Sunday, November 18, 2012

Crunch time -- aggressive time management for end of semester

As we near the end of the semester, some students find themselves in a bit of a panic about how they will finish all of the work that is due. Here are a few strategies:

1. Block times on your schedule for writing or whatever other work you need to do. If you are still trying to fit school in between other commitments, now is the time to chunk off blocks of time, in advance.

2. Protect your time. If you have a habit of letting requests from friends and family creep into time that you had planned for school work, now is the time to say "no" and fiercely protect the time you have designated for school work.

3. If you can, take a day off from work. This sounds obvious but many of us don't think of it. If possible, take a day off from work and devote it entirely to your school work.

4. Ask for help. I mention this often in this blog. If you haven't yet asked your family or friends for help, now is the time. Ask family to help with things that need to be done around the house or help with shopping and food prep. If you aren't living with family or partner, and if you have supportive friends, ask them to bring a meal. This doesn't sound like much, but if you can avoid the time it takes to prep food and instead have meals right there and ready, you can work longer and get more done.

5. Skip something. Review your schedule and see if there are commitments that you can miss. Of course some commitments need to be kept, but there may be plans that can be postponed until after your work is done. I have postponed lunches with colleagues, nights out with friends, etc., and then made the most of that extra time.

Cheering you on in you on in your work!

Photo by HLS

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Inspiration from Susan Nelson

Two years ago today, the world lost an amazing woman, Susan Nelson. Susan was our neighbor and friend in Pittsburgh for many years until she and her husband Dave moved to California for a job change. Susan passed away two years ago, but her scholarship and wisdom live on.

Each year on this blog, I post an address that she gave when she was at Claremont School of Theology. May Susan's words give you inspiration and hope:

Dear students,
I am glad to welcome you
To what I expect will be an exciting
And challenging
Year at Claremont School of Theology.
When I began my journey
Into theological education,
The word “career”
Had not crossed my lips.
I entered my first program, rather,
As a seeker.
I loved to read and muse
And I wanted an opportunity
To think about the meaning of life
And to grow
In wisdom and knowledge
I knew that life is fragile,
But I had not yet learned
How to hold the brokenness of life
With the joy of discovery
That, broken or not
It was worth the journey.
I loved beauty,
But I had not learned that beauty is fleeting
And that finitude is part of what
Makes it so beautiful.
I yearned for loving relations,
And had yet to realize
All the ways in which
I could learn to avoid
The tension of face-to-face relations.
These learnings were critical
To my growth as a human being
And to what eventually became
My calling as teacher and administrator.
I expect that each of you
Is something of a seeker.
Curiosity and possibility
Have drawn you to this place
To this faculty and staff –
To the fellow students you will tussle with
And perhaps enjoy along the way.
I expect that you will not be the same person
When you leave CST
That you are right now.
I expect that you will know moments
When the works feels out of reach,
Your studies less than lustrous
And many other moments
When you will know the satisfaction
Of accomplishment
And the joy of doing something
Really well.
And I expect you will grow friendships
And learn an important lesson,
That mutual respect for all people
Is critical
For the flourishing of life.
May you thrive in your challenges at CST,
May you grow in appreciation
Of the privilege
Of learning
In a community of scholars
May you have stellar teachers and mentors,
May you find moments
When you are surprised by joy
Or struck by a beauty
That totally draws you in
Providing absolute distraction
And, may you risk companionship
And the messiness of life
In genuine community
A year ago,
Students asked me to consider
Giving a “last lecture” –
If I were invited
To give the final lecture of my life,
What would I say?
Since that time,
I’ve had to actually consider
“Last things”
And how to live
In a present reality
That seems so precarious.
What I would say if asked
To give that lecture on this day, is
Practice awareness,
Watch yourselves breathe, -
Every day find at least one thing to be thankful for
- Tell others what they mean to you -
And practice the discipline
Of taking nothing for granted –
Or perhaps, better said,
The discipline of forgiving yourselves
For all the ways
You will take life for granted
And receive it anyway.
Grace and peace
Be upon you.
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