I’m back (finally) with another Ultimate Bundle Challenge check-in! As you may have noticed from my previous post, my focus has been a bit scattered lately and my energy level has been a little unstable. But, I have completed Days 3 and 4 in the Stretched Too Thin online course from Jessica Turner. It is taking me quite a bit longer than the 10 days assigned, but I WILL get through it all. As you see my reaction to Day #3, you may be clued in to why this is taking a bit longer than the 10 assigned days. #learningthings If you would like to read my reflections on Episode #1 and 2, please read this blog post. And if you want to see my reflections of another Ultimate Bundle resources, read this blog post. And just a reminder that the majority of the materials in the Ultimate Bundle are available at other times of the year, but the Ultimate Bundle purchase saves you a ton of cash on them!
Episode #3 – Guilt
This was definitely an area where I need work. I feel guilty a lot of the time and for many different reasons. I am a procrastinator, so that is a big part of my problem. I put things off constantly and then do not have time to do them the way I would like to do them or at all. I did realize I need to ask for more help. I constantly try to do everything myself and it is insane. So, I think I’m going to break down and get a housecleaner when Fall rolls around. I am going to do my best to get the house cleaned up and functioning over the summer so each week we can have someone come in and do the basics – dust, vacuum well, clean the stuff I forget to clean, etc. I am going to ask our landlord for new flooring this summer too. We’ve lived her for eight years, so I feel like it isn’t asking a whole lot of him. I just want the carpeting gone. I want wood floors (fake wood is fine) that will be easier to clean. I’m also going to get new furniture and I’m going to have the backyard cleaned up so the dogs aren’t bringing in so much dust and there isn’t so many flies, etc. I also want to hire someone to clean up dog poop, but that just seems ridiculous. But, we just aren’t very good about doing it on a weekly basis and with two dogs, it need to be done twice a week probably. Sigh…see, that makes me feel guilty. We should be better pet owners. I should be a better housekeeper. Better, better, better…
But, the episode did convince me of a couple of things. First, I need to delegate more things. Both at home and at work. But, I need to do that delegation in an effective way. I need to have Standard Operating Procedures for everything that are simple and straight-forward. I need to figure out how to get rid of as many things as possible to others and then more effectively do the things that I really need to be doing.
Part of the episode had to do with FOMO. I definitely have FOMO in some areas of my life. I have it more at work than anywhere else. But, I also have it for email, podcasts, blogs, etc. I want to hear, read and see it all. But, I don’t really get what I need most because there is so much of it and nothing is really prioritized. The workbook for this episode asked what things I do only because I think I should and what changes I would make to that list. One of the things was volunteering at my DD’s school each week. I don’t really go every week, but I do feel guilty when I don’t. But, it does stress me out and I just don’t feel like I’m very good at it. That may change in a different class next year, but I can volunteer for other things like PTO and field trips, etc. instead of helping out in the class. Or maybe the class coordinator for the teacher. But, helping out just makes me exhausted. I also
The workbook for this episode asked what things I do only because I think I should and what changes I would make to that list. One of the things was volunteering at my DD’s school each week. I don’t really go every week, but I do feel guilty when I don’t. But, it does stress me out and I just don’t feel like I’m very good at it. That may change in a different class next year, but I can volunteer for other things like PTO and field trips, etc. instead of helping out in the class. Or maybe the class coordinator for the teacher. But, helping out just makes me exhausted. I also try to do ALL the tournaments for Speech and Debate (I think I went to something like 13 tournaments this year…maybe more). I need to target going to only one tournament a month and just make the students choose from those. I like to give them opportunities to fit them into their schedule, but in reality, the ones who have scheduling problems STILL have scheduling problems. So, it isn’t achieving what I want it to and it is making me exhausted and miserable. Third thing on the list was the number of assignments I do for points in my classes. If I were productive, I could set up online assessments that the students could do on their own instead of with me in class and I wouldn’t have to grade them. I could also do fewer points and more Plus, Check, Minus assignments and then have those average out to a certain percentage at the end of the semester (e.g. plus = 100%; check-plus = 85%; check = 75%; check-minus =65% and minus = 50%). That way the grading is relatively quick and I don’t have to “score” things, but just give them an idea of what is working and what isn’t working. The fourth was redoing class stuff each and every semester. I like to keep the class fresh, but I think I need the same basic assignments with different discussion pieces around those concepts. I do too much “touching-up” and need to make smaller changes and be more consistent with the big things. So many things to think about. But, all of it would be helpful.
This particular episode really helped me to see that I am doing too much with too little time. I need to make choices and stick with them. I need help. I need to be willing to ask for help and use it effectively when I have it. This gives me a lot of things to do over the summer, but those things could make the remainder of my teaching and coaching career so. much. easier.
Episode #4 – Boundaries and Community at Work
Another good episode for me. This one focused on work in two different ways. First, creating boundaries between home life and work life. Second, was creating community at work to provide support and enjoyment.
The boundaries area was something I can definitely work on. I have great flexibility in my jobs, but I often work way too many hours and I don’t draw clear boundary lines between work and home. I only gave myself a 2 out of 10 in this area. I’m sure this is even harder for those who work purely at home, but I do enough work at home that it becomes difficult for me to “turn off” from work and just focus on home. It reinforced that I need to do less of some things (assignments that need grading outside the classroom, number of speech and debate tournaments we attend, etc.) and delegate other things more effectively (travel planning, reconciliations after tournaments, administrating on-campus events, etc.). I am just not very effective at delegating and it is something I will absolutely be working on improving.
The community discussion was the place where I really made what I feel is a breakthrough. I had completely stopped seeking community with my work colleagues. I am not sure why or how it happened, but I just stopped attending any work events, I avoided seeing people outside of my regular working hours and I felt pretty isolated. So, I made a commitment to do three changes to “deepen my community at work” and one of them had to be acted on that week. So, I took action on attending faculty events and meetings at both campuses where I work. Something I had only done a couple of times in the past few years and even then, it was reluctant. As a result, I attended both “end-of-semester” celebrations and both were wonderful and I felt great about attending them. In the past, I would attend but go home feeling like I wished I had done something else. But, this year, both of them were enjoyable and I felt some bonding happening with colleagues. I also attended a Faculty Collaboration on our General Education program that was also enjoyable. And finally, I went to a small workshop for a grant I received last year and was able to talk to some faculty members from other departments at the University. Overall, this was really beneficial to me emotionally. I’m actually looking forward to doing more of it in the future.
The final piece of this episode’s work (and there was a lot packed into this episode) was finding tools that can keep me organized at work and home. This has been an on-going challenge for me for a very long time. I’ve gone from electronic tool to electronic tool to paper planner back to electronic tool back to different paper planner. None of it seems to work very well for me. I don’t check any of them regularly. I am often so inundated with notifications and emails that I miss the reminders sent by the electronic tools. I just have too much going on to be able to keep track of all of it effectively. At least, that is how I feel. But, I think part of that is that I am not disciplined about checking my calendar or planner or to-do list on a regular basis. If I forced myself to check my calendar and to-do list each evening before going to bed and seeing what is happening the next day it would be a huge help. If I actually would check my calendar and to-do list before saying yes to things, that would help as well. If I always wrote down appointments in my calendar and put tasks on my to-do list IMMEDIATELY upon finding out about them, that would help a whole lot. So, most of this falls on me and my lack of discipline. This isn’t a total shock, but it did clarify some things for me. And it made me realize the systems that HAD really helped when I was using them the way they should be used and not intermittently or when I thought about using them. So, that is a place where I will be doing a lot of work over this summer and in the Fall. I think using the less-pressure-filled summer to establish some good habits will help when the Fall rolls around.
So, there you have it. An action-packed and knowledge-packed couple of lessons from Stretched To Thin. I will be moving into Day 5 and Day 6 in the next update. But, as of now, I am just short of half-way through and I would very much tell people that this is a worthwhile online class to take. I really like Jessica in the videos, the workbook is pretty easy and enjoyable to work through after the videos, and there are a number of little discount/freebies related to the different episodes for those who enroll.