Professor Destressor eNews
Combining productive work lives and balanced personal lives
Fall 2010

Our goal is to bring you news, insights, and information about leading a balanced and productive life while making a difference.

In this issue, you'll find:

  1. The Pause that Refreshes
  2. Professor Destressor coaching
  3. Up and coming workshops

1. The Pause That Refreshes

Quick, before you go into vacation mode, take a moment to pause and finish fully from your fall term. Competing these tasks before you go off to wrap presents, eat gargantuous amounts of high saturated fats, or go skiing will give you fabulous closure, help you relax over the break, and make the rest of your life as a professor go so much better.

  1. File your notes from your courses in folders labeled so that you can find them the next time you are getting ready to teach those courses again. Before you shove those notes into a folder, pause just a moment to debrief from your courses. Annotate the syllabi with the briefest of notes:

    • What went well in the flow of the semester?

    • What were the trouble spots and how might you fix them?

    • What were your favorite classes? What did you do to make that a good learning experience for your students and satisfying for yourself?

  2. File you class evaluations with your notes. Probably you have read them but you might consider a quick sorting of them into these piles so you annotate Cliff Notes versions of the nuggets from each of the sub-stacks.

    • Outliers – these are those 1-3% strange evaluations that make no sense. The student who didn’t like your wearing army boots to class when you know you always wore your blue suede shoes, the person who complains about having to read any text material, or the one who says, “I don’t know how this course went because I didn’t attend very much.” These feedback forms keep you up at night worrying that you are not a good teacher but you are ignoring the fact that their responses have nothing to do with you. The boot guy was on drugs, the lazy reader has undiagnosed dyslexia, and the MIA student was driving her mother to chemotherapy all semester. They all need help, but not from you.

    • Find the really outstanding evaluations and make a Cliff Note about what they like. Plan to do more of those things next semester. You won’t remember all the nuggets so paper clip the whole stack of fan letters together, write your Cliff Note on a sticky note and stick it on the front of the stack.

    • See if any other piles sort themselves and make notes for course improvements based on their comments. Paper clip and Cliff Note those sub-stacks.

  3. Take a quick look at your other accomplishments in scholarly work or service and make a list of your fall term accomplishments. This task is easy if you have been using a Dream Book to track your goals because the accomplished goals will be stuck to the back of the pages in each of your vision statement sections. Reading the Dream Book backwards will show you at a glance what you have accomplished.

  4. Make a list of the most important priorities you want to accomplish when you return to work after the winter holiday break. Set the list in the clear space on your desk where the class notes and evaluations sat before you filed them.

All of these tasks take between one and three hours depending on whether you teach small classes or very large classes. They will save you about one hundred hours – well maybe not that much but lots of time trying to remember what you liked and didn’t lie about your fall classes and where you were with your projects before you left for winter break.

Don’t try to clean off your whole desk. You have done the most important tasks to give yourself great closure for the fall term. Your future self will thank you for leaving cracker crumbs on the trail of becoming even more of Peak Performing Professor than you already are. This short pause will allow you to refresh yourself guilt-free for the next few days. You will return to work energized because you won’t have to search your memory for where you were in each of your current projects. It is as if the boss has left a to-do list on your desk for the winter/spring term. Oh, that’s right, you are your own boss on this work.

Now turn off the lights, and enjoy some well deserved personal time. The work will be there when you return.


Pause and refresh. I will.

Susan Robison

2. Professor Destressor Workshops and Coaching

About the publisher: Susan Robison, Ph.D. is a psychologist and an independent educator. She is professor of psychology at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland and offers services as a professional coach, speaker, author and seminar leader. She loves to coach professionals who want improvement in:

If you are feeling stuck on the way to your ideal life, give Susan a call for a complementary half-hour coaching session.

Susan provides keynotes and seminars to colleges, universities and professional organizations on the topics of:

She offers her audiences a follow-up coaching session because she knows that workshops don’t work… unless the participants apply their learnings.

Contact Susan for your coaching, speaking, or seminar needs at or at 410-465-5892.

3. Up and coming workshops

Title: "Your Best Year Ever: Managing Your Mission, Yourself, and Your Time"
Date: October 15, 2010
Place: Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Leadership Program for Women Faculty

The next year will be a big writing year for me so I am limiting my speaking engagements. I am still accepting a couple more speaking invitations for faculty work/life balance and leadership workshops for summer and fall of 2011. Contact me if your college or university needs a presenter on any of the topics listed above.

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Professor Destressor e-Newsletter is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Coaching should not be construed as a form of, or substitute for, counseling, psychotherapy, legal, or financial services.

© Copyright 2010 Susan Robison. All rights reserved. The above material is copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site without the publisher’s permission.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Susan Robison, PhD.; 9005 Chevrolet Drive; Ellicott City, MD 21042 Voice: 410-465-5892 or 410-461-1382 E-mail: Website:

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