3 things….

Trying to get into more regular practice of blogging as often seems to happen at this time of year- something about the Autumn and that “back to school” feeling. Thought I would try to blog on a Monday morning (ok so today is Friday but nevermind) about 3 things I learnt or struck me from the week before. So this is reflecting on week beginning 25th September….

  1. It takes longer to create a short workshop than a longer one!

I frequently refer to Mark Twain’s words about not having time to write a short letter so he wrote a long one instead. I was very much minded of this this week when I was preparing a session looking at options for future delivery models in universities. I used some great resources from Edinburgh as inspiration and spent a lot of time, but fractured time as it was a super busy week last week, thinking about the session which was for the senior leadership team, professional service directors and heads of department. I couldn’t quite get the activity right and had planned quite a long, staged exercise, until talking it through with my partner over a hurried breakfast on the morning of the session I realised it wasn’t going to work at all! I then revisited the whole thing and reduced it, thankfully, as of course we ran over time and no-one got anywhere near completing all the stages for the reduced activity. I realised that I had to go through quite a few iterations of planning to get to a shorter more focused session. It takes much more time and thought to create a focused session as you’ve got to really drill down on what you want the outcomes to be. I must remember this in the future! At least now I have a fun session on university futures I would like to use again – and one that can be flexed in terms of timing.

2. Play the long game

There is another quotation that I was minded of this week from Laura Vanderkam, who writes about time management. I can’t remember it fully (even though it is on a poster on our kitchen wall!) but it goes something like – effort in the short term doesn’t always feel like effort in the long term but usually is. She articulates in a much punchier way than that! Anyway, I was reminded of this, firstly in relation to the creation of the session above which whilst a bit stressful and painful now gives me a session I can reuse and secondly in relation to some work that I did earlier in the summer that I then revisited as part of a CPD session. I am a SEDA Senior Fellow and every year, we are required to reflect on our CPD activities for the year and what we want to achieve in the next year. Then we are matched with two other fellows and have a conversation about all our reflections. I have to admit that the thought of this activity always fills me with dread – when am I going to have the time to do this in July at one of the busiest times of the year? This year I accepted that it was not going to get done before I went off on leave, so wrote my reflection on the plane, which in hindsight was a good idea as I love that uninterrupted space and time you get on a plane for thinking. We finally had the triad meeting and it was great to go back and read what I had written, as well as hear from others about how they manage their CPD. I got some great ideas and was reminded that my plan of trying to do a coaching related and a play related action every week, chipping away at big goals in a small way, really does pay off.

3. Aim for average

This is a hard one for me! I had a coaching session earlier in September where I was discussing feeling overwhelmed and how I never felt I “finished” everything that had to be done by the end of the week, which meant I started the week feeling on the back foot. My goal was to aim for average, not brilliant, not even good, just ok. Its interesting reflecting on this because what does that even mean? And conversely what does aiming for brilliant mean? I’m always very critical of myself so even if I get feedback that something has gone well, I don’t quite accept it as my internal voice tells me all the things that could have been done better!! And of course “ok”, “brilliant”, “good” are often subjective judgments – what looks “ok” to you could be “amazing” for me and vice versa, but I often find myself trying to meet some imaginary gold standard that I think is universal. Anyway. I am trying to lighten up and take a breath and really prioritise on those things that absolutely have to be done well. Its a process and a journey. And one I shall probably come back to again.

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