Tag Archives: Books

How to Get Away: Finding Balance in Our Overworked, Overcrowded, Always-On World (book review)

There is much ongoing discussion in Student Affairs regarding wellness and self-care. However, it is rarely discussed comprehensively and, in most cases, ends up being lip service when actually applied to our day-to-day professional lives. A great book to help with this discussion is How to Get Away: Finding Balance in Our Overworked, Overcrowded, Always-On World by Jon Staff and Pete Davis. They are both are the founders of Getaway, which is a company that designs and rents small cabins in the woods for personal relaxation and rejuvenation.

The book has 186 pages of content (not including appendices, etc.) and is divided into three sections or “virtues” as referred to in the book: Balancing Technology & Disconnection; Balancing City & Nature; and Balancing Work & Leisure.

The first section explores the current problems we face with using technology as much as we do and some suggestions for how to disconnect without completely going off-the-grid.

Virtue I – Balancing Technology & Disconnection

  1. Technological Overload is a Problem
  2. Technology is Hurting Our Relationships
  3. Technology is Hurting Our Work
  4. Technology is Hurting Our Memory
  5. Technology is Hurting Our Health
  6. Do a Digital Detox
  7. Audit Your Tech Use
  8. Dumb Down Your Phone
  9. Carve Out Space for Disconnection
  10. You Are Not Alone

The second section expands upon the first section and offers lessons from historical figures, such as Henry David Thoreau and Margaret Murie, as well as modern examples of individuals who have found the importance of purposefully including nature in our lives. There is also a look into how we can more effectively balance our urban lives with the ability to be outside more and why that is so important.

Virtue II – Balancing City & Nature 

  1. We Are Experiencing Massive Urbanization
  2. We Aren’t Going Outside
  3. Nature is Good for Our Bodies and Minds
  4. Nature is Good for Kids
  5. Nature is Good for Our Neighborhoods
  6. Join a Community Garden
  7. Take a Forest Bath
  8. Ask Your Doctor about Park Prescriptions
  9. Participate in Cabin Culture
  10. Reimagine Cities

The final section explores how we can and should balance both work and leisure. Particularly for those of us in the United States, we are working more than ever. This is clearly taking a toll on our lives in many unproductive and unhealthy ways. This section I found to be the most salient for the Student Affairs arena given the ever increasing demands and pressures that we face every day with our work.

Virtue III – Balancing Work & Leisure

  1. The 40-Hour Workweek We Fought for Is Eroding
  2. We Are a No-Vacation Nation
  3. We Are Part of the “Cult of Busy”
  4. Breaks Are Key to Creativity
  5. We Don’t Spend Enough Time Being Bored
  6. Vacation really Works, and We Need More Of It.
  7. We Are Experiencing The Great Spillover
  8. We Should Experiment With 4-Day Workweeks
  9. Hygge Can Help Us Learn to Slow Down
  10. We Can Practice Holy Leisure

I found How to Get Away: Finding Balance in Our Overworked, Overcrowded, Always-On World by Jon Staff and Pete Davis to be an interesting and very practical read. It was also a good personal reminder that I need to do a better job at consciously slowing down and doing my best to avoid the “FOMO” (i.e., Fear of missing out) ethos that can very much plague Student Affairs professionals. The book can serve as a great resource for staff professional development discussions as well as a way for supervisors to symbolically (and strategically) communicate to their employees that slowing down does matter.

We cannot serve our students and employees fully if we are constantly on the go and not taking care of our own wellness. Furthermore, this would be an excellent resource to share and discuss with students, particularly those in First Year Seminar or First Year Experience (FYE) courses and programs, as we continue to see anxiety and depression on the rise within our student populations. The book offers many suggestions and strategies that could be easily explored with our students.

Thanks to Jon and Pete for writing a wonderful book!

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We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter (book review)

Now more than ever, the ability to have honest and impactful conversations is a critical skill everyone needs to have. We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter by Celeste Headlee is an excellent book for those looking to improve their conversation and listening skills while fostering relationships and solving problems through the process. In the book she shares personal stories of success and failure along with lessons learned from others about the importance of being able to communicate effectively through conversation. Celeste is currently the host of a daily news program on Georgia Public Broadcasting and shares from her wealth of experience interviewing people on the radio.

The book is divided into two sections: the first part illustrates a contextual basis for the problems we often encounter by having poor conversational (and listening) skills while the second part focuses on direct solutions and sound advice:

Part I

1. Conversation is a Survival Skill
2. Communication and Conversation are Not the Same
3. You Can’t Outsmart a Bad Conversation
4. Set the Stage
5. Some Conversations are Harder than Others

Part II

6. Be There or Go Elsewhere
7. It’s Not the Same!
8. Get Off the Soapbox
9. Keep it Short
10. No Repeats
11. That’s a Great Question
12. You Can’t Know Everything
13. Stay Out of the Weeds
14. Travel Together
15. Listen!
16. Sometimes We Shouldn’t Talk

While I’m a practicing scholar at heart and love research, I do, however, appreciate books that are practical, a quick read, and can be easily applied for the professional development of both staff and students. This is definitely one of those books. With the introduction, the book is 252 pages of content and can be easily read over the course of three or four sittings. This book would serve as an excellent resource for the basis of a student programming series (i.e., leadership, career services, etc.), a great “Lunch and Learn” or professional development discussion for staff meetings, and to potentially frame supervisory one-on-ones among your team’s managers and employees. I highly recommend it to you and encourage you to share how you have used the book in your work in the comments below.

140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form (book review)

In 2009, one of the founders of Twitter, Dom Sagolla (@Dom), wrote the book 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form. This is a fun little read that not only has a sense of humor, but is also practical for those who are new to or are veterans of the Twitterverse.

The book is broken up in five parts (Lead, Value, Master, Evolve, and Accelerate) and 19 separate chapters. The titles of the chapters serve as snippets of advice themselves and is a nod to Strunk and White’s Elements of Style (you may remember this from high school or college composition or English). Here are a few examples:

  • Simplify: Say More with Less
  • Avoid: Don’t Become a Fable about Too Much Information
  • Reach: Understand Your Audience
  • Mention: Stamp Your Own Currency
  • Open: Give and You Shall Receive
  • Increase: Do More
  • Fragment: Do It Smaller

As is the case with many of the “self-help” Twitter books that I have read, 140 Characters comes complete with a short history of the founding of Twitter, practical tips, and recommended individuals to follow.

This is a nice resource for both professors and student affairs professionals alike. It is a short read (179 pages) that can be completed in one sitting and applied to various student learning applications, such as networking (career services), composition and writing (English / poetry / creative writing) and communication skills (leadership development / Greek Life / Residence Life / clubs & organizations).

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Career & Leadership Resource: “Business Fitness” (Book Review)

Recently I made the acquaintance of a business blogger on Twitter (@businessfit) who offers remarkable content related to business development, leadership, organizational development, and employee supervision. She shared a book with me that she had published called Business Fitness.

Business Fitness is written by Dawn Lennon, an expert in organizational development and business coaching. Lennon defines being “business fit” by “developing intellectual strength and steady nerves so that you are positioned to handle any circumstances at anytime, anywhere” (p. 7). The book is divided into four parts: Business Fitness, Private Moves, Public Moves, and Lifelong Success. Each chapter comes complete with thought-provoking “do-it-yourself” inventories to complete to help you on the way to better define personal and professional goals related to career moves and entrepreneurship.

Business Fitness is written in a format in the conversational style of a thoughtful coach. It captures the essence of John Maxwell’s leadership and teamwork books. Although the book is is geared toward entrepreneurs, it is also appropriate for goal-minded achievers and leaders of all types. While the book does not illustrate how to incorporate a business or other operational means by which to run a business (i.e., taxes, insurance, etc.), it does coach the reader how to prepare to become a leader within your chosen career. The book is rife with inspirational quotes throughout each chapter and also includes stories of success and shortcomings of individuals to illustrate the ideas taught.

I recommend Business Fitness for all student affairs professionals and student leaders alike. The text would be appropriate to use for staff development activities, supervision meetings, and team conversations.

Lennon, D. G. (2007). Business fitness: The power to succeed – your way. Centennial, CO: Glenbridge.

Guest post for TheSABloggers.org: Content Rules (Social Media Book Review)

 I have written a new post for The Student Affairs Collaborative regarding a newly published (2011) book titled Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs) and C. C. Chapman (@cc_chapman). Although the book is primarily written for entrepeneurs, the 282 page book would definitely benefit student affairs professionals and student leaders alike who are looking to develop and market educational and social program initiatives on campus.

Click HERE to read the entire article.