All posts by Natalie Houston

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Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution

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In personality typologies derived from the work of Carl Jung, introverts are described as people who gain energy from solitude and extroverts as people who gain energy from being around other people. Understanding where you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum can help you understand your own energy patterns and how best to work with them within your professional and personal life. (As an introvert, for example, after attending several sessions at an academic conference and interacting with…

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Color Enhancer Extension for Chrome

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Anastasia recently wrote about a variety of Chrome browser extensions that can make your workflow more productive or more fun. Extensions can also be used to add themes or features for accessibility.

Google recently added a new Chrome browser extension called Color Enhancer which allows users to set up a customized color filter that, when the extension is enabled, is applied to all web pages viewed in Chrome. This allows individuals with color blindness to create a filter that will help them pe…

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Three Things You Should Stop Doing This Summer

anxious cat

As the summer begins, many of us are busy setting writing goals, drawing up to-do lists for household projects, and scheduling a bit of travel, whether for work or play. All of those are good things to be doing right now.

But in addition to planning out what you want to do this summer, it can be really helpful to figure out what it is that you don’t want to do.

I call this the No-Do List. You could also call it the Not-To-Do List, but I like putting the word No at the forefront, since Not Doing…

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How to Get That Suitcase Unpacked

suitcasesOne of the great productivity mysteries has to be why so many of us put off unpacking a suitcase after a trip. This is the stuff of sitcoms, of advice columns, and blog posts. And of real life: I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes leave my bag halfway unpacked for several days after a trip, even though it makes me feel somewhere between irritated and nauseous to see it sitting in the middle of the room.

So why is it so hard to unpack a suitcase?

The primary reasons are:

Fatigue: If you ar…

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3 Ways to Makeover Your To-Do List

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When you look at your to-do list for the day, week, or month (or lists of projects and actions if you follow David Allen’s GTD distinction), do you feel a sense of clarity and direction? Or do you feel confused, overwhelmed, or frustrated?

If you feel overwhelmed, it may not just be the quantity of the work you plan to do. It may also be due to a lack of clarity about the work you plan to do.

Taking a little time to clean up your to-do list with one or more of the following steps can offer huge…

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Share URLs Quickly with ShoutKey

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Imagine you’re in a meeting, seated around a table with eight other people. You want to share a URL with them, but it’s several levels down in the hierarachy of the particular website. What do you do?

If you’re all already connected online via a shared document or text messaging, then you could just drop the URL into a message for them to click on.

But what if you’re not all connected, or you don’t know the names and email addresses of all the people you want to share the URL with? ShoutKey is …

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From the Archives: Mid-Semester

Robin

Because academic calendars vary so widely, some readers are coming back from spring break now, while others are enjoying a few days away from regular schedules. Some readers are wrapping up winter quarters or have started spring terms; others are somewhere in the middle of a spring semester.

The middle of an academic term can be a tricky time: the first flush of student and instructor enthusiasm for a particular topic or course may have waned a little. Students are feeling the burden of multipl…

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Ten Things to Do Instead of Checking Email

steaming pot

So, let’s imagine that you’re in your office, and have about 15 minutes before you need to walk out of your building to get to a meeting. What do you do in those 15 minutes?

Many readers probably answered “check email.” Checking email has become the default work-ish activity for many professionals. I said work-ish because while checking email may be work-related, for most people it is not a central activity of their work.

In fact, checking email can easily become a kind of distraction, keeping …

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Stay Focused with the Momentum Extension

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One of the most important things you can do to enhance your productivity is to keep focusing on your highest priorities, the big important things, which can easily be obscured by the rush of urgent demands and everyday maintenance tasks. Even when you’ve taken the time to reflect on your roles and define your priorities, it’s easy to lose sight of them during the day.

The Momentum personal dashboard extension for the Chrome browser offers an appealing way to set a clear focus for the day and be…

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Updates to Noisli


One of the most powerful things you can do to improve your focus and productivity is to adjust your working environment. We each have different preferences for things like soft or hard furniture, room temperature, and background noise. Figuring out what works best for you in your environment can help you make the most out of your work time.

I’ve written before about Noisli, an online tool that combines a highly customizable background noise generator with a distraction-free writing environment….