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Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff (Richard Carlson). 
Last semester I found myself for the first time without teaching responsibilities. My semester projects (as part of a non-instructional assignment) included crafting policy recommendations, writing a white paper on stalking in the workplace, and performing research on the nexus between bullying, organizational culture, and high performing women. Even before the semester began I found myself worrying about deadlines (how I would accomplish all of the associated work), and a myriad of minutiae that seemed to overwhelm me. As with anything, we sometimes place the big picture in front of us instead of breaking a project into manageable parts and pacing ourselves accordingly. 


Delineating a big project into bite sized chunks (using tools specifically suited for that purpose) is a great way to relieve stress, and to keep yourself on track with your goals squarely before you. In the words of Leo Baubata, “smile, breathe, and go slowly.” An anxious mind is no place for the incubation of new ideas. Chunking, planning, pacing yourself, and relaxing in between are all means to create calm within your workday, and throughout your career. Below are some ways to work more productively:  

  1. Take regular breaks. Every one to two hours, you should get up and stretch, fix a snack, or even web surf to gain a fresh perspective. Burnout is abetted by non-stop workaholism where we feel a frenzied sense of urgency to honor our Type A tendencies.
  2. Be there when you are there. Some people are able to “crank it out” because they are fully functional in the moment. If you are distracted, take care of the pressing business before you begin work. That way you can devote yourself fully to the enterprise at hand.
  3. Play soothing music. One of the best recommendations in this regard was from Sarah Ban Breachnach, author of Simple Abundance. Rosa Mystica puts my mind at ease, and creates a tranquil workspace from which to craft my projects. Other favorites include Peace, Pure Classical Calm, and The Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos.
  4. Get into the habit of being in the now. Your creativity is hampered if you continually dredge forth unhappy past incidents or grudges which you hold against other people. Abandoning negative occurrences and focusing on what you’re for increases not only your current happiness, but your ability to create a better finished product. The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle, is a great resource for priming your mind in this area.



Tolle, E. The power of now: A guide to spiritual enlightenment. Novato, CA: Namaste Publishing. 


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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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