Why you should write a private and public purpose statement for your book

purposeBy taking some time to really think through the purpose and scope of your book project and why you are really doing it, you will not only be happier with the process and product, but when you are ready to start writing, you’ll be more successful, says faculty and productivity coach Susan Robison, author of The Peak Performing Professor: A Practical Guide to Productivity and Happiness.

Start by writing a private purpose statement that spells out your reason for writing the book and that will guide you on a day-to-day basis, she says. Your private purpose statement might be something like, “I want to declare my expertise in… [fill in the blank].”

[Read more…]

PODCAST: TAA webinar, ‘How to Write a Book When You Don’t Like to Write’

Susan RobisonMany academic book authors love writing while others want to write but are reluctant about the writing process, the work load, and the sacrifice. Susan Robison, a self-professed reluctant author, addresses those issues and other practical topics such as defining the purpose and scope of the project, managing the tasks and the time during the writing, improving your writing as you go, and when to ask for help, in this recorded webinar now available on the TAA website. [Read more…]

Robison publishes new book on work-life balance

Peak Performing ProfessorTAA member Susan Robison, a former professor of psychology and department chair at the Notre Dame of Maryland University, has published a new book, The Peak Performing Professor (Jossey-Bass, 2013). The book assists faculty in developing essential skills to enhance peak performance and experience more work-life balance.

Manage your writing goals with ‘Pyramid of Power’

Susan Robison

Psychologist and author Susan Robison (right in blue jacket), attracted a full group for her Roundtable Discussion expanding on her earlier session, “Time Management: Why You Don’t Need It, Can’t Do It Anyway — And What To Do Instead.”

To help her clients focus on important tasks instead of wandering from task to task, Susan Robison, a psychologist and faculty development consultant with Professor DeStressor, created the “Pyramid of Power” — a pyramid-shaped goal-setting model.

“I chose the pyramid for the design of my model because that is the most stable structure you can construct,” she said. “It has a wide base and a narrow top, with your goals at the top. The model can work top down and bottom up.” [Read more…]

Don’t manage time, manage goals

Susan Robison

Susan Robison instructing conference attendees on how to manage their workload, not their time, to complete tasks.

While you can’t actually manage time – because it operates independently of you — you can manage your goals, said Susan Robison, a psychologist and faculty development consultant with Professor DeStressor, during her 2009 TAA Conference session, “Time Management: Why You Don’t Need It, Can’t Do It Anyway – And What To Do Instead.”

“One of the things that the research on time management workshops show, is that they don’t work,” she said. “What happens to people emotionally is they come out of the workshops feeling absolutely overwhelmed by a thousand techniques they’re not going to do, and so they’re not going to manage their time any better.”

If you find that you don’t have enough time to do everything on your to do-list, said Robison, you may have too many goals: “What you really need to get under control are those goals. Learn to manage the control of the tasks or goals and how to sequence them, what to do, when to do it, and so on and so forth. Those are things you can control.”

Robison shares five things you can do to begin managing your goals:

  1. Anchor your tasks to a sense of meaning and purpose. “No more trivial tasks unless those trivial tasks are in support of things you are deeply, deeply moved by and want to do with your lives,” she said.
  2. Prioritize which tasks are worthy of your resources of time, talent, energy, and attention. “Although there are tasks we all have to do because they support what we want to do — such as filing your grades from the last semester — you should be spending most of your time doing things you choose to do and that are fun to do,” she said. “Develop a Dream Book or Wall to keep all of your goals parked so that you can pick and choose which ones get your attention and other resources. Procrastinate creatively so you can make time, energy, and space for professional activities, including research and writing. Plan backward and estimate time-to-completion more accurately.”
  3. Allocate tasks across units of time. Use tracking sheets to keep track of all your goals, not just writing, and apply the “strive for nine-or less rule” so that your to-do lists are realistic and achievable. “Here’s how the strive for nine-or-less rule works: You choose to do nine things a day. You decide which nine things by choosing three things that move your vision forward, three things that avert disaster (pay your bills, show up at a meeting your dean is going to be at), and three things you’re going to do to take care of yourself (your bedtime, your exercise routine, and what you’re going to eat, etc.). If you finish all nine of them, you get to start on tomorrow’s list. If your to-do list is all of the things you choose to do that day, you will get all of them done. I guarantee it.” Use the “focused 15” to develop work habits that lead to flow, engagement, and fun. Do this by making sure that each of the nine tasks are 15-minute segments of your important goals.
  4. Accounting for the results of the allocation. “Your accountability to yourself includes your tracking sheets, Dream Book, and Strive for Nine,” she said. “Your accountability to others includes finding a buddy to work with, a ‘Mastermind group’ (a whole group that reciprocally helps each other), or a Coach (a non-reciprocal relationship — someone who helps you either informally or someone you hire formally).”
  5. Build and broaden your resilience and happiness while you do the above things. “Resilience is your ability to handle stress,” she said. “If you don’t build in some credits, when the debits come along, you’re depleted. Some people live right at the edge of their threshold, and when something comes along, they flip out. The key to doing stress better is to actually purposely choose to stress yourself in ‘choiceful’ ways, so you can build your capacity for stress.”