Category Archives: Student Affairs

Productivity Ideas for Busy Managers

ProductiveOne of the difficulties for managers is how to simultaneously meet their responsibilities to 1) manage others, 2) attend seemingly endless meetings and 3) taking care of the work they must also do for themselves. In my role as Executive Director of IT, I found myself caught in the position of becoming a bottleneck for the organization in that decisions and/or tasks that don’t take more than minutes to complete were left unattended for weeks. The problem is that I was doing too many things all at the same time (time slicing) and I was distracted with technologies that should help me be more productive. I was checking my emails and at times social media every few minutes. I’m sure some of my staff were getting frustrated for having to wait on me and I was also getting frustrated at myself for not being more productive. The frustration led me to finally trying different ways to improve my productivity. For years, I resisted using productivity techniques I’ve come across thinking I don’t need them. However, through a combination of a change in mindset, technology, and techniques I’ve found noticeable improvements in my productivity. Below is a list of these proven ideas you could consider.

1) Mindset. Focus on one task at a time. I used to think I could “multi-task” but from multiple articles/books I’ve read, what I was actually doing is time slicing, and the time to transition from doing one task to another is costly. Specifically, the cost of getting back to the the original task once distracted is an average of 25 minutes.

2) Use time blocking. I mentioned above that managers have to balance managing/delegating, attending meetings, along with “creating” which means taking care of their own tasks. In my case, “creating” means taking care of HR actions, budgeting, or thinking about strategies. Too often, the time for “creating” are short times between meetings resulting in low quality and incomplete tasks. The solution to this problem is to block out times in your schedules so you can have continuous hours of time dedicated to “creating”. In my case, I’ve blocked my morning hours (8-12) for these times and the other parts of the day for other tasks. That’s impossible you might say. I thought the same thing, but while it hasn’t been perfect, this technique has worked for me. The key is to inform your staff and others you deal with of your intention so they don’t schedule these blocked out times. There’s also a transition period to implement this. While these contiguous hours may not be available in the next few weeks for you since meetings have already been booked, you can schedule these time blocks starting two to three months from now.

3) Pomodoro technique. This is a time management technique aimed to promote maximum focus and energy by concentrating on one task for 25 minutes. Using my iphone, I set the timer for 25 minutes and I aim to work on the one task I’ve defined to complete within that time span. This means I don’t check my emails, browse through social media, or tend to distractions.

4) Manage your energy, not time. I’m a late night and morning person. This means that my energy is highest in those times of the day. in the past, I had a habit of going through my emails and taking care of “little things” to start my day, but the problem is that I could have been using my peak energy during those times to tackle task requiring high energy and focus. Given that I’m a morning person, this is the reason why I’ve dedicated my “creating” time blocks from 8 am – noon. I then try to spend my afternoons meeting with my staff and other tasks.

The techniques I’ve mentioned above are fairly new to me but I’ve found the results to be encouraging which has led me to focusing on other ways I can be more productive. It requires a different mindset and employing time management techniques that work for you.

Let me know other ways you’ve improved your productivity at work! If you’re to try the ideas I shared above, let me know as well if they did work for you.

Image credit: http://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2014/11/Productive.jpg

Identity is In the Eye of the Beholder

identityIdentity is relative based on perspectives. I’ve come to recognize that how I view myself, all the different components of my identity, may not be the same as how others view me. I view my racial identity as an Asian-American to be the most salient part of my identities.  In my mind, my experience in the United States, through the marginalization and the struggles I’ve faced since my family and I immigrated to this country have been shaped because of my racial identity and my physical features. While I have primarily defined my identity as one who belongs to a historically marginalized group, what I have come to realize is that others may not see me as that. In fact, I’ve been reminded that as a male in the position I hold at the university, I am seen as a person of privilege. For others, I’m seen through the lens of gender, organizational position, etc. beyond race and these lenses are relative to the other person’s perspectives.

I ‘ve been thinking about this notion that while I may feel oppressed in some ways, I also carry privileges because of certain aspects of my identity. I was reminded by a student recently of the privileges I/we carry as university staff (and even students) relative to those who live in their hometown (inner city). This student reminded me that while we do have our own struggles we are fighting for, sometimes we live in a bubble and forget the struggles of folks like those who live beyond the confines of the university must go through. This student reminded me that their family is currently homeless and they must move from time to time depending on which friends and families are willing and able to house them.

Taking the time to understand other folks’ perspectives and their struggles is one of the efforts I’ve always tried to do since I can remember but at times, I fall into the trap of just thinking about the issues I face without realizing that while in some ways I have been marginalized, I also carry privileges I must be conscious of.

Can you relate with my experience? How do you define your identity and how do you think others view you?

image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/identity-mask-disguise-mindset-510866/

ACPA/NASPA Technology Competency for Professional Development

The  technology competency in the latest ACPA/NASPA Professional Competencies(2015) and the corresponding rubric provide student affairs practitioners and administrators guidance on how to effectively learn and apply technology in their roles as educators and programmers for student success. In addition, the two documents are also useful to the same groups when it comes to self-directed and formal professional development.

In my role as student affairs IT director, educator, and student affairs administrator, I was very interested with the technology competency when it became available and how it could be applied to my organization and for my personal learning. I’ve offered my thoughts in this blog post.

I found the competency and the rubric to be useful for the following reasons:

1) I’m able to identify areas I need to pursue. For example, most of my experiential learning and training have been mostly on “technical tools and software” and “data use and compliance” so when I planned my schedule for the NASPA national conference in San Antonio next week (March 10-15), I purposely planned my schedule to attend sessions on “digital identity and citizenship” and “online learning environments”.

2) As I defined areas I need further development, I began to explore other methods of learning. For example, most of my education when it comes to technology the last three years have been through my job and also through kindle books. This year, I discovered Lynda.com videos and I have completed seven courses in data governance and security.

3) The techniques and mindset I have developed through the technology competency have also led me to applying them in other development areas beyond technology. Just recently, I completed a 10 course series on people management certification via the University of California online learning system.

4) Given the lessons learned from my experience in applying the competency and rubric, I am in the process of developing a training curriculum for our division of student affairs based on the competency and rubric with the support of our Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.  My hope is that by next year’s NASPA conference, we would have implemented the curriculum and present our experience so other student affairs practitioners and administrators may consider using the competency for theirs institutions as well.

Dr. Josie Ahlquist, and I presented via webinar (Infusing The New Student Affairs Technology Competency Into Practice) last month, on how the competency could be applied in graduate programs, student affairs organizations, and for professional development. Part of the presentation focused on the use of the competency for professional development. I offered how I have used and how I plan on using the competency and the rubric to guide my learning. Using Excel, I created a template that lists learning activities, when I would pursue them, the format, and which areas of the technology competency rubrics these activities fulfill. The template also provides a link to the rubric.

Attached is the Excel file I developed and please feel free to modify them for your use. Click on the image to download the file.

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I look forward to how other institutions and student affairs professionals apply the competency and rubric. If you or your institution have used these tools, I would love to learn more about them.

Conquering My Fear of Public Speaking

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Presentation for graduate students on digital reputation at the Beyond Academic conference at UCSB. [photo courtesy of Don Lubach]

Do you have a fear of public speaking? Do you get anxious and nervous days and even weeks before you’re to speak? I certainly was for most of my life. When I was in elementary school, I pretended to be sick during the days of oral book reports. Throughout high school I dreaded speaking in front of the class and one of the most painful three months or so of my life was when I was informed I had to speak at our graduation ceremony in front of a couple of thousands of people because I was the class Salutatorian. The prospect of doing the speech terrified me. Instead of enjoying the graduation ceremony and the months leading up to it, I was very anxious. In college, I had similar experiences. I still remember one particular year how terrified I was days leading up to when I had to speak in front of about 800 or so people at our campus, in front of parents and friends, at our annual show for the Filipino-American student organization.

Throughout my professional career, I felt hampered by my fear of public speaking until I decided to make a conscious effort to finally conquer it about three years ago. I felt as I had some good perspectives/ideas to share but I did not have the confidence to share them. Using the steps I share below, I’ve been able to enjoy public speaking and I now look forward to them. In the last four years, I have spoken and presented in several public settings on my campus and even at a couple of professional conferences. I always dreamed of being a “keynote speaker” or doing a webinar but I never thought I would have the opportunity because of my fear. I honestly would not have imagined being able to speak comfortably in front of many people but by conquering my fear of public speaking, I have been able to realize some dreams, present with colleagues I respect, and meet new folks and develop relationships with them.

Here are some of what I did which hopefully could help you too:

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Guest presenter at a marketing course when my I couldn’t use my PowerPoint slides. It became an even better session as it became a dialogue/conversation with the class.

1) Think about the root(s) of your fear and how to overcome them. When I finally started to deeply think about what made me nervous about public speaking through the years, it always came back to the idea that as one whose first language is Ilokano (a Filipino dialect), I was scared of being made fun of because I may “FOB” (fresh off the boat) accent. I was eleven when I immigrated to the US with my family, and I remember being made fun of by other kids because of how I spoke. That impacted me psychologically and it contributed to the anxiety I felt before I spoke in public. The other fear that I had was that when I’m nervous, I had (and still do)  the tendency to speak very fast. So, the possibility of “Fobbing” and speaking really fast, especially the first couple of sentences of my speech, really terrified me. However, as I thought about my past speeches, it dawned on me that once I started speaking, I was actually okay! Once I got going, I felt comfortable. it was the first couple of sentences that really scared me. Given this knowledge, I purposely practice my introductory statements to be really slow and deliberate because I realized that if I could get through my first couple of sentences fine, I’m good with the rest of the speech or even a whole hour or two workshop. This step has saved me from days and even weeks of anxiety.

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Panelist on student affairs career development at our campus.

2) Get experience public speaking. I really made it a point to seek out opportunities to speak. When asked to do workshops on mobile, social media, and web development or about my personal experiences as a first generation minority student, I accepted them even as terrified as I was. These are areas I have expertise and comfortable talking about so the content was not a problem for me. The more I spoke about these topics, the easier the experience became for me. What really helped in my initial effort to conquer my fear is that I asked a couple of my colleagues who are very good public speakers to join me for my workshops. By doing that, I felt less vulnerable and I gained the experience in the process. They became my crutches until I was ready to do events on my own. The more I spoke, the more comfortable I became.

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Keynote speaker for an outreach program for Filipino-American high school students.

3) Develop a niche area (or areas) you can feel comfortable speaking and understand your natural style. As mentioned above, there are topics I feel comfortable talking about and the more I had the opportunity speak about them, the better I got in my presentation styles, delivery, and content. I look back at my first few PowerPoint presentations and I cringe at the amount of text I had per slide! I was using the slides as my crutches because I did not feel comfortable talking without reading what’s on the slides. Nowadays, I’ve come to rely more on the slides to augment/enhance my points through visuals and short text snippets. The slides are now intended for the audience rather than for me. There was actually one time when I was a guest speaker for a marketing course and I had my PowerPoint presentation ready but because the instructor could not login to the computer, I spoke for about an hour without slides. It was actually one of my best presentations because it was conversational and free-flowing. With regards to style, I came to realize that I felt most comfortable and effective when I walked around and not behind a podium. I feel most comfortable when I felt as if the presentation was a conversation and not a monologue. I’ve developed a cadence in how I speak and how I move around when speaking. Engaging with the audience has become one of my habits when speaking.

There are additional steps I’ve learned along the process of conquering public speaking, but three advice above have been the most helpful for me. Try them out and go share your ideas to the world!

 

Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG)

dream_bigSetting big dreams is fun, isn’t it? My wife and I commute to work together and there are days when we talk about all the possibilities ahead of us. We figure it doesn’t cost us anything and if we’re going to dream anyway, we’ll dream big beyond our imaginations and beyond our realities as we see them now.

Personally, thee last few months have proven to be fruitful so far. Some of what I consider Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) have come/or in the process of becoming realities. BHAG is a term I came across from the book called “Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by Jim Collins. The idea behind BHAG in this book is that visionary companies used bold and daunting missions to stimulate progress. I just recently read the book so I didn’t know this term even existed but it seems the goals I had set for myself would qualify as BHAGs. They may not be audacious goals for other folks, but these goals certainly are for me.

These personal BHAGs may not have been in the form I originally envisioned them to be, but nevertheless, they’re close to what I had in mind. In addition, some of these goals are personally scary for me. I figured I will just have to conquer my fears as I come across them. Another important note – these goals needed the help of other folks to make them happen! Without folks who believed in me and the ideas themselves, they would have never happened.

Here are some of my BHAGs that have become realities:

SA_Exec_TeamA seat at the Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAO) table in my role as IT Director.  I became a member of my campus’ Student Affairs Executive Team in December. In this blog post, Case for Technology Leadership at the SSAO Table, I wrote about the values of having someone in a senior technology management role at the table who can bring technical expertise and perspective as strategic decisions are made.

A campus-wide IT leadership/management professional development program. With the support of our new CIO Matt Hall, we have begun planning for a campus-wide program to promote community-building as well as leadership/mgmt and technical training for IT professionals. Along with our CIO, we have a team consisting of IT Directors as well as HR managers that’s in the process of formulating our goals and program activities. This is an idea I had proposed on this blog post – Cohort-Based IT Leadership Program for Higher Education.

NASPA Technology Knowledge Community (TKC) Chair. This is a position that seemed out of reach for me and one that I may not be qualified for, given the significance and scope of the TKC. However, as mentioned in this post (Sharing Our Vision at #NASPA16: Updates from the TKC Chair), I think I can contribute to advancing technology in student affairs by broadening the scope of conversation and those involved in the discussions through the chair position.  With the help of an amazing team, the community members, and the current chair, Lisa Endersby, I can’t wait to see what we’ll do in the next couple of years!

A webcast on student affairs and technology. A couple of weeks ago, the opportunity to do a webcast finally happened with the webcast “What AVPS and Mid-Level Professionals Need to Know About Technology” with Eric Stoller and Stephanie Gordon. It was a challenge for me given that I am not always sure of how much I know about the topic and how I may come across on a live discussion when folks are watching from all places.

joe_before_afterLose 45 pounds in 10 months. Never in my wildest dream would I ever thought I’d accomplish this. After all, I’ve tried in the past to lose weight, but for various reasons, I just couldn’t make it happen. Here is a blog post, How I lost 20 Pounds in 3 Months, of what I found to work (written three months after I started the weight loss attempt).

 

 

As I had mentioned, my wife and I have a list of BHAGs and those shall remain a secret to us and who knows if they’ll ever come to fruition. It is fun though to work towards them and to think about the possibilities. Professionally, I see the next three years as potentially significant for me. With a mixture of luck, preparation, and with the help of many folks – I do hope they’ll happen.

What are you BHAGs?

Photo of goldfish with shark fin courtesy of: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CZwxYtFWwAIclAj.jpg