calendar year drawing to a close, you may feel added impetus to review the past four, six, or twelve months. Review and reflection about what actually happened over that time is an important step to take before jumping in to setting goals or resolutions for the new year or new semester.

Here are a few questions that can help with end of the semester or end of the year review. Set aside a block of time where you …

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The Now Page Movement

clocks

Setting clear priorities for how you’re going to use your time and energy can often be a challenge. For academics, figuring out how to arrange the competing demands of research, teaching, and service is but one part of the larger challenge of creating a work-life balance that serves you well. And many professionals today are struggling to keep focused on important projects amidst a flood of incoming emails and meeting requests.

The /now page movement

A few weeks ago, Derek Sivers created a /now

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Tune In to Focus at Will

water drops

Our brains are designed to pay attention to novelty in our environment: at the most basic level, early in our evolution, novelty often meant danger — a predator approaching in the forest, say, or a severe storm approaching. So even as you’re focusing on a task, some portion of your brain is still busy scanning the environment for change, even when those changes are not likely to signify life-threatening conditions. If your brain is easily alerted, it can make it difficult to focus your attentio…

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It’s Not Too Late: Making Mid-Course Adjustments

sailboat

On many campuses right now, it’s midterm season. Students and faculty are feeling the strain of heavier workloads, colds and viruses are making the rounds, and the enthusiasm that marked the first few weeks of school seems like a distant memory, at least on certain days.

But if things aren’t going as well as you’d like in one of your courses, it’s good to remember that there’s still almost half a semester left, at least five or six weeks, maybe more depending on your institution’s calendar. Tha…

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Greg McKeown’s Essentialism

The first thing to know about Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: the Disciplined Pursuit of Less is that it’s not about essentialism. At least, it’s not about essentialism as the term is used in philosophy and literary theory. I resisted reading this book for a long time, in fact, because of its title. Books on productivity, leadership, and personal development often use acronyms and neologisms, and that doesn’t bother me. But to take a term with many centuries of debate attached to it and treat it l…

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From the Archives: Getting Ready for the New Semester

classroom

Sooner or later, the fall semester will start — and of course for some of us it already has. Here are some tips from the ProfHacker archives to help you navigate the transition.

Getting Ready to Teach

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Defend Against Disruption and Distraction

squawk bird

Many professionals today struggle to handle interruptions that can pull you away from focused work. Interruptions come in lots of different forms, such as notifications of email or text messages, phone calls, someone knocking on your office door, or your own stream of thoughts.

In a recent episode of the Productivityist podcast, Mike Vardy talks about the distinction he makes between disruptions and distractions:

Disruptions are things that:

  • actually do demand your attention or response
  • are of…