Effective goal setting for the new year

Every time a new year rolls around, gyms are packed with new members ready to get into shape. New Year’s resolutions are the talk of January, but will they still be around by July? Sadly, research suggests that less than half of New Year’s resolutions are successful by July 1. Even an earnest desire to change isn’t enough to make a difference. We have to manage stimulus control, positive thinking, and reinforcement management (or increasing a desirable behavior). Many in higher education dismiss goal setting as administrative nonsense or a management fad. However, research on students demonstrates that setting goals can lead to increased achievement. I have no reason to doubt the same is true for faculty and administrators in higher ed. In today’s post, I want to describe the process that I use for goal setting and recommend you undertake to lead to effective goal setting for the new year.

Photo credit: Jeff Tidwell

The SMART Goal Method

Writing what are called SMART goals has been around for decades and provides a concrete approach to setting goals. The approach helps you identify specific actions to take toward achieving your goals. One of the reasons that I believe people struggle or dislike goal setting is that it seems an academic exercise that fails to lead to action. The SMART method avoid this problem by identifying specific actions that you need to take to meet your goals.

We must stop glorifying busyness

Chances are if you run into someone on campus then the conversation will go something like this. “Hi, how’s it going?”  “I’m so busy!” “Yep, me too!  It must be that time of the semester.” It doesn’t matter when this conversation occurs because it is always that time of the semester. A study by John Ziker from Boise State University even provides data on how busy we are in higher education. In a blog post, Ziker found that professors at Boise work 61 hours per work and spend 17% of their time in meetings. The curse of knowledge work (which most of us in higher education are engaged in) is that it can largely be done anytime and anywhere. For too many of us that turns into all the time and everywhere.

Photo credit: Peter Kuo

How to keep email from running your life

The reality of email:  can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Of all the technologies that have made their way into our personal and professional lives, I believe email can be one of the most distracting and time intensive. While email provides enormous benefits for communicating quickly and cheaply, the amount of time required to manage and process email can be profoundly damaging. No one is getting tenure, promoted to a new position, or gets a raise because they are good with email. However, the reverse can absolutely be true. In today’s post, I want to share five strategies that can keep email from running your life.

Photo credit: mattwi1s0n

Before discussing these strategies in detail, I want to address the elephant in the room.

Whenever I discuss ways to curb email, many people just immediately assume this isn’t possible.

To be sure, there are some positions that by the nature of the job requires constant email work. However, I suspect that the vast majority of you reading this will not fall into this category.

I want to argue that if you have an email problem that it is time to look in the mirror.

What Google’s team research can teach higher ed

The importance of teamwork is increasingly understood as important across many work contexts. In higher education, we talk a great deal about the need for teamwork to support innovation, creativity, and productivity. There’s been a fascination for years about the potential of interdisciplinary activities to break down silos and build connections across campus. Whether we are talking about faculty or administrative offices, higher education leaders desire to promote teamwork, but how do we do this in the construct of the university. In today’s post, I want to share what Google’s team research can teach higher ed about teamwork.

Photo credit: Google

A research group inside of Google’s human resources unit (what they call People Operations) sought to understand what makes a Google team effective. 

The role and purpose of a research agenda

A research agenda plays a valuable role in helping design scholarly activities for graduate students and faculty. Simply put, a research agenda means identifying the areas you will research and the methodologies you will use to answer questions. You probably have heard from professors in graduate school and beyond that you can’t research everything so you need to pick what you can feasibly study. Moreover, a scattershot approach can keep you from focusing on important questions and pull you in a number of different directions. In today’s post, I will describe research agenda and why they can be of benefit for researchers.

Photo credit: Paul Albertella