April (2014)
February (2014)
January (2014)
December (2013)
November (2013)
Valuing Work
October (2013)
September (2013)
May (2013)
April (2013)
March (2013)
February (2013)
January (2013)
November (2012)
Learning Styles
October (2012)
Working Toward Balance
One of my favorite aspects of Twitter is the brilliant articles and links shared through a network of individuals with varied experiences. Articles that may never otherwise come into my sphere are laid before me to digest throughout the day during the slightest moment of downtime. Peter Baron, who blogs frequently for Proctor's partner Whipplehill Communications, consistently shares insightful posts that relate to our lives at Proctor Academy.

One of Baron's recently shared tweets was especially timely as Proctor's students and teachers feel the strains of a long Winter Term that is nearing completion. The blog post he shared, The Glorification of Busy, was written from a young entrepreneur's perspective as Andrew Dumont reflected on the past seven years of his professional life and the shear number of hours he put into his work as a tech developer.

Dumont writes, "Productivity is an addicting thing. Having control over how much you can achieve is extremely gratifying…But productivity poses a challenge. For me, as more time opens up, my plate gets more full. I inflate the importance of tasks that accompany those added responsibilities. My effectiveness drops, and so does my level of sanity. I finish each day exhausted, without the satisfaction of production."

Perhaps I am writing only from my own perspective, as my basketball season and classes culminate in a very hectic final two weeks of the Winter Term, but I think I can safely speak for most of the community at this time of year. Classes, study hall, extra help sessions, afternoon activities, meetings, exam preparations, advisory gatherings, dorm celebrations, art shows and performances fill our schedules to the brim. 

While we boast of the breadth of programs offered at Proctor and all that a student (or faculty member) can partake in during the academic year, we must take careful measure of just how busy we become.

I wrote a blog post on the power of slowness early in the Fall Term and perhaps we should revisit some of those suggestions once again as we find ourselves in the midst of one of the busiest times of the year. As Dumont encourages his readers, "Let's stop glorifying over-work, and start congratulating smart work. The truly brilliant people in the world are those that elegantly balance a heavy-workload and the rest of their life. They're also the most satisfied."

So how do we achieve this balance here at Proctor? How do we slow down, take time to reflect, and take time to appreciate those around you and to have conversations over lunch or dinner? How do we carve out time to exercise and relax before crashing into bed at night? How do we take time to simply 'be' in the midst of all the 'doing' we feel obligated to do?

As a college preparatory school, it is our responsibility not just to push students to new heights academically, but to help teach them how to operate at this high level while managing stress and living a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, we must make sure that we, faculty and staff, model the behavior we desire from our students by being intentional about the time we spend working, interacting with students, and the time we spend with our families.

At my father-in-laws funeral last week, I was blown away by the impact he had on university students' lives by simply being present in their lives. As one of his students shared, "Every time I had a conversation with him, I felt as though I was the only person in the world that mattered. He genuinely cared about what I had to say and that empowered me in my own beliefs." By following this example, we must check in, in earnest, with our advisees, our classes, our team, and our dorm residents to see how they are managing the busyness in their lives. And when we ask them how they are doing, we must be willing to stop what we are doing, and truly hear their answer.

In order for Proctor to operate effectively, students and faculty must work hard. There is no way around this fact. But we have the opportunity here to both work hard, and work smart; to not glorify busyness, but to glorify intentionality. We must continue to value the relationships that undergird an academic environment that encourages its students to work incredibly hard and smart.
Final exams are upon us, but we must not let the busyness of the end of the term rule our lives.
Proctor is a complex organization, one that requires everyone associated to work hard - students included.
The key for everyone, however, is to ensure that we are not only working hard, but working smart. This occurs when we are intentional about what we are doing and how we are doing it.
While society may glorify busyness as a necessary aspect of productivity, it is when we find balance in our lives that we have the greatest impact on those around us.