As I've written about previously, I am writing a book this summer. It's my first book. I've written a dissertation, before, and there are certainly parallels. But, it's my first time having such a strict timeline to get it done, and to have my work be a part of a series of books.
Our academic year is over, and I'm officially into summer. While I find such joy in teaching, it is always a relief to have a break and be renewed for the next season of teaching.
In my process of conducting a monthly review, I always select a theme for the coming month. In May, it was writing. For June, I had also selected writing.
However, I am reconsidering.
As overused as the concept is, I'm starting to think that my theme should be balance. Yes, I need to write a book. And I want to write a book. But, I also realize this is a precious season for our children and I am fortunate to be able to spend a bit more time with them during the summer than I can during the academic year.
I write all of this to explain why I am working at not feeling guilty when I get distracted by something fun. I don't have to be constantly focused in order to achieve my goals for this season. The pace of my days doesn't have to be as relentless as it can often be during the academic year.
To that end, here are some wonderful distractions I've been experiencing in recent weeks. When I wasn't writing, of course…
Doodling for Academics
All the way back on Episode 17, Janine Utell recommended a wonderful book called a Dear Committee Members: A Novel, by Julie Schumacher. I devoured it right away and have since bought copies for multiple colleagues who I thought could use a more humorous look at parts of our work.
It made me all that much more excited that the author was coming out with an adult coloring book. Doodling for Academics: A Coloring and Activity Book allows Julie Schumacher to continue to keep us laughing and not taking ourselves too seriously. My mom bought me a copy and I have been enjoying leafing through the pages and chuckling over the common dysfunctional ways of our own institutions and of higher ed, in general.
HubSpot’s HTML Email Signature Creator
Another recent find involves less laughter and more beautiful design. I found HubSpot, a website that allows you to build a gorgeous HTML signature for your email for free. There are some paid services that do this for you, but I'm reluctant to pay a monthly subscription fee for something like this.
I wanted a signature that could live inside my email client and not on someone else's servers. One of the important questions to ask whenever something is supposedly free, is what am I giving up and exchange for this benefit I'm looking to receive.
I was asked to give up some demographic information and my email address in exchange for my new signatures. The company sells website and marketing services and I know I am potentially going to be marketed to in the future. They have sent one email over the course of the last few days with a link to a white paper. They do provide an easy way to unsubscribe from their emails and seem to comply with the Can-Spam Act properly.
If you have some basic HTML skills, you can make modifications to their code in your email client. In fact, you may be able to achieve the desired result us by typing directly in to the signatures text editor of your email client, after you copy and paste your signature.
Using a Different Email Client: In My Case – AirMail 3
When it comes to email, most people either stick with whatever email client their institution uses (such as Microsoft Outlook), or whichever one is the default on their computer (such as mail, on the Mac).
After listening to Katie Floyd and David Sparks talk about alternatives to email clients on Episode #303 of the Mac Power Users, I decided to finally take the plunge. I read a lot of articles, and finally landed on that using Airmail on both my Mac and on my iOS devices.
Forbes’ Anthony Karcz makes the case for why Mac users should consider using Airmail 3 as our email client of choice. I’ve been delighted at the gorgeous user interface and some of the small touches, like being able to send an email later (only works on certain email services, like gmail or Office 365), and the integration with my task manager of choice: OmniFocus.
NPR's Wow in the World Podcast
Dave (my husband) and I frequently joke that our kids are going to grow up thinking that every adult in the world has a podcast.
- Daddy has Coaching for Leaders…
- Mommy has Teaching in Higher Ed…
- Mrs. Sandie has Ending Human Trafficking…
- Mr. Stephen has Stephen Explains the News…
While the kids do get to listen to their fair share of music in the car, until now, they never knew of the existence of a kid-oriented podcast.
NPR launched their Wow in the World podcast about a month ago. It is entertaining for kids and adults and is a big hit for our family. They describe Wow in the world as:
…a new way for families to connect, look up and discover the wonders in the world around them. Every episode, hosts Mindy and Guy guide curious kids and their grown-ups away from their screens and on a journey. Through a combination of careful scientific research and fun, we'll go inside our brains, out into space, and deep into the coolest new stories in science and technology.” -NPR
Here is our son’s review of the Wow in the World podcast, in his own words:
What have been some fruitful distractions for you, as we head into summer?