All posts by Natalie Houston

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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…

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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