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Teaching Tip: Staying Balanced as You Prepare for the Fall Semester

August 6, 2016

burnoutI just read an interesting piece that is slightly outside our usual OM blog themes–but very worthwhile nonetheless. “It may be time,” writes Faculty Focus, “to identify some new strategies for self-care.” Here is a menu of ideas to help faculty design a balanced and productive work life:

  1. Examine how you spend your time and energy: Which work-related tasks leave you feeling energized or excited? Which feel like unnecessary chores? Next year, prioritize activities that build you up or represent an important contribution to the field. Cultivate the art of saying “no.”
  2. Rethink OM course design: Use creative course design strategies and tools to provide engaging experiences for students without taking up a disproportionate amount of your time. For example, use a simple audio recording tool to provide feedback instead of typing your comments. Vocaroo and VoiceThread make great options. Students appreciate the personal approach, and providing verbal feedback takes far less time than generating written comments.
  3. Refine your daily workflow: Consider using a service that delivers e-mails a few times per day rather than trying to work through the persistent interruptions of new emails arriving in your inbox. Use an electronic “to do” list like Todoist or Wunderlist to organize reminders and deadlines. Use Google or Outlook calendar scheduling for reminders to take a daily walk, meditation, or a quick stretch.
  4. Evaluate your food and fuel: Food can drag you down or prop you up. Step away from your desk periodically for a snack, and be sure to choose one that is nourishing as well as invigorating.  Use your snack break to get outdoors or connect with your colleagues while you nourish yourself.

Self-care isn’t an all-or-nothing approach. Starting small is ideal. Pick one or two practices to implement tomorrow.

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