Utilizing Penn State’s Interlibrary Loan System

July 3rd, 2015 by

The Penn State Library’s Interlibrary Loan System can help you with accessing course materials at a distance. The system allows you to search all the libraries associated with Penn State (University Park and all branch campuses) in order to locate an item to be sent directly to you. If you live within the continental United States, you are able to request the following materials to be delivered right to your door:

  • circulating material (books, DVDs, CDs) located at any Penn State library
  • articles from journals located at any Penn State library
  • circulating material (books, DVDs, CDs) and journal articles owned by other libraries

You will be able to find books (or other materials) here that professors suggest as alternative readings for your course assignments. Being able to locate and request this material can help you secure what you need for your courses.

Library Books. Faungg, Flickr.

Library Books. Faungg, Flickr.

Signing up for the delivery service is a two-step process:

  1. Check to see if you need to register with the Libraries. If you’ve registered for classes you should already have an account, but you can check by going to My Library Account. If your information isn’t current, update it.
  2. Register for ILLiad services. Enter the address where you want the books to be delivered. Choose “World Campus” in the Campus Location drop-down menu box and “World” in the Pickup Location drop-down menu box. Scanned articles and book chapters will be posted to your ILLiad account.

Once the Libraries have your address information, you can request your materials. Here’s how you can start that process:

  • To request materials from the University Libraries, search for your item in the CAT, then choose “I Want It.” In the “pickup location” drop-down menu, select “World Campus.”
  • To request books from Pennsylvania academic libraries, search via E-ZBorrow, then select “World Campus” from the pickup location drop-down menu.
  • To request materials from libraries around the world, search in the WorldCat, then choose “Request Item via ILL” to have the information imported into an ILLiad request form. This request is attached to your ILLiad profile which already has “World” as a pickup

When searching, if you come across an article that isnˈt available in full text, select the “Get It!” button, then choose “Consider Interlibrary Loan.” This will have the article information imported into an ILLiad request form. When Libraries staff receive the article you want, it will be posted to your account for your reference.

Loans are shipped via UPS Ground for fast delivery, but delivery times will vary based on where your materials are being shipped.

Books found in the CAT have a semester loan with two renewals. Books requested via
E-ZBorrow have a 4-week loan with a 4-week renewal. Books borrowed from other libraries have the loan period determined by the lending library.

You can ship or mail the books back to the library. A return mailing label is included with each book. Or, if you live near a Penn State campus, you can drop the books off at any Penn State library.

If you have any questions, please contact the Penn State Libraries at UL-ILLIAD-SUPPORT@LISTS.PSU.EDU or call 814-865-3480. Visit the Penn State University Libraries website for more information.

Links We Love

July 2nd, 2015 by
Links We Love

Links We Love

Five things that shouldn’t be missed from this past week!

1. The “We Are” sculpture, gift of Penn State’s Class of 2013, was installed on University Park campus this week.

2. Learn 12 ways to defuse a workplace conflict by Inc.

3. Independence Day recipes, crafts, and decorations to get you feeling festive by Better Homes and Gardens.

4. Check out the 6 questions to ask Siri and her hilarious responses.

5. A fine feathered friend from Cyprus who “tweets” a familiar Penn State phrase.


Faculty Focus: Josh Kirby

July 1st, 2015 by

We recently caught up with Josh Kirby, lead faculty member for Learning, Design, and Technology (LDT) online programs at Penn State. Here’s our conversation:

Please give our readers a sense of your background and how you arrived at your current position at Penn State.

I’m new to my role as the lead faculty member for LDT online programs at Penn State, but when I began my employment in this role in February 2015 I was returning to a university and faculty that I know and respect. From 2001 to 2007 I was a master’s and doctoral student

Josh Kirby

Josh Kirby (Photo by Pat Hummer)

at Penn State University Park, in the instructional systems program. From 2007 to 2010 I was the instructional design coordinator for online programs at the Penn State School of Graduate Professional Studies at Great Valley. I coordinated the efforts of the engineering faculty at Great Valley, converting their initial concepts for a systems engineering master’s degree into a successful and well-ranked program. Following Penn State Great Valley, my spouse and I hopscotched to Ohio and Wyoming, and then back to Pennsylvania for career opportunities in our respective areas of expertise. By training and by interest, I am an educational programs administrator — I like to design, deliver, and administrate educational programs, as it fits well with my instructional systems background and my personal desire to always be in the thick of things.

Can you explain what a degree in LDT entails?

Our master’s degree (MEd) in LDT prepares students to be critical evaluators and decision-makers related to educational technologies and learning resources. We attract a broad range of educators, including K–12 teachers, corporate/organizational/military trainers, curriculum developers, instructional designers, and higher education personnel. We aim to produce skilled professionals who will understand design and development processes, evaluate the qualities of technologies and resources for learning, and relate those qualities to their organization’s educational goals.

The LDT MEd degree program features courses in systematic instructional development, instructional development for course management systems, educational game design, integration of mobile technologies into learning contexts, as well as a few courses to expose students to current trends and foundations in the design of technology for learning. Our students gain both practical skills as well as a deeper understanding of the field, its history, and its trends. Our course selection is tailored to not only prepare students for work in today’s learning design field, but also to help them adapt to the world of constant innovation in educational technology.

What do you believe are some of the best qualities of the LDT program offered by Penn State World Campus?

I am most proud that the faculty teaching our online courses are the same faculty who are teaching the residential courses for doctoral and master’s students at University Park, who are actively engaged nationally and internationally in the research of learning design and educational technology, and who — despite their professional successes — are committed parents, community members, and friends. Our students notice the quality of our faculty from the beginning of their studies. When teaching, regardless of venue, the LDT faculty members are knowledgeable and principled, and they have high expectations for themselves and their students.

I also appreciate that our program continues to grow and evolve in sync with the fields of LDT as a whole. Our Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Educational Technology Integration continues to be extremely popular, attracting students who are looking for that mid-career boost to their understanding of a dynamic educational landscape, as well as students who aren’t quite sure they want to jump feet first into a master’s degree program. (By design, if you complete the certificate, all five courses will transfer directly into the MEd in LDT program. More than half of our MEd students started as certificate students.) Given the success of our certificate in educational technology integration, we have additional specialized certificates currently in the approval process, helping to ensure that we are meeting the needs for many different education, training, and design professionals.

What do you think is the most important consideration when developing an online course?

Online course materials need to facilitate the learning processes of many different people and preferences. If the course is active, with interesting hands-on projects and collaborative explorations, then the course will appeal to a broad array of learners. But I do not discount the importance of theoretical and historical foundations, especially for advanced learners (like graduate students in higher-education settings). If we can find meaningful readings, substantive multimedia resources, and engaging projects and blend them together in a way that has a palpable flow, then we will have a good course. Possibly the most important consideration when designing an online course is iteration — version 1 of the course will not be as good as versions 2 or 3, so design processes (and educational systems) must incorporate additional time for revision after the first run of a course.

What have you learned from teaching World Campus students?

I appreciate the extraordinarily broad range of student experiences and circumstances that bring them to pursue higher education with us. Some are finally getting the chance to further their education after years away from their past educational experiences. Others need the flexibility to do what they need to do at home with their families, or on the road with their careers. We have teachers looking for their first master’s degree as a requirement for their teaching license, and teachers looking for their second master’s degree as a means to enhance or change their career path in education. We have military students learning about LDT because it directly relates to their military missions, and some who seek a new opportunity for the next stage of their careers after active duty.

What I have learned is that we need to be broad in our awareness, but focused on delivering the best content and learning experiences to our students. The students chose Penn State because of the quality and reputation of our online learning opportunities offered by World Campus, and because of the national and international regard that has been earned by each academic program, my program included. We have a responsibility to deliver the best resources, the best practices and perspectives, and the best efforts of our field and our faculty to those who trust us enough to place (to some extent) their careers into our hands. My World Campus students have made me strive to be better myself, and to lead my peers toward continuous innovation and improvement. My constant contact with students who I teach and who I advise provides me with an ongoing source of motivation that I can use to fuel the thinking of myself and my colleagues.

What do you do for fun?

My spouse and I recently welcomed our first child to our world, so my fun of late has been moments of joy followed by hours of household tasks to care for the others. If there is ever to be a “new normal” to be had in the near future, then I will return to my outdoor travels, particularly hiking, backpacking, and canoeing. Of all the things that I can give to my child, a deep understanding of our connection to the natural world tops the list, and fun things like an aptitude for digital technology and science can come later. I continue to serve as a volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America at the local, area, and national levels of leadership in that organization —where I have a deep-seated love for advising youth (ages 14 through 20) who are elected officers at each of those local, area, and national levels. While at home I enjoy cooking and preparing great meals and learning from those failures and successes — I was on a substantial “success” streak, but that streak was recently broken by a very bad recipe (from a published cookbook, no less).

To learn more about the Learning, Design, and Technology MEd and certificate programs, please contact Dr. Kirby at edtec@psu.edu or call the online programs’ office at 814-865-0473.

Race Recap: Lessons Learned at NASCAR

June 29th, 2015 by

Several Penn State World Campus students attended the Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 Race at Pocono Raceway to celebrate a new partnership with Axalta Coating, a Philadelphia-based manufacturer of liquid and powder coatings, and sponsor of NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

Rooftop Deck View at NASCAR Race. Photo by Chase Kelly.

Rooftop Deck View at NASCAR Race. Photo by Chase Kelly.

World Campus students joined peers from the Smeal College of Business and the colleges of Engineering and Communications at Penn State to get exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the pit road and other areas of the race track. They had the opportunity to interact with Axalta executives, NASCAR drivers Gordon and Danica Patrick, and each other for a unique experience that took learning to the next level.

Here’s a recap of our studentsˈ experiences about the event:

Chase Kelly, Information Sciences and Technology

Our weekend was simply outstanding! We got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the inner workings of the racing world, along with meeting NASCAR legends Jeff Gordon and Ray Evernham and the wonderful and courteous executives of Axalta Coating Systems. We made new and lasting connections with both World Campus and Penn State University Park staff and students.

Chase Kelly starting the ARCA Race. Photo by Chase Kelly.

Chase Kelly starting the ARCA Race. Photo by Chase Kelly.

To top off the ridiculously cool weekend, they grabbed me at the last minute to wave the green flag to start the ARCA race on Saturday! Now that was AWESOME! This experience will stay with us for a lifetime and all thanks to Penn State World Campus!

Beth Fahey, Psychology

The weekend was full of shared stories about being a student at Penn State and connecting with business executives who gave us the inside track on marketing a company as well as marketing ourselves. Meeting current on-campus students was a great jolt to my already palpable excitement of being a Penn Stater. They were all curious about being an adult learner and what it looked like for us. They were all very supportive and excited to meet the World Campus students who were present. We exchanged tips about ANGEL, textbooks, and balancing time requirements — all shared concerns for college students everywhere. Meeting actual Penn State faculty and staff was also a treat. They were truly interested in what we had to say and our concerns as online students.

Penn State Students at NASCAR Race. Photo by Beth Fahey.

Penn State Students at NASCAR Race. Photo by Beth Fahey.

Nicole Swient, Information Sciences and Technology

Being actively involved in discussions from top representatives from Axalta, MRN Radio, and the Pocono Raceway, I learned that a lot more goes into NASCAR than just car racing. I didn’t realize that at this moment my future career options would be forever changed. After meeting many Penn State alumni who were working at their dream jobs, we learned of the intricacies of the business. It opened my eyes to the potential career options that NASCAR has to offer. The highlight of the event included discussions with Jeff Gordon and Danica Patrick. And when the main race began on Sunday, it was exciting to see our Penn State Sprint Cup racecar driven by Jeff Gordon.

World Campus students at NASCAR race. Photo by Beth Fahey.

Penn State World Campus Students at NASCAR Race. Photo by Beth Fahey.

I’ll always remember this weekend. It was fun to spend the weekend with amazing people and to learn about the overall business of NASCAR racing. As a Penn State World Campus Blue & White Society member, I can say that I feel a lot more connected to the traditional campus after this event. As I continue to pursue my degree at Penn State, NASCAR racing and the other organizations surrounding NASCAR will be potential options for my future career.


Balancing Act: Finding Success with Online Classes

June 29th, 2015 by

Ah, the freedom of learning from the comforts of your home. How wonderful does that sound? There would be no need to get up at a certain time or find yourself stuck in traffic jams. Better yet, you can stay in your comfy clothes and drink coffee at your leisure while still completing course work. Sounds amazing, right? And if you plan and execute properly, you could also find yourself in this same position.

So how does one plan, implement, and prepare for successful online classes? As mother of three children, student at Penn State World Campus at least three-quarters of my time, and intern part-time in human resources for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, I have a lot on my plate. But despite my numerous tasks, I still maintain my honor roll status. Here’s how I manage my time — and maybe my tips will help you achieve the best possible experience with your own course work.

We all have the same amount of time in each day to accomplish everything with success and minimal stress. It takes a lot of work at first, but soon you can develop a forced habit. Over time and with scads of advice from successful peers, I have learned to use these exceptional strategies that I will share with you, in the hope that you, too, can succeed!

  • Focus is vital as you prepare for each and every day. It takes only a few minutes to prepare for the next task, or the subsequent day, and you will be glad you did —especially if something unexpected comes up. Live each day on task. This will grow sustainability in your progress while, at the same time, leaving you with a sense of accomplishment. Try a little meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises to get rid of negative energy or unhealthy toxins in your body before starting your day.


    ihtatho for Flickr

  • Be prepared for the unexpected — you know, those inconvenient accidents, errors, and equipment malfunctions that may pop up when you least expect them. I live with this philosophy: Never wait until later because when later comes, so does the mayhem. Even if you have plenty of time to get an assignment finished, it is better to start early and finish early. Be late for being early, if need be (Thank you, SpongeBob). As I prepare for the following day, I think about what needs to be done, what I can get ready now, or what can wait, etc. Then I execute my plan.
  • Plan out your day, whether that involves your course work, errands, things not school-related, or family affairs. I cannot stress this point enough. To implement a plan of attack will give you direction and help you complete all necessary online course work, as well as accomplish your tasks effectively and efficiently.
  • Minimize stress. When you are not prepared, your stress level will increase. Stress will consume so much of your energy that completing your course work will become labored, ultimately impacting your quality of course work. How do you minimize stress? You can alleviate this by delegating assignments around the house to other household members, concentrate on what needs to be finished in order of importance, and at the same time recognize when you need a break. If you are mentally exhausted, you will mostly likely start making mistakes. Rest for a few minutes or take a walk. Returning after a bit will leave you feeling refreshed and focused again.
  • OHIO (Only Handle It Once). When you have assignments to complete, it is best to work on them and, when finished, put them where they belong. I know that with time constraints, integrating this idea this can be difficult; however, it is vital to be proactive in organizing your work. It is easy to misplace, lose, or destroy whatever we have worked so hard on. I think of this as an adult version of picking up your toys after playing with them. Now you know why it is a good practice to start now if you haven’t already. Once an item is in your hand, put it where it belongs when you are finished.
  • Treat yourself. Finally, please give yourself some free time to relax and unwind from the day’s activities. You are worth it and you certainly deserve it.

I hope I have offered good strategies to help you achieve a positive outcome in your online learning. I have become successful in my endeavors by practicing these rules. I hope they will do the same for you as well.

Namaste —
Cheryl Horvath is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in labor and employment relations from Penn State World Campus.

Links We Love

June 25th, 2015 by
Links We Love

Links We Love

Five things that shouldn’t be missed from this past week!

1. A timelapse video of painting ice at Pegula Ice Arena.

2. The 15 Keys to Workplace Happiness.

3. World Campus student Thomas Fritz and Beryl Brodsky at Old Main with their Co-Motion tandem bike.

4. Get the buzz on summer insect bites.

5. Cat lovers and fans of Jurassic World unite! We give you Purassic World.

Confession of the Quiet Girl Behind the Computer: Making Connections Matter

June 25th, 2015 by
Shannon Johnson

Shannon Johnson

I tend to stick to myself. I participate in discussion boards. I state my opinions and I will even disagree when I need to. I hand in my assignments on time, get good grades and positive feedback. I don’t email the professor frequently to ask questions about assignments or to just pick his/her brain about certain topics. I don’t friend request my peers on Facebook or other social media. If they request me, I’ll accept. I’m the quiet girl behind the computer.

I graduated from Penn State World Campus in May 2012 with a respectable 3.48 GPA. I took seven classes my last semester and made the Dean’s list. So what does all this have to do with you?

A lot. Not taking the time to make meaningful connections as a distance education student can come back to haunt you later. It never occurred to me, really, that I needed to reach out more to my peers and instructors. We were friendly during class, we worked on group projects together, and then we moved on. This was okay with me. I’m a busy mom of four who works full-time. I have family and friends and I’m trying to earn my degree so I can change careers. I’m not looking to add 100+ new friends to my Facebook feed.

After undergrad, I immediately started a master of Educational Technology program and graduated in 2013. Again, I was the girl behind the computer. Then it happened.

I wanted to apply for an instructional design position that was advertised locally. I had never been an instructional designer; my background was in human resources. So I reached out to my instructional design professor to see if she would be willing to write me a reference for the job. I had a 100% in her class and she encouraged me to use certain documents in my final e-portfolio because the feedback from my assignments was great. Since this was my only experience with instructional design, she was my only hope. Her reply was, “I’m sorry. I don’t know you well enough to do that.” Oh, no.

What happens next? I wanted to apply to doctorate programs, and guess what? You need three references for that process.

My advice to you as distance education students: Reach out. Make connections. Friend your peers on professional social media platforms, such as LinkedIn. Build relationships with your instructors and peers.

You never know, if you make meaningful connections, someone might remember you were great at leading your final project and contact you on those platforms when a job comes available where they work.

Shannon Johnson is a mom of four, full-time instructional designer, and career student. She earned a BA in Labor Studies and Employment Relations from Penn State World Campus in 2012 and a master of Educational Technology from Boise State University in 2013. She is currently a student at UMUC earning a master of Distance Education and E-learning: Policy and Management degree. All of her college course work has been conducted online, and she’s proud that she’s never had to go to class in person.

Meet Tasha Brown: Transfer Credit Specialist

June 24th, 2015 by
Tasha Brown

Tasha Brown

Nearly 90% of Penn State World Campus students utilize transfer credits from another educational institution to help complete their degrees. We recently spoke with Tasha Brown, a transfer credit specialist, whose job is to help our students sort through which credits will transfer to Penn State and how they may be used toward degree requirements. Here’s our conversation:

Can you tell me about your background and how you arrived at your position with Penn State World Campus?

I started with Penn State five years ago as a front desk receptionist who supported academic advisers. The transfer credit specialist role was created three years ago and I was the first person selected for the new role. Since then, our team has grown to include eight individuals who solely focus on helping students with transfer credit evaluations.

How do you help our Penn State World Campus students?

For newly admitted and returning students, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions first determines which credits taken at other institutions are transferrable to Penn State. Then the transfer credit specialist team looks at this information to determine how those credits can be used in each student’s degree program. We each specialize in certain degrees and work closely with the academic departments and academic advisers to help evaluate these credits. Last semester, we evaluated 16,399 general transfer courses from other academic institutions!

Students are often concerned that their transfer credits may have been taken too long ago to transfer to Penn State. The usability of older courses depends on the degree program. We work with students within the parameters of each academic department’s requirements to maximize the use of each student’s transfer credits.

Is there a limit on the number of credits a student can transfer in to Penn State World Campus?

There’s no limit on the amount of credits that you can transfer to Penn State, but each academic program differs in what they will allow to transfer for the degree. Because Penn State is an accredited educational institution, we have high standards in place for assessing transfer credits. Bachelor’s degree programs require completion of at least 120 credits. You’ll need to take 36 out of the last 60 credits here in order to get your degree at Penn State. You must have earned a C (GPA of 2.0 or better) in courses from a regionally accredited institution in order to be eligible for a potential transfer.

How long does the transfer credit process take for incoming students?

Penn State does not currently pre-evaluate transfer credits. Credits are evaluated once you are accepted to a degree program. The transfer credit evaluation process usually depends on the program and the time of year in which transfer credits are being reviewed. General education credits are straightforward, but credits that are evaluated for major requirements might require more review from your academic department. Typically, this process will take about a month, but the time frame can widely vary for each student. Notifications are sent by email. Additionally, once transfer credit decisions have been made, there is no official process for appeal. Depending on your program, your courses could possibly be reviewed again on a case-by-case basis.

Students can use the Transfer Course Evaluation Guide to conduct an unofficial transfer credit evaluation.

Whats the most challenging part of your position?

The most challenging part of being a transfer credit specialist is delivering the news to students when credits are not going to be used in their degree program. While we truly want to help our students save time and money by transferring credits, Penn State has a rigorous curriculum and we want to uphold the integrity of the degrees and the quality of a Penn State education. The review process is so thorough because we want to set our students up for success in their degree program.

Whats the most rewarding part of your position?

It is really great to know how much our work is appreciated. We receive thank you emails from students all the time. I really enjoy putting together the “transfer credit puzzle” to use credits to their fullest potential in each student’s degree. Knowing that we have played a significant role in helping students start their journey or return to Penn State is really rewarding!

What is the best advice that you could give incoming students who think they may have credits to transfer?

When you’re first applying to Penn State, be sure to fully disclose on your application all of the places that you have attended prior to coming here. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions will determine which credits will transfer to Penn State. You’ll hear from a transfer credit specialist if we would need more specific information about your courses for use in your degree program, such as course syllabi or course descriptions. Don’t be alarmed if we contact you for more information; it’s what we do! If you do receive an email from us, please read all of the information closely because it will help you understand what to expect throughout the transfer credit process!

Regain Your Voice in a Team

June 24th, 2015 by

Have you lost your voice? There may be times when one is fearful about speaking up due to a work or team climate. Many of us have been in difficult team or work situations where our voice may not be valued. However, you worked hard to obtain your degree and want to help the company thrive. Success can often be found in the ability to present new ideas. Many organizations are learning that creative and innovative ideas are not sparked in work atmospheres where an employee has little to no voice. Unfortunately, there are still difficult situations or leaders that do not allow this kind of freedom within their team, department, or organization. How can you overcome this type of circumstance?

Careful communication can be key here. We learn as Penn State World Campus students that written communication is invaluable. In order to participate with an online team, each member should be given a voice. Typically, someone from the team will lead the group and set the schedule for the group project. However, this person or other students on the team may notice little participation from a team

Keith Rowley, Flickr

Keith Rowley, Flickr

member. I have found that reaching out to the individual and asking about his or her barriers to participation is helpful. Encouraging team members to not fear their right to voice an opinion is essential. Often enough, when team members are praised for their participation and ideas, one will see an increase in their participation levels. Encouragement to have a voice in projects and at work can help any team or organization succeed. But how do you handle the difficult leader who does not allow others to have a voice?

I have worked on teams that were not conducive to voicing ideas. I found that by attempting different strategies, you may be able to win some leaders over to allow you the opportunity to regain your voice.

Here are some tips that may help you navigate different types of leaders who do not allow for an environment that is conducive to generating new ideas:

  • Take time to develop a respectful working relationship with the leader. Get to know this individuals and applaud his or her successes or attributes that help the team or the organization. Allow the leader to feel valuable, and he or she may return the same to you.
  • Research your ideas and factually present them to the leader separately and away from the group meeting. If the leader is not receptive to your ideas, don’t be afraid to respectfully ask why this is happening. Learn from the response and be ready to address these types of barriers in the future.
  • Develop a strategy so that when you present your idea, the only logical decision is to allow your idea as an option. In other words, question your own idea and find every possible scenario where someone could strike it down. Then address those areas in your initial presentation.
  • If all else fails, don’t be afraid to have a voice. If you have tried every alternative that you possibly can to help turn things around, it may be time to take a leap of faith. Locate a leader in your organization who values new ideas and creativity and be prepared to present your ideas in an organized and logical fashion. Be sure to thank this leader for the opportunity to voice your ideas, but also let him or her know that your first priority is the success of the team and/or organization.

I have not met one person yet who has not made mistakes. Nor have I met someone who does not have something valuable to offer a team. I have met individuals afraid to assume the risk of creativity, who remain silent during a group project. Organizations today are valuing your voice, and you should too. Your education has prepared you for more than just the minimum level of participation. If you find that a team or work environment does not support innovation and creativity, there is no harm done in attempting the previously mentioned approaches. Your voice is unique. You have been taught through your education to outline your ideas with supporting research. Don’t be afraid to offer your unique perspective or ideas. If you are already a leader, don’t discourage idea generation. Encourage participation of all team members, and praise them for what they offer the team. In the end, there is usually a level of risk associated with just about everything. Don’t risk the loss of your voice. It’s too valuable to lose.

Jeanne Damon is pursuing her master’s degree in Human Resources and Employment Relations at Penn State World Campus. She currently holds the SPHR, PHR and SHRM-SCP certifications along with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from Bloomsburg University and is a Dean’s List recipient.


Maximizing Your Week

June 18th, 2015 by
mpclemens on Flickr

mpclemens on Flickr

My last assignment in the Navy was as an officer recruiter. We were required to maintain a weekly planner, which I hated! On Fridays, I would break out a bunch of markers and have to color-code different things that I was doing for the next week. A yellow block of time meant that I was meeting with someone thinking about joining the Navy, blue meant that I was meeting with my fellow recruiters, purple was for training, and on and on. I called it “arts and crafts hour” and felt it was a complete waste of my valuable time. On top of creating the plan, I had to track changes to the schedule as the week went on. By the end of the week, the planner looked like a hot mess with pencil arrows showing meetings that had moved, rescheduled trainings, and canceled presentations. There was, however, a genius to using a planner. The particular genius to the planner was that most of the really important things tended to be shifted, not canceled.

I am going to say that again — most of the really important things tended to be shifted, not canceled! Once I separated from the Navy, my wife and I realized our lives were out of control. We were both trying to find time to run our business while raising our two toddlers, and I was going to be pursuing my master’s degree full-time. I soon realized we needed “arts and crafts hour.”

Create the Ideal Week

My wife and I have a stay-at-home business, but that creates a lot of ambiguity in the schedule. Having a business with such a flexible schedule, we can work or not work whenever we want. That flexibility is a blessing, but it also creates a lot of strife because we feel guilty when working on the business and not spending time with the kids, but feel guilty playing with the kids and not working on our business. We discovered that we needed to balance all of our commitments and rid ourselves of guilt by setting up distinct boundaries between family and work. Although we have a stay-at-home business, I think a lot of people end up in a similar predicament. Have you ever seen anyone emailing work while at a family function?

We took the dates and times we normally worked on school and the business and blocked them off. We made sure we had times designated where we spent quality time together as a family; no texting or Facebook allowed. We made sure Sundays were for family and church only. We also made sure my wife and I had time to ourselves to read, reflect, and/or exercise. Creating our ideal week forced us to look at our priorities in life and create stability and balance. In the year that we’ve been using an ideal week, we’ve had one, maybe two, weeks that actually looked like our ideal week. That’s life! Having a plan lets you roll with the punches, not get smacked in the nose.

Make Time for Yourself

This is especially important for parents or people who work extra-long hours. The tendency is to do everything we can to please everyone else and make sure everyone gets their fair share of our time, but we all need our own time to reflect and recharge. People tend to do this in different ways. I’ve heard of people recharging by working out, reading the Bible, journaling, showering, biking, and meditating. You should notice that all of these things are healthy and cheap activities geared toward bettering your mind, body, and soul. Whatever makes you feel refreshed, make sure you spend time for yourself at least three days a week. No excuses!

I was doing executive coaching with some of the most successful people in our business. The idea was to talk to people who didn’t really need the coaching, but could offer feedback on my approach that I could use on the people who needed it more. One of the ladies (we’ll call her Ann) was in the top 1% of the company and had just won a huge award for her business vision. I thought she had it all figured out.

I was talking to Ann about her schedule and how she divided up her time. I asked Ann what her priorities in life were and she answered family, religion, and health. Finally I asked her how she scheduled her week. She said she didn’t really have a plan, she pretty much said yes to every meeting and never really thought about where her time went. I asked Ann how she made time for the priorities in life. She paused and finally said, “I guess I just hope I can slide them in there. That’s not really smart is it?”

It was clear Ann had never really thought about how backward her scheduling approach was before that point. If you don’t take control of your life and make sure you spend time on your priorities, your life will find a way to bump out those priorities and replace them with whatever gets tossed your way.

Create Your Weekly Plan the Week Before

You should have a pretty good idea what your next week will look like by the Friday or Saturday before. If you’re married or have someone whose schedule is linked to yours, work out the schedule together. Block out the times you know you’ll be at work, school, practice, volunteering, or appointments. Look for opportunities to spend time with family/friends with no distractions. Designate time to work on the priorities in your life. Finally, make sure to add times for yourself. Don’t worry if you have some white space on your planner. That’s where you can make up study time or spend more time with your family.

You’re going to start to see patterns in how you plan your week and how your week actually goes. In planning your week, you’re probably not going to designate a lot of time toward Facebook or TV. It’s not to say those things are necessarily bad, but if you don’t care enough to designate time to them the week before, then why are you wasting hours of time on them each week? The second thing you’ll notice is that the things that are important will just get shifted, not forgotten. Things happen and that’s OK. The key is to shift the important things in your life, not drop them.

There is a saying about Texas Holdem poker that says, “It takes five minutes to learn, but a lifetime to master.” That’s how I feel about time management. As much as my wife and I have a system that works, every four months or so we reach a breaking point where we’re trying to do too much and need to get back to basics.

Eric Ludwig is a Penn State World Campus student in the Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations program.