The Disease of Being Busy

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At #CNMAC14, Rachel Jordan encouraged us to think about transforming our lives, including removing the ‘idol’ of being busy’, so interesting to come across this piece:

Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.

Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.

Read full article.

Some thoughts on Imposter Syndrome

Venetian masks

There was a great conversation about ‘Imposter Syndrome’ at Gathering of Women Leaders – clear messages, don’t be embarrassed to acknowledge it (it helps you move forward, and it helps others acknowledge and overcome theirs), it’s not a weakness, strategies can be used … and don’t let it stop you doing stuff! So, another piece came through one of my social media feeds … and here’s a load of names you might recognise who ‘suffered’ from it:

“The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.” – Tina Fey

“There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert.  How do these people believe all this about me?  I’m so much aware of all the things I don’t know.” Dr. Chan, Chief of the World Health Organization

“I still think people will find out that I’m really not very talented.  I’m really not very good.  It’s all been a big sham.” – Michelle Pfeifer

“Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this.  I’m a fraud.” – Kate Winslett

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’ “ – Maya Angelou

Then read 21 ways of dealing with it!

Life’s Regrets?

Death

Really fascinating piece and a good reminder as to what are the important things in life – as expressed by those on their deathbed to their nurses.

1) Living a life true to yourself

2) Not working so hard

3) Having courage to express true feelings

4) Stayed in touch with friends:

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5) I wish I’d let myself be happier.

When I trained as a coach, one of the exercises that we focused on was getting people to write the eulogy that they hope might be given for them when they die (death is about the only certainty in this life, right?), and then work out how to make life fit with that. I’ve been making various steps backwards and forwards in this recently, and wonder whether the amount of time I’ve spent decluttering has helped (it’s certainly helped clear my brain – I know that the things I still own I use or value in some way, rather than ‘just in case’) … or whether I could have used that time out with friends…

MOOCs are damaging Mentoring?

hands-family-1314523-mHaving spent a significant chunk of today talking about mentoring, an interesting piece to come across in Times Higher Ed:

I have spent nearly my whole life, since kindergarten in 1956, in love with learning and teaching. I have derived lots of pleasure and satisfaction from thinking, reading, exploring new ideas, and trying to identify and then answer questions and solve problems. These are all to me social processes that need to be protected and nurtured for the good of society. So when people tamper with the personal and interpersonal humanising elements of education, I feel they are defiling something sacred and making it harder for others to learn what it is to be human in the ways in which I was lucky to have had the chance to do.

Let me make two strong opinions clear. First, Moocs are a threat to the educational environment. Second, being mentored in a meaningful and lasting way is an endangered phenomenon.

Read whole article.

Inbox 0?

So, I may have been a bit quiet for the past 16 hours … aside from sleep, I’ve been implementing ‘Inbox 0′ … as you can see there are still 200-odd emails to be dealt with, but I can see where those are, rather than in the previous complicated series of rules/folders – which meant I was starting to miss some (as I am using my phone more heavily – and those disappear straight out of sight). So, using a newsletter from Matt Stocker from a week or so ago, in which he recommends 3 folders:

  • Action Required: Do I need to take action? Put it in the folder, then deal with it as soon as possible. Don’t let this folder get out of control.
  • Archive: Things you might want to keep, but unsorted as the search will allow finding
  • Waiting For: Something to which you can’t make further progress until someone responds.

I have found having a folder into which I post all my RSS feeds/newsletters particularly helpful to deal with in a chunk, so I’ve kept that, and a separate project that I also deal with at specific times. And from having around 6000+ emails that I wasn’t sure what to do with – here we are this morning:

inbox0a

Let’s see how it goes! I use it in conjunction with Do.Com – which is started to shout at me less, as I’m becoming VAGUELY more realistic about how long things take, and the cost-benefit/ROI of how much time to spend on different things … all part of the coaching journey!

And that’s the work email, still got others to work out, but as with my house/wardrobe, etc. gradually getting on top of things..

The big fat body shape debate…

Interesting:

Is fat still a feminist issue? As obesity rates soar while plus-size is celebrated, one writer says we need to destigmatise skinny, while another argues it’s healthy to show women in all their splendour

Read the full article in the Evening Standard, ahead of Plus Size fashion fair.

And you know what I agree with both writers … it’s not a black & white issue … I don’t feel so healthy right now, but also I have other things to deal with first… but I have at least found a better range of clothes to wear thanks to Hannah!

Positive Procrastination?

http://www.suzygreaves.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/procrastination.jpg

http://www.suzygreaves.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/procrastination.jpg

Procrastination can have it’s benefits (I get many things done whilst I’m thinking about what I’m going to do – but sometimes you just have to sit down – or get out of the door – or whatever – and get on with it!):

Researchers and practitioners have long regarded procrastination as a selfhandicapping and dysfunctional  behavior. In the present study, the authors proposed that not all procrastination behaviors either are harmful or  lead to negative consequences.
Specifically, the authors differentiated two types of procrastinators: passive procrastinators versus active  procrastinators. Passive procrastinators are procrastinators in the traditional sense. They are paralyzed by their indecision to act and fail to complete tasks on time. In contrast, active procrastinators are a “positive” type of  procrastinator. They prefer to work under pressure, and they make deliberate decisions to procrastinate. The present results showed that although active procrastinators procrastinate to the same degree as passive procrastinators, they are more similar to nonprocrastinators than to passive procrastinators in terms of purposive use of time, control of time, self-efficacy belief, coping styles, and outcomes including academic performance. The present findings offer a more sophisticated understanding of procrastination

Read full article (PDF).

Clearing out the clutter with @findmystyle

Yesterday was a pretty full on day. If you’ve seen recent posts, you know that I’m starting to emerge from a pretty tough time, helped by Linda at Release Counselling, and transitioning back to ‘life back on track’, which has included decluttering my bookcases, desk, things in storage, etc., and taking time to get life into a better balance, e.g. through guided retreat.

Yesterday was detox the wardrobe day with Hannah Jean of Find My Style. In my quest for transparency/authenticity, we will note that Hannah is my cousin (we lost touch for years, and got back in touch via Facebook), but this was a paid gig. One of the blog posts that convinced me to go for it was:

In image consulting, body shape is interpreted through the line that your shoulders and hips create. Ultimately this means that your body shape is based on your bone structure and alignment not on your weight. It does not matter how much you exercise to tone your muscle or how much weight you put on/take off: the basic frame of your body will remain the same. Read full blog post.

Post Beyond-Chocolate I have also been working on only having things in the wardrobe that I (kind-of) liked, but I was feeling I was getting stuck. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the day – was it going to be Trinny & Susannah, or a bit more Gok Wan? I’ve stayed with Hannah a few times recently, and we’ve talked about her work with Diva-Licious and Dove Self-Esteem, so I knew about her work with those who need to build up confidence in what they’re wearing.

It was quite an emotional experience, and I think took us about 6 hours in total (Hannah totally earnt her money, but we had fun too!). Over the past few weeks I’ve collected a few images relating to colour, etc. onto Pinterest, so we started by talking about those, with Hannah noting down the kind of words that were emerging as to what I want to see in my style, e.g. professional but not corporate, take me seriously, etc., with comfort still underlying it (otherwise I won’t bother wearing it, except for special occasions!).

We then went through my wardrobe, coats, then trousers, then skirts, then tops, then cardigans, etc. Hannah very much believes that wardrobes should work as wardrobes, so a load of stuff I had stored in the shelf above I have to find another home for. Occasionally we’d take a picture of something to see if there’s was an outfit in something I otherwise hadn’t worn much:

We then moved onto the stored stuff in the cupboard that doesn’t fit (I was keeping it for when/if I lose weight, but once we actually looked at it, it’s not great quality, or was suitable for a time in my past, but not now). It was, however, OK to keep some things that had memories attached to them ‘the posterity bag’. By that stage it was much easier to chuck things out. We came back to belts, bags, etc. and yes, I had a lot of cotton/hemp bags, scarves and all sorts, and as we’d done with t-shirts, could only keep enough that they would fit OK in the storage space I have (otherwise I don’t use them). A number of things have gone into storage cupboards, so that everything that’s accessible is ready to wear now. We then ensured that all the hangers were ‘size free’ – doesn’t matter what size it is – does it fit?! See here Hannah with the pile of stuff we moved out (sorry if you see anything you gave me, but we had to be tough!)

After 4.5 hours we’d had enough so decided to head into town, for a meal & the 45 minutes that the shops were still open for. Hannah’s a big believer in getting rid of things from the flat asap, in case you’re overcome by temptation to go back through and take things out (believe me – no – I’ve paid someone to come & do this, it’s taken ages, I don’t want to take it back out again… but apparently I’m unusual in that), so here you see – 4 bags into the clothes bin (they can make someone else happy) – there was also another bag of useless clothes into the rubbish bin:

Image by @findmystyle

Having bought a new top, cardigan, and some underwear (it’s important!), we zoomed off to  40th birthday party, where Hannah got to remind herself of how to Tango. We got back about 11ish, with my shoes/jewellery still to do! Whilst I uploaded final content for the new version of The Big Bible Project, Hannah lined all my footwear up (about 35), and we assessed which I wear. Anything that causes discomfort, or that I don’t really like (“but they were expensive”), went into another clothing bank bag, 4 went into a ‘wear them in with socks & see how you get on with them’, whilst all the rest were polished up, and lined up ready to wear!

The jewellery box that was rammed full of lots of “big” jewellery, tarnished stuff, things that people have given me that aren’t really me, mixed in with the bits that I like! We were pretty ruthless by this point (it was pretty late!), but I was introduced to the silver polishing cloth that I didn’t know I had… and suddenly things are back to life. Anything that looks past it, or is something that I no longer wear… off it went – someone else can enjoy it!

SO: now all I have left to do is sew back together a couple of things, ensure I keep things hung up, iron some stuff (IRONING?!), and make a collage of stuff I like to look out for future shopping trips! 

Have you read ‘Less is More’ by @Echosounda?

I have spent much of the last 10-12 years, ever since we moved from our large home in Sussex to a much smaller one in Suffolk (not that I have ever truly lived in Suffolk), in gradually trying to declutter and focus more and more on what’s important. I feel that I still have a long way to go, but having spent last weekend in some serious decluttering (the physical space is nearly there, the electronic needs some more!), after going shopping yesterday and thinking I’m not sure that I need more… and knowing that I’m meeting with Brian Draper in a couple of weeks, I ensured I put aside some time this weekend to read his new book Less is More.

It’s been great to sit still for a while (no radio, TV) and just absorb some of the thinking. I don’t really want to turn this into a ‘task’ of a formal review, but would love to share a few snatches with you (and if you’re someone who’s horrified by people writing in their books – sorry – I’ve scribbled quite a lot on it)!

  •  We’re always talking about “one day” I will do this, that, the other … but we find a comfortable physical place, and we just put it on hold… for a little longer!
  • “Consumerism has a built-in obsolescence, for a very good reason: if we were truly satisfied with what we had, we wouldn’t feel the urge to consume more and more.”
  • The example of bottled water, which our culture has persuaded us we need to pay for… and has also done with many other things such as adventure, inspiration, art, etc.
  • To stop equating ‘quality of life’ with our possessions, and more with our interactions with others.
  • The example of a gratitude diary, which I kept for the first year I was on antidepressants. Do I start one up again?
  • We should give thanks for a dull news day, as it means no bad news (such as 9/11)… but those bad news days can shock us into putting our lives back into perspective.
  • Rather than expecting everything to go wrong, ask yourself “What could go right today?”
  • “But when, exactly, did life become just another problem to be solved? Who said it was something to be fixed? What if it were, instead, something rare to be witnessed, to be savoured, and to be appreciated?”
  • Ask the simple questions that others are afraid to ask, and focus on developing what you’re good at, rather than spending hours correcting your weaknesses.
  • What does silence sound like… reminds me of my trip to Doubtful Sound (which still see as the No 1 highlight of my round the world trip). Take time to stop & listen to it  (not be afraid of it)… savour the now.
Stop living by the rule of the clock then reminded me of an image I ‘pinned’ the other day:

Source: Uploaded by user via Bex on Pinterest

 

  • We fashion our sense of identity from our wounds, and old/hurtful voices clamour in our head, if we allow that to restrict our choices. It can be difficult to hear over those.
  • Go to places where oceans merge, etc.”In this kind of place, roles mean nothing. Titles mean nothing. Status means nothing. While you mean everything.”
  • A blank page represents such promise, and each time you press ‘New Message’ for an email “you are confronted with a blank page and this is your chance to use it well. It is an invitation to craft something from nothing, with care and with love.” Each day presents ‘a blank page’ – watch out for the seemingly insignificant moments that can be squeezed out by what seems important.
A reminder from Steve Jobs:
  • Don’t try and fill gaps in the conversation. Stop and properly listen – will make others feel valued.
  •  The way we’re working isn’t working. We need to understand more about how we work in waves of energy, and need to look for spaces to renew energy as well as spend it. Otherwise, as I learnt with Beyond Chocolate, you’ll eat to stay awake, when what your body needs to function effectively is sleep. I’ve also learnt much more to take time to focus – I have Google docs for each of my roles, with things that need doing – pick a task and get going on it. I also used to have a rule in my PhD research – you can move something on the calendar 3 times then you have to do it!
  • Adele’s success = not selling out!
  • Find the Source of our refreshment and wisdom – return frequently to drink from it – and then let it flow through us… not trying to trap/hold it.
  • Reconnect with creation.. and an interesting piece as someone who’s trying to run… trainers are BAD for our feet … causing us to run with our heels, and doing the work our feet are meant to do. Stop STAMPING on the earth, and learn to walk lightly on it.
  • The 6-word Memoir (which doesn’t have to be for all time)
  • Take time to listen to others stories, and think how we want our lives to be defined (as a challenge we set on Big Bible to write our own epitaph – then work towards it!).
  • Start somewhere! “We cannot do everything after all. And when we realise that we can’t, we are liberated to do one thing wherever we are, and to make the kind of difference to the world around us that only we can make.”
  • Start listening to ‘what I do is me’- and be introduced to the person you were created to be.
  • Slow down and savour the moment… taste that sandwich, say thank you to the person who served it to you…
  • Learn to live with poise (from within), rather than pose (a false identity which takes energy to maintain). It’s not always about getting from A to B, but about how you get there.
  • Learn to relate to each other without an agenda, and without judging.
  • What are the passions, values and beliefs at our centre, and how do we reach them?
  • “… in a go-getting world, we may like to think that ‘the sky’s the limit’, when really our fear of flying keeps us earthbound.” We have a responsibility to be free, whatever the situation, and need to be unafraid to fail.
A reference to a great quote (as someone who has a PhD in the arts!) – acknowledged unverified:
  • We are all involved in life’s battles – fight them – but choose the right battles.
  • A soldier follows orders: kill or be killed. A warrior fights with the example of their lives, with physical fighting the last option where necessary. Matthew Fox: The true warrior is “a co-creator, a worker with the Spirit, a worker for Spirit. The warrior’s hands are the hands of Spirit at work; the warrior’s mind is seized by theSpirit precisely in the work of creativity.”
  • We tend to live in a haze … stop to see what’s right in front of our eyes:
  • Spend time outdoors in reflection. Stop. Close your eyes for a full minute. Listen, smell, feel.
  • Autumn: the trees allow themselves to be laid bare in order for renewal, rather than holding onto the gloriously coloured leaves.
  • Eckhart Tolle The Power of Now: “Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to ‘die before you die’ and find that there is no death.”
  • A mention of Michael McCarthy and the difficulty in describing a butterfly: “It has been well said that science gives us knowledge but takes away meaning.”
  • Believe that there must be more to life than this.

Well, that was a little more than I intended to write, but I hope that it inspires you to buy the book.

Spring Cleaning… for real!

If you think I’ve been a little quiet… I’ve wanted for a while to clear out the clutter & think what do I not need to hold onto any more. Last Monday, off sick after a stomach bug, I deleted 6000+ emails (I haven’t dealt with the rest of my electronic space yet), and shredded a bin liner full of paperwork…

Good Friday I had a big clear out of the flat in Winchester, with several trips down to the bin, and a car load to charity shops.  Visiting my parents (my Dad’s not well), I then decided I wanted to go for all the stuff in the garage. I’d had half a go before Christmas (and a big go before my world travels… in fact I started at the age of 25, when we moved from a 6 bed house to a 3!), but hadn’t really had time/energy to do a lot. This morning, having got as far as I could (there’s a bit more to do, but the big big lot is done), I found in Woman Alive:

This (& 2 boxes in the other part of the garage) are all I have there now – mostly cow stuff, kitchen stuff & photo albums (which will all find a home whenever I get my own place… one day):

Tidy pile…

And look what a mess I left behind (it’s not all mine… me starting encouraged my Mum out too)… a car load for the charity shop & the rest for a big bonfire we think (the recycling bin is a little small):

Bonfire/charity pile!

I’ve put my back out a bit moving all this around, so my PhD papers are still sat in the car – hopefully it’s clear they’re nothing valuable! A lot of books weren’t worth selling, but I’ve got some on Amazon.

How far do you go with your spring cleaning?

Richard Curtis: Keep Trying

Really interesting article in i paper tonight, from Richard Curtis, talking about some of the things he’s tried for Comic/Sport Relief, which haven’t necessarily worked, but the value in trying:

Fundraising in schools has always been absolutely key to our success – and, one year, we came up with the cracking idea of writing a little play that every school in the country could perform on Red Nose Day. Fresh off the back of writing Four Weddings and a Funeral, I was pretty sure I was the man for the job.

I wrote a 15-minute epic, in which children had to dress as various vegetables – and there was a very good moral at the end about social justice and parsnips or something. Throbbing with expectation and the excitement of creating a dramatic phenomenon, we sent out 22,000 copies of the play to the UK’s schools.

Final research revealed that, in the end, eight schools performed it. We never found out the total money raised. But it wasn’t a lot. Something in the region of £50. Or a bit less.

Read full story.

“Big Fat Liars”

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/603467

What do you think of this story in the Evening Standard this evening?

We all tell the odd lie. I maintain, for example, that I have no idea how the teapot in my kitchen lost its handle. And when I missed my yoga class last week it was – of course – because I was feeling unwell.

Since we’re taking confession, hands up if you’ve ever told this one: “I deserve this large slice of chocolate cake because I went for a run yesterday.” How about: “I never eat junk food. I have a very balanced diet”? Ooh, you big fat liar!
The truth is, according to a recent poll, that women tell almost 500 lies every year about what they eat, with the top fib being, “It was only a small portion.”

Meanwhile, the overweight among us are either oblivious or won’t admit to being fat. Despite an obesity rate among UK adults of 24 per cent, only six per cent of men and women identify themselves as obese.

“There is a great deal of denial – unwitting and deliberate – surrounding obesity and food reporting,” says Professor David Haslam of the National Obesity Forum. “Part of the problem is that adults and children compare themselves with their peers who are fat, so they don’t see anything out of the ordinary.”

#HD12

On The Big Bible Project this morning we ran a story about the hashtag we’re seeking to get going, #HD12, which stands for Hopes & Dreams for 2012.

2011

2011 has been a difficult year. In February 2009 I qualified as a Life Coach, aspects of which have affected much of my practice within work, but also my life itself. Two quotes which stuck with me from the sessions:

  • “There’s no point painting the wall if it needs knocking down”.
  • “Sometimes you have to go through the shit, it’s just a case of finding a way of landing in 3ft, rather than 6ft of shit”.

Shortly afterwards I was put on antidepressants (yes, I know we’re not supposed to talk about that, but how are we supposed to support people in dealing with it if we don’t accept that it’s an illness that needs treatment), and started to meet with a counsellor to talk through how my life is the way it is…

Who gets depression?

It’s partly because I have been told so many times “you’re the last person I would have thought suffered from depression” that I thought I’d write this …

This Christmas I picked up Christopher Cantopher ‘The Curse of the Strong‘, a book that many others had identified as particularly helpful and this assessment of the ‘personality type’ that he identifies as most likely to struggle is striking (not the ‘should pull their socks up’ kinda person):

  • (moral) strength
  • reliability
  • diligence
  • strong conscience
  • strong sense of reliability
  • a tendency to focus on the needs of others before one’s own
  • sensitivity
  • vulnerability to criticism
  • self-esteem dependent on the evaluation of others (I’m not so sure about that one)
He identifies how depression, so often classified as a ‘mental disorder’ can actually be identified as a physical disorder, with the synaptic nerves in the limbic system under so much pressure that they snap … and need time to heal:

http://www.uniview.co.uk/acatalog/info_8_1057.html

Things need to heal properly before putting too much pressure back on … otherwise relapse, potentially worse, will occur… Currently, I’m still on mine… it allows me to continue to be Bex…

Failing Well

A couple of great quotes from Cantopher’s book:

Now, what’s really hard but correspondingly rewarding is to fail well. This means taking on a range of tasks, experiences and challenges, understanding that you will win some and lost some, forgiving yourself your failures and learning from them. This way you develop a life that is rich in texture and free from fear.

followed up by:

While I had succeeded in avoiding failure, he had embraced it, with the result that he had a new skill, at which he was clearly having a great time. In order to achieve success that is worthwhile and wide-ranging, you must first learn to fail well. Every happy person I have met has achieved this. It doesn’t though, mean making your life a struggle to achieve the impossible.

Making Decisions

On my Christmas/New Year holiday in Egypt last year I knew I had to make a big decision… not as a New Year Resolution (I don’t make those, if life coaching has taught me anything else, it’s that we need to make changes when the time is right, not at some random time in the calendar, although time off in the New Year can help us take time to think) … but moving forward… I’ve made huge steps in 2011… but I’m not good at congratulating myself! In many ways, I should congratulate myself that I managed to have nearly 6 days doing ‘nothing’ over Christmas, but instead I’m looking at what I still haven’t finished for 2011, and stressing about 2012!

So, what ARE my hopes and dreams for 2012?

Anyway, this was the original plan for my post… so what do I know I have to look forward to in 2012:

I’ll probably remember more, but for now… let’s get some fresh air!!

Is it worth ‘teacher coaching’ at University?

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/667183

Is ‘teacher training’ at Higher Education level worthwhile? Well, as someone who’s in the Learning & Teaching Development Unit, clearly I think so! I completed my PGCLTHE earlier this year, and found it great to challenge my thinking on the way that I teach, and it’s changed my practice hugely. There’s plenty of comments on this story in the Times Higher Education:

Where academics were instructed on how to teach better, Dr Robson said, peer review of their lectures could be used, although this would only be right for staff that had received “long-term training”.

Dr Robson added that self-evaluation could be useful, with lecturers asked to provide examples of how their training did or did not improve their teaching.

They could also use National Student Survey scores to show improvements, she argued.

Other areas could be assessed more simply (whether staff had absorbed basic health and safety training could be ascertained using a simple questionnaire, for example). But leadership and development coaching needed something “more detailed”, Dr Robson said, such as appraisals by line managers three to sixth months after completion.

Where staff took on much more “intensive” training, scores could be given on performance, which could then be used to calculate the return on investment.

Coaching in Higher Education? Yes Please…

Corporate coaching has spread rapidly from the US across the world, with the business sector happy to buy in such support for employees they are grooming to be high flyers. The higher education sector, in contrast, would appear to offer a less obviously lucrative, and perhaps more sceptical, market. Yet coaches in the US, and to a lesser extent in the UK, are working with an increasing number of academics, helping them to confront not only the challenges they share with many other professionals (notably the sheer lack of hours in the day) but also the pressures specific to the sector.

Nathalie Houston, associate professor of English at the University of Houston, has just begun to offer coaching to academics outside her own institution. In addition to her full-time tenured job teaching and researching Victorian literature, literary theory and the history of the book, since 2009 Houston has been involved in the ProfHacker blog, where a team of more than a dozen writers offer “tips about teaching, technology and productivity”.

“I write about time management and work-life balance,” she says, “topics I’ve been interested in for a long time.”

Recognising that she often provided informal coaching to colleagues, friends and students, Houston decided to gain a formal qualification and set up a practice that she hopes to extend to about 15 clients.

She “meets” them, either for 30 minutes three times a month or 45 minutes twice a month, by phone or by Skype – mostly, she says, “on Fridays, when I don’t teach or have university meetings, and on Saturdays, so it’s compacted into a certain section of my week”.

The basic principles are simple. “While therapy tends to look to the roots of the problem, to trace it back to some dynamic or trauma,” explains Houston, “coaching is about what you can do now to change the situation.

“As one well-known coach said, if a stick in a river gets stuck, you don’t ask what made it stuck – it just needs a nudge to go on floating down the river. Coaching focuses on the nudge. It’s action-oriented, and present- and future-directed.

Read full story, and I’m ahead on this one, thanks to The Kerslake Company! We have been in discussions recently within the LTDU at the University of Winchester, re bringing together a group of people who are interested in coaching, which you can see from my PGCLTHE assignment, I am.

A great talk hosted by @psychologiesmag, with @lucyberesford and Sadie Jones, hosted by @louisechunn

Wednesday evening, I popped along from working on The Big Bible Project, to check out the first event of its kind held by Psychologies Magazine.  Aside from snapping my calf muscle en route (2nd time in 2 weeks), I turned up in time for wine (sure it’s a great pain killer!), and had a chance to chat to some of the team from Psychologies mag – always nice to know more about the people who are writing what you’re reading! I’ve got every edition of Psychologies, although I’ve not necessarily read them all (yet!), and it was great at the end of the event to chat to some more of the team, and there may be an opportunity to write some materials! So, I guess… watch this space… I guess it depends how much I procrastinate about it :-)

I would go to the bottom of these images and read up…:

Top 10 tips to beat fatigue (well, I’d call it 5… I should try some!)

Essential advice on how to avoid tiredness

How do you beat fatigue? We’ve all been there: those days when you wake up shattered, can barely drag yourself into work, and then struggle to keep your head off the desk. More often than not this is because you had a particularly late night which has left your body crying out for more sleep.

On the other hand, sometimes you may be getting to bed in good time, thinking you’ll get a good night’s sleep, and yet when the morning arrives you still feel like every waking thought and movement is a real effort.

So, how can you beat fatigue, regain your verve and put the spring back in your step? Simply check out the following realbuzz.com top 10 tips — which aim to help you beat fatigue and ensure you get the most of yourself and your day!

Get enough sleep
It may be stating the obvious, but to avoid tiredness you should ensure you get enough sleep! Remember that your body needs sleep in order to recharge — and staying up and watching a movie which starts at midnight isn’t going to help! If you are having any trouble sleeping, then aim to have a better sleep routine such as going to bed and getting up at the same time. You could also improve your sleeping environment by making sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and comfortable. Also, by using your bedroom for sleep alone, your body will come to associate it with sleeping rather than reading or watching TV.

Try to avoid stress
Stress is one of the most common reasons for feeling tired — so beating stress will naturally help to alleviate your tiredness. There are several ways in which to tackle stress, but the most important thing to do is identify what is causing your stress in the first place. It may be work that is the main cause of your stress — perhaps because of bad work relationships, long hours, or an unfulfilling job. If that’s the case, then look at your options about how you can improve the situation. Also, make sure you switch off from work in your leisure time, and try out some relaxation techniques such as having a massage, taking a hot bath or listening to some music.

Eat well
Your diet can have a big impact on how you feel. Without a proper, balanced diet you can start to feel a bit sluggish and are likely to become fatigued — so ensure that you eat healthy meals and at the correct times. Skipping breakfast will ensure you start your day on the wrong footing and force you to run on empty until lunchtime! Eating ‘little and often’ can work for some people, as it means that they’ve got something to sustain them rather than going for longer periods between meals — which will help them to avoid the feeling of being hungry and tired prior to their main meals. Keeping blood sugar levels stable is also important to avoid fatigue — so make sure you eat enough carbohydrates.

Avoid caffeine in the evening
While caffeine might be great for giving you a boost in the daytime, and while some people just can’t do without their early morning wake-up cuppa, by the evening time you really need to start thinking about laying off the caffeine unless you want to get a restless night’s sleep! Caffeine — contained in things such as tea, coffee, chocolate and cola drinks — can cause restlessness and sleeping difficulties, which will only add to your tiredness the next day. It may also result in you needing more caffeine to keep you going — so it’s best to try and break the cycle by cutting down on the amount of caffeine you drink.

Slow down
People frequently get in the habit of trying to do too much. The demands they are putting on themselves may leave them feel fatigued — and if there are not enough hours in the day to juggle their job, family and friends, then they may end up not getting enough sleep either. On the other hand, having a more balanced lifestyle, making some time for yourself, and learning to relax and slow down sometimes will mean you’ll be more able to function efficiently. Think about what you could change to give yourself more time for relaxation. It’s also best to have realistic expectations about what you can achieve rather than running yourself into the ground!

Taken from realbuzz.