Links Roundup #38: Privacy, Wi-fi, Digital Research & Timeline Tools and Mindfulness

saddle and rope

Privacy Tips for Online

John Mason of the recently posted a nice list of 19 actions that we can easily incorporate in our online activity to better protect our privacy in his Online Privacy Guide.

Boost Your Home Wi-Fi

As some of us begin to think about doing some work from home over the holidays… or begin to do some major online shopping in expectation of said holidays, here’s a handy list from the folks at Lifehacker: Top 10 ways to boost your home wi-fi.

23 Researcher Things

The minds at the University of Melbourne posted this collection of blogs on the  23 Research Things (2017): Digital Tools to Support Your Research.  It is a nice collection to share with your faculty about Open Access, Scholarly Communications, etc topics.

Online Timeline Maker

Nick Peachey posted on his Scoop.It topic Tools for Teachers and Learners about an online Timeline Maker from the people at TimeGraphics.  This free tool integrates with Google apps.

A Mindful Thanksgiving

And finally, from the wonderful folks at Mindful Magazine, 5 Ways to Thrive at Thanksgiving.  To their thoughtful message I will add my prayers that all my faithful readers have a blessed Thanksgiving.  For those readers not in the USA, a blessed holiday season as it approaches.

picture of the first thanksgiving  Jean Leon Gerome Ferris [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Links Roundup #37: Learning to Learn, Tools, OneNote and NaNoWriMo

saddle and ropeLearning to Learn Resources

I recently ran across a review of a very successful MOOC that Engineering Professor Barbara Oakley created on Coursera called Learning to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects.  I have the course linked in my engineering LibGuides, but Bill Ferster from eLearning Industry wrote an interesting review of this MOOC.  He was looking at the course from the perspective of why it was so successful and how to create good MOOCs.  His August 30th article, Learning How to Learn: Anatomy of a A Good MOOC, is also worth perusing.

Along the same lines, I also promote Dr. Richard Hamming’s YouTube video series Learning to Learn.  He taught students at the Naval Postgraduate School in California in the late 90’s.  The one that I particularly highlight to my students is Learning to Learn Mathematics.

Productivity Podcasts

I recently ran across a great round-up of productivity podcasts compiled by Ruth, over at the Delightful Planner.  One note:  Her link to the archive of Time Hackers podcasts has since moved and I have the correct link: Time Hackers podcast (none since 2016).

Jane Hart’s Top Productivity Tools  for Learning

Have you taken a look at Jane Hart’s 2017 list of Top Tools for Learning?  Her list is always a treasure trove of the most popular tools for productivity and learning. This was the 11th year for her survey and she received input from over 52 countries world-wide.  YouTube and Google Search maintained their top 2 rankings this year, but there are 52 tools making their debut this year.

Reminder: November will be NaNoWriMo Month

And finally, a reminder that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is fast approaching.  Many people use this event as an opportunity to commit to and achieve many personal writing goals, not just novels, though the official program still focuses on novels.  Grant Faulkner is the Executive Director of NaNoWriMo and he recently sat down with the folks at Evernote (an official sponsor of the event) to discuss writing and productivity in this podcast.  I hope his message inspires some of our readers to take the plunge and join the NaNoWriMo movement next month.

Learn OneNote Conference 2017:  November 7-13, 2017

The Learn OneNote Conference 2017  is a totally online conference which requires only registration (free).  The pre-recorded videos from OneNote experts can be watched at any time during this one week window.  All video content will be removed 48 hours after the conference end on November 13th.  You will be offered an option to purchase a Lifetime Access pass to watch the sessions later, but that is not required.  The first half of the conference will focus on business users and the second half on education users.

Tuesday Tool Tip: Bullet Journaling

Colleen Boff over at Library Worklife had a nice post this month on “Get Organized, Reflective, and Focused Through Bullet-Journaling.”  The YouTube link she includes in her article covers how to set up a Bullet-Journal and also includes a video showing how the Bullet-Journal got started via Kickstarter.

The Bullet Journal (BuJo for short) system was created by Ryder Carroll. He explained its evolution in his TedxYale Talk, “How to lead an intentional life.”  In 2014, his Kickstarter campaign raised close to $80,000, and the website was born.  And since then, the whole concept of bullet journaling has gone viral, with over one million Instagram posts with the #bulletjournal tag and I won’t even begin to count the Pinterest and Twitter posts.  Then there are the Facebook pages: Bullet Journal Beginners with over 19,600 members and Bullet Journal Junkies with over 126,200 members just to name a few.  And in case you wondered, yes, there is even a Librarians Who Bullet Journal Facebook group (only 22 members at last glance).

There is a significant offshoot of the original bullet journal where artistic individuals have taken the utilitarian pages of the bullet journal and have created works of art with their page layouts.  For example, Tsh, over at The Art of Simple, has a very nice post about bullet-journaling with some beautiful sample pages.  And if you like the artistic bent to your journal, Dawn Nichole Designs has a nice roundup of how-to bullet-journal tutorials that explore different templates and hand-lettering options.  Boho Berry has a multi-post guide to everything Bullet-journaling and a bonus post on using Bullet-journaling for her NaNoWriMo experience.

Want a digital version of the Bullet journal?  Watch this video by Michele Christensen: How to set up a Bullet Journal-style notebook in OneNote.

There are, as with any tool, pros and cons to this technique.  On the Pro side, your bullet-journal can be customized by you to contain all the important “stuff” that you need to have at your fingertips, and it will still be accessible if the power goes out and you are beyond a cell signal.  On the Con side, it may result in you repeating some calendaring and list maintenance if you currently use (and intend to continue to use) other tools.  Also on the Con side, I personally didn’t care for the idea that some used this tool to amass more permanent or ongoing lists, like wish lists, books-I’ve-read, long-term-goals, etc.  My reservation with this usage is that the bullet-journals are of static length and pages can’t be easily moved to your next bullet journal when the current one is full.  I don’t want to lose, or have to copy over such lists, but that is a minor point and such pages don’t have to be included in a bullet journal.

Is Bullet journaling the ANSWER to productivity and self-organization?  Every tool is only what you make of it.  Take a look at a bunch of bullet journals and decide how this might or might not fit into your life.  Does it take more time to keep up with the journal than what you were doing before?  Do you find yourself being more burdened by trying to keep up with the actual journaling than you were before?  Are you, instead, managing to keep up with things easier and accomplishing more than before?  If so, perhaps this is the method for you.

Links Roundup #36: Browsers, Email , Life’s Purpose, Mindmapping and a New Science Desktop Library

saddle and ropeIf you are like me, you sometimes wonder if the web browser of choice (especially when it is crashing on you!) is the still the best choice.  PC Magazine comes to the rescue with their latest article:  The Best Web Browsers of 2017.  I’ve heard of Microsoft’s new Edge, but how many of you have heard of Vivaldi, and Brave, and Neon?  They were all new to me!

Thinking about reevaluating my web browser had me asking the question, what about my web-based email service?  I have a suspicion that Yahoo may be responsible for my browser crashes lately, but my long-term history of saved message has made me less eager to change services.  The people at TechAdvisor offer us up-to-date insight with The Best Free Email Services for 2017.  The people at LIfeWire also chimed in with their 2017 Best Of post. New to me were Yandex and ProtonMail.

Steven Riccio, a professor of International Business & Management at Dickinson College recently posted Habits of Highly Effective Higher-Ed Professionals, Part 2: Finding Your Purpose. If you missed his Part 1 article back in June, it is also worth visiting.  In Part 2, Riccio thoughtfully extends the thesis of his previous article which focused on “sharpening our saws” for more effective work, and takes on the challenge of shifting our professional focus from “pursuing happiness to pursuing purpose.”  He looks at how many strive to reach happiness via the completion of goals and challenges, that we end up exhausted, and still missing the ultimate goal of happiness. Riccio challenges us to look inward and discover what our true purpose is for our lives.  Did you follow the directives he gave mid article and write down what you believed, at that moment that your purpose was?  Did it develop and change by the time you finished the article?

ScienceFair is a new open source desktop science library hosted on Github. It  “was developed by Code for Science and FathomLabs along with other contributors, with support from Mozilla Science LabeLife and the Dat project.” (per site).  You can read about all the details of the new launch at the eLife Labs blog.  While they are planning a reference manager feature for upcoming releases, ScienceFair is not another reference manager.  Instead the developers have focused their efforts on providing a better application for searching open access science literature and providing a quality reader for the articles.  They also have begun to offer some data and text mining features which they intend to be a focus for future enhancements.  While still in their very early days, ScienceFair is an application worth keeping our eyes on.

And Finally, from our friends at the mindmapping software blog, we have their newest mindmapping comparison for 2017.  More comprehensive than ever, this is a great resource for anyone interested in mindmapping software options.



Sabbaticals… Critical or Impossible?

As a new school year rushes toward us, I find myself thinking more and more wistfully about the sabbaticals that tenured professors around me are either leaving for or just returning from. The idea of a full semester (or year!) to focus only upon a desired area of research or study sounds immensely attractive as I work on Fall Kick-off projects and see my calendar filling up with all those oh-so-familiar beginning-of-the-school-year activities.

But, sabbaticals aren’t just for academics anymore… or at least so suggests the Forbes article How to Take a Sabbatical From Work.     Buddist monk meditating by a waterfall

I was surprised to discover that you don’t have to be a tenure track professional to take a sabbatical these days. Writers at Fast Company explain How Taking a Sabbatical Isn’t As Impossible As It Sounds. One of the keys to achieving a successful sabbatical is being very deliberate in developing a plan for what you want to do and how you might apply what you learn or experience on the job once you return.

One valuable resource for sabbatical planners to consider is Dan Clement‘s book Escape 101: Sabbaticals Made Simple.   His book and website will outline many of the considerations for planning and taking a sabbatical and is a wealth of information with links to many of the resources needed to make such an endeavor successful.

Brazeau & Van Tyle in their article ” Sabbaticals: The Key to Sharpening our Professional Skills as Educators, Scientists, and Clinicians” (Am J Pharm Educ. 2006 Oct 15; 70(5): 109), advocate for shorter (1 – 2 month) sabbaticals time for perhaps developing new skills at other clinics or  specialized study of topics that could bring back value to the organization.  While this idea in and of itself is appealing, Michael Hyatt discusses a more personal benefit from taking regular extended time away from your daily life (he suggests 1 month) in his post: 5 Things I learned When We Got Away From It All.   I particularly resonate with the idea of extended time to recenter/recharge and refocus my time and talents on what is most important to me.

While I admit that I am not seriously planning to pitch a request to my boss anytime soon for a  year-long sabbatical from my job, I do attempt to regularly schedule mini-retreats for myself several times a year. Recently I have wrapped several additional days around a holiday weekend.  I deliberately do not plan any vacation travel during these times. Last month I discussed how I sometimes use this time for special projects (the garage or the ALA Biblioquilt), but I also plan a significant chuck of my time as non-scheduled and unplugged.  Time just to think, to pray, to study a topic of personal interest and to recharge for the challenges ahead.   While always too short, I find it motivating to know that another mini-break is only a month or so away as I rejoin my normal hectic schedule.  My next break?  Labor Day weekend.  Just the thought of that extended break will make August fly.

How about you?  When is your next chance to get away and recharge?  Even if you just  came back from a break, glance through the next couple of months on the calendar and make some plans… just having something to look forward to can make the hectic start to the school year more palatable.




Lazy days of Summer.. or Hobbyist’s Mecca?

pictures of various hobbiesUntil a few years ago, I never thought about the number of different hobbies and interests that I had.  Then my sister retired, and I watched her struggle for several years to deal with the loss of her vocation, which had been her life.  She didn’t have hobbies –  she put everything into her job; then, when her job was no longer there, she didn’t know what to do.

Over time, she replaced her hours working with other pastimes, and now, almost 5 years after retirement, she recently told me that she was very happy being retired.  I on the other hand, find myself increasingly frustrated that my avocations far out-stretch my time and energy available.  How about you?  Which camp do you fall into?  Too many, or not enough interests and hobbies?

Business Insider, summarized The 20 most common hobbies of the richest people in the world last year.  If you guessed that number 1 was golf, you were way off!  In fact, the most common past-time for the world’s richest people is Philanthropy.  That’s a warm fuzzy for you!  (Golf was actually way down at number 14!)  Happily for us librarians, reading made the top 20, and was really the only one that I had in common with the world’s richest people.  Though I may desire to spend my days in philanthropic pursuits and worldwide travel my purse is a little too light for that to be a major past-time for me at this time.

If the Business Insider list was a little outside your comfort zone, you can also check out Lifehacks article: This List of 50 Low-cost Hobbies Will Excite You.  I am being very careful to not read this article very closely, because it seems I have the opposite problem… too many hobbies for the time and energy I have.  Hence the topic of hobbies on a productivity blog.  How do I balance my life so that the things that give me most joy don’t get stored on the back burner?

What if your work is fulfilling, but leaves little time for more creative pursuits?  The Muse discusses this at their blog: How to Find and Make Time for Your Passion Even When You’re Busy.  Lifehacker offers a Geek’s Guide to Budgeting Hobbies, because we all have experienced the financial hit as well as the time crunch when it comes to some of our favorite past-times.  I particularly liked their “mini-vacation” hobby holidays idea.  I have actually been able to somewhat successfully implement that in my own life by wrapping two vacation days around holiday long weekends, giving myself five days to focus on a certain cleaning project (Memorial Day was my Garage!), or hobby (I have 4th of July earmarked for putting together a quilt for ALABiblioquilters).

The Time Management Ninja reminds us Why You Need a Hobby to Be More Productive.  His advice is well taken.  It is hard to remember sometimes, when all our ToDo lists are screaming at us, but having experienced burnout more than once during my working years, I can fully endorse his advice.  In retrospect, I would much rather use the energy and time expended trying to recover from burnout on hobbies and creative outlets of my choice.  How about you?  Now, during the “only slightly” less crazed days of summer, join me in searching for precious pockets of time, energy and money to devote to rekindling our passions in our favorite (or new!) hobbies.