Tag Archives: technology

Sync You Later

Winter Break | New Faculty

I live in the clouds. Several of them. Dropbox, iCloud, and Google Drive to name a few. My photos, music, work files, instagram pics, personal files, and everything that exists in my life is in a cloud. I can see it anytime, anywhere, on almost any device that I own/use on a regular basis. They save me time, confusion, and I often find myself telling others they should also use such services. I’ll also take a moment to give a shout-out to Evernote since it also syncs on all of my devices and I keep everything from ‘work to-do’ to ‘groceries’ lists in Evernote. Again, no matter what device I’m on, I can log on and find out if I need eggs….or when the newest RFP is due….

I read an article on syncing your work and personal life and found it to be things I was already doing (which was exciting for me). Being organized and deliberate while trying to sync work and home can be a real challenge.  “As the lines between business and personal lives are shifting, the cloud has emerged as a key tool to keep people productive and organized. The ‘personal cloud’ is evolving to an ‘all-purpose cloud’ that helps us manage our entire lives. “Getting in sync” will soon become an everyday life action and expression, with a technical meaning that everyone understands and automatically uses.”

I am proud to say that I already do sync my life and make a conscious effort to ‘un-sync’ from time-to-time as well. As I get ready to enjoy a little down time, slow down, and travel, I will rely on my clouds to keep me in order. As we panic, grade, and cram the last few weeks of work in for this Fall semester, you may think about a cloud service to help you stay organized for the new year. I use clouds to keep my students organized, the teachers I do professional development with, and all of the faculty that I collaborate with. I even used Dropbox with my mom to edit some photos since she doesn’t have the ‘almight & powerful photoshop’ on her desktop. If you’re in with the cloud, you’ll find they’re very safe, secure, and unbelievably convenient. 🙂 <—my first smile face on the faculty blog…..

What’s your ‘go-to’ app or cloud that helps you be more efficient in your work or SANE in your personal life?

Happy Holidays to each of you and I’ll be back after some much needed break time!

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Turning Off the Turmoil

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I have a friend who is recently single. Her husband woke her up on a Saturday morning to let her know he was unhappy and he moved out. Their break up has been done over social media, email, texts, and rarely ever in person. My friend proclaimed to me a few days ago that she “f*^g hated facebook and her phone.” I told her to shut that crap down. Immediately. I recommended that she not respond to her soon-to-be-ex unless he wants to man up and she needed to woman up and confront the situation in order to end it.

As professionals and human beings, we NEED to separate ourselves from the devices we’ve become accustom to having. A friend and I ran a 5k this fall. I run intervals and she said she would try to run a little bit. She ended up checking her phone the whole time. I had jogged ahead of her and turned around to check on her only to see her looking at her phone. I was pissed. I screamed, “get off your god damned phone and live the life that’s right in front of you!!!! i’m right here, look at all these people running with us, whatever is in that phone can wait 45 minutes.” She didn’t get off her phone, I ran the course and waited another 30 min. for her to finish. Miraculously she crossed the finish line without her phone in her hand but in her pocket.

Social media, email, and everything technology related can be hard to stomach. The spoken word is so powerful and the range of other non-verbal cues that come with it are far more important than the message itself sometimes. As someone who researches facial cues and non-verbal behaviors, I can say with some amount of certainty that these cues drive us. A flat facebook message or email does not get across any of the truly important aspects related to the communication: the human connection. Email is great for business, for seeing how the kids are, for confirming flights, and scheduling meetings but rarely is it a great medium for someone’s joy, laughter, tears, heartache, or range of motions in between. Facebook is wonderful for sharing photos, puppies, babies, more babies, and your latest life experience but the only true way to connect is to communicate. Emoticons help but are less than two dimensional.

As our semester winds down and we begin to feel the emotional onslaught that comes with the end of a term, I urge you to check in with yourself and turn off your devices. Take a two hour break during the middle of the day. Stop working before the sun goes down and get some vitamin D. Stop pushing your emails, facebook notifications, and everything in between. Turn off the turmoil in your life and turn on the relationships you have with the people sitting in front of you. Your heart will thank you. Besides, you can always check out everyone’s Thanksgiving feasts later and black friday deals next week.

Your online addiction may be adversely affecting your life more than you think. I enjoyed the tidbits this article provided and have made my own steps to calm down my technology use to balance home time and work time. I do enjoy reading books on my iPad and playing Angry Birds, but have learned to turn off notifications and sounds when I’m busy, even if busy is watching TV or when I’m with friends, enjoying what I’m doing, and avoiding my digital life. After reading the HBR article about online addictions, I took my own stock and reflected on what I did and didn’t do. Here’s what I do:

  • I turn off my ringer in the mornings when I work. I work best during this time and do not want to be disturbed by texts or calls.
  • I continue to carry a good notebook with me for meetings. If my mind wanders and my laptop or iPad is open, I’ll stop paying attention to the meeting.
  • I break up my days with exercise when I can. Working out in the middle of the day helps re-energize me for the long afternoons. It doesn’t happen every day but I take advantage of it when it does.

This is what I can always work on:

  • Impulsively checking. Ugh. Sometimes I catch myself doing it and then I think, “stop it, it’s the weekend/night/not email time.”
  • Setting aside time to check in with myself and write. My writing/research writing efforts need to be amped up. I can’t help but admit that technology hinders that productivity and focus.
  • Stop letting Pavlovian pull suck me in. Must. Stop.

I’ll keep working on it if you will. As a new faculty, it can be tough to balance all of your job responsibilities and your real life.

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why i use social media as a new faculty

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I dig social media.  Not just as a new faculty, but as a human in general.  How else can we keep up with jobs, marriages, bad life decisions that ended up on someone’s smart phone, sonograms, videos of puppies stuck in boxes, Halloween costumes that would have been better left from our memories, pictures of meals that are unrecognizable in dim light, your fungus in your big toe, the person who posts over 30 things a day on kittens, and 100 photos of your kid at the beach crying the whole time because they hate the water?

All jokes aside, social media is a fantastic tool that new faculty should learn to embrace.  And yes, I am guilty of posting a lot of stuff from time to time (or regularly depending on who is my social media friend/connection). Do you literally have to hug it every time you open Facebook?  No.  But the ability to keep up with friends, colleagues, and family members, not to mention students, current events, local events where you live, restaurant reviews, conferences, and other professional work is also important.  I consider myself an ‘early adopter’ so it’s easy for me to log on to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, my email(s), Pinterest, and WordPress all at the same time to keep up with what’s hip.  Is it always about work?  Another no. Does it consume me when I know that it shouldn’t. Yes.  I wholeheartedly admit it and juts like any technology, discipline is required.

Social media can be a valuable tool for a professional.  I like to see what my colleagues are doing, what they’re highlighting, what’s important to them.  I understand that once I put something on the Internet, it’s open to public scrutiny and while I try to keep things pretty light, I find a lot of things in this world pretty humorous that others may not.  Not everyone agrees with me and that’s usually ok because I take it with a grain of salt.  Some days, the grains are much larger or smaller than others, but nonetheless, it’s always meant in good fun. All in all, it’s a great way to learn what others interests are.  It’s a great way to open a conversation, prompt students in class, find talking points with colleagues, or just share things in general. Perhaps you need to do a little recon work on potential students–head to the Internet and find what you need.  Will it cast a shadow on someone?  I sure hope not, but as the information age matures and we move from Web 2.0 to 3.0, it’s important not to shun social media from your daily, weekly, or regular repertoire.  Some might think it’s the last thing a new faculty has time for but I argue that you SHOULD make time for it. Simply “liking” a Facebook status shows that you are paying attention, reading, consuming, and producing other content.

Taking the time to subscribe to some regular feeds via rss or email can be valuable.  As someone in STEM and education, I subscribe to a few daily emails that I actually take the time each day to read.  Gleaning teaching tips, facts or research are positive side effects of what social media has to offer.

As a new faculty, how do you handle social media?  What do you wish you could do with your social media that you don’t have the capability to do right now?  Maybe your idea is the ‘next big thing’ that will catapult us into Web 3.0. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

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Bringing back the busy signal-ending immediate response

Remember the “old days?”  You know, when you’d call someones house on your land line phone and the old ‘beep, beep, beep’ would come on signaling that the person you wanted was on the phone?  Ah, the busy signal.  A forced lesson in patience, slowing down, and waiting to call back.

There is no more busy signal.  Now there’s ringback tones, call waiting, email dumping at all hours of the day/night, and an endless stream of ways to communicate.  This is what I’d like to call “too much of a good thing.”  As a young faculty member, you might feel like you HAVE to answer everyone right away.  Do you need to?  NO. Do you? YES.

Want some evidence about email?  Check out this neat graphic from mashable business. 147 emails a day: that’s about right for me as well.  Long gone are the slow days of 10-20 emails on my work account, now I get around 100-150 each day.  I can also believe the 2.5 hours we spend each day reading, writing, and responding to email.  It drives me crazy because I know that with each “reply” button I hit, I’m losing valuable time doing other things.  You know what I think the root of my problem is: CONTROL.  Yep, I’ll admit it, I like being in control.  Email is something I can’t control on the intake because anyone can email me at any time.  I’m also a big call screener.  If I don’t recognize it or it’s not in my address book, I don’t answer it.  Why?  Because I’m usually answering email 😉 (I kid).  The real reason: because it’s going to suck more of my time!  Dang it! When do I answer?  If it’s my parents, my sister, PIC, or someone I needed to speak to b/c we probably emailed that we needed to talk *shakes head in shame….*

How am I fighting my addiction/love-hate relationship to set some healthy boundaries?  I’ve started turning off my email on the weekends.  Turn it off?  Why?  Because I need to unplug.  As someone who works with technology, loves it, studies it, and basically immerses herself in it–it’s just too much sometimes.  Work email gets delegated to a check in the morning on Saturday to tie up anything residual from Friday and not again until Sunday afternoon/early evening.  Do I see it? Sometimes. Do I read it if I see it?  Sometimes, depends who it’s from.  Do I answer it? Rarely.  WHY???? I need the down time.  I need the busy signal.  And as a new faculty you do too.

What else can you do?  Go through and do a clean sweep.  You know all of those listserv’s you’re subsribed too?  Dump the ones you rarely pay attention too, filter the ones you like to a folder or re-route them to a different address.  Use an RSS feed or google reader to put all of the content you like to view in one place so it’s there when you want it, not bombarding you every 25 seconds.  Your digital life is manageable, but at first, it’s so overwhelming.  Default subscriptions you like to another email account–gmail, yahoo, whatever. I have a yahoo and gmail.  Both are used regularly and help me filter what I want to look when I want to look at it.  I still even use my cornell.edu account.  It’s there for me, why not use it?

If this is too much dot. anything., then make it work for you.  By all means though: turn it off and get some time for you in there.  I cannot stress it enough.  While we always feel that urge to answer everyone and please everyone as a young faculty, there are just times when we need to put up our own busy signal.

How can you discipline yourself to do it?  Step 1. Unysnc it.  Step 2. Find a distraction or something you actually WANT to do.  I hadn’t read a book for pleasure in…….a year?  I have been reading up a storm and enjoying it.  I love bad tv. My DVR and I spend a few hours each week together, no distractions, and double bonus: no commercials.  Step 3. If people think you need to get back to them right away, set some clear guidelines.  Odds are, you’re being reasonable.  I’ve heard it 100 different ways from different people, faculty and non-faculty, about their own rules.  I tell my students that while I try to be prompt, it can be 24 hours, especially if they send things in the afternoons, when I’m off campus. My boss knows I lay low on email on weekends and  he’s fine with it.  He knows I usually browse it and if I have time, I get to it Sunday afternoon/evening.  Step 4. Still struggling?  Find someone who will help you be accountable.  My best friend from home helped me stop working so much and we set rules that on Saturday’s (barring really necessary things), we’d always do something in the afternoon, even if it was just go to lunch and order dessert or sit and watch more bad tv we both love.  I like the structure and schedule of life-too much.  Step 5. Find something else to fill your time.  Hobby time?  More reading? Outdoor?  Pretty much anything? I started blogging 🙂 -twice over…..

Like I said, discipline. I know myself well enough now to know that I need to set myself some boundaries with my electronic life. Sometimes, I need a gentle reminder to unplug and sometimes I get rewarded with something that sounds like, “wow, you went for several hours w/o checking tonight, way to go.”

Taming the electronic beast can also serve as a humbling reminder of what’s truly important.  Turn it off, enjoy some time for you and loved ones, prioritize your life.  Avoiding burnout and letting go of that “I have to please everyone all the time at all hours” mentality is tough.

What have your experiences been as a new faculty?  What can you do before your new position starts to help yourself out?  What would you share with new faculty to improve their transition?

Up next: fender benders in academia and how to handle them….

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