Valuing (and Maximizing) Our Time Away

* This post was originally featured on The OOHLALA Blog.

As the holiday season approaches, many of us will be taking some well-deserved time off from work, classes, and so forth. Unfortunately, this may be some of the only time we take off during the year. Which is why it’s important to use this time to its full advantage. I’ve found that adopting certain personal habits can help me to make the most of my time off.

Spread time throughout the year

Some people only take time off when it is given to them through holidays or forced upon them by others. I personally have taken the stance of giving myself long weekends and “mental health days,” throughout the year.

It helps to sprinkle time off throughout the year in order to minimize the impact of daily stress on your physical and mental well being.I always enjoy my random days off during the week even if they just help me get errands done. Giving myself this periodic time off allows me to better focus on the work I need to do during my regular hours.

When you’re away, be fully present

Unplugging fully from our work lives while we’re away is important, since any part of us that still lingers back at the office is a part that can’t fully enjoy the experience of being away. This means turning off notifications, putting our phones on “do not disturb”, and not checking our email.

I know I’m not perfect with this, but I’m trying to be better, especially whenever I leave for an extended period of time. Trust your colleagues to be able to take care of things in your absence. Also, the more work you can get done ahead of time will help you be mindful of where you are in the moment. Asking for help is also important. In return, you can help others out when they need the same from you later on.

Share the time with others

Another thing I value about having time off  is sharing this time away with others. You can maximize the emotional benefit of getting out of your routine by taking a trip with a family member, partner, or good friend and deepening those connections. It can be something you share and remember for a long time to come. It will be as fulfilling, if not more so, than if you just went on your own.

I always appreciate the opportunity to see friends that have moved across the country. It’s great to be able to share time with them after not having seen them for awhile and it’s also an opportunity to see new places which helps to broaden my horizons.

Another point here is to take pictures of your trips and time away to document the experience so you can share it with others. In the past few years I have become more sentimental about major life experiences. Having some artifacts and photos from my adventures has allowed me to share those experiences with others.You don’t need to share photos on social media at the exact time you take them, (see the previous point of unplugging), but sharing memories with friends and family allows us to reap the benefits of our journeys time and time again.

There are many benefits to taking time away from our normal routines. We can keep in touch with old friends, make new connections, experience amazing new places, and most important of all, we allow ourselves to grow and relax. This can help us to do our best work for our students and role model positive behavior for them. I hope you can take some time off soon—even if it is only a long weekend—to be present somewhere outside of your routine.

Here’s to nourishing, renewing, and growing ourselves all year long!

What I'm Geeking Out About This Week - 02/06/15


Greetings! Here's what is going on in my world.

I just started watching this show on Netflix (link above) after hearing a lot about it. It seems like a show that is very popular on the Internets. It is quirky, odd, silly, and a pleasure to watch. It's the perfect kind of mindlessness for me to enjoy after work. I'll consume a few episodes and then move on with my evening. I look forward to continuing to binge through this series!

I was recommended to check out this endeavor by a good grad school friend of mine. It is an effort to help people be more mindful and detach from their various smart devices. It recommends some easy tips that you can immediately put into action so that you can let go of the hold our modern technology has on us. I've started to do some of these things and it really does help. I'm still not where I feel like I could or should be, but doing some of these things are a great place to start.

I've seen various random blog posts hosted on Medium over the years. It has a distinct, simple interface and now that I have started to ship some of my content from here to Medium, I've seen the publishing side of things as well. It is impressive in how simple but functional it all is. It tickles the minimalist part of my brain where it only has what it needs and it does that well. Nothing more or less. If you're looking for a quick and easy way to get into the blogging game, I'd recommend starting with Medium.

Thanks for stopping by!

Book Review: Contagious Optimism


"My mind can be my friend or foe and that I either command it or it entraps me."

I was turned onto Contagious Optimism because of the involvement of one of my professors in my graduate program, Dr. Colleen Georges. She taught the counseling course in our student affairs master's program, and I also had the pleasure of taking a positive psychology course with her as well. I can see a lot of her amazing insights from the class in this book.

The book is organized around very broad topics such as work, love, and family among others. Then it gives a multitude of short stories from various authors within that topic. This provides a quick, engaging, relevant reading experience that drives the main points of the book home with the different vignettes. I found myself highlighting powerful quotes all over this book. It's a great inspiring read for anyone. I found the marriage and family portions to be less relevant to me but I know they would be useful for others.

This is also a very accessible entry point to positive psychology for anyone who is interested. It doesn't get too deep with any of the ideas or concepts, and if you're intrigued to learn more, you can opt to look for others works by the authors included in this book or do some research of your own.

I love positivity for the simple fact that is an empowering mindset to buy into. It encourages you to take charge of your own happiness and wellness, rather than wait for it to happen to you. This book shows you the how and the why behind optimism and positivity, so I highly recommend it.

Go check out Contagious Optimism and let me know what you think. You can get it from any of your favorite book retailers in whichever format you wish!

Thanks for stopping by!

The Language of Love & Leadership

5ll_logoI recently took this quiz at the behest of my partner. It seeks to show you, based on a series of questions, how you prefer to receive love. This can be used for romantic and platonic relationships alike and I have heard about it from both friends and work colleagues so I felt it was about time to check it out. Similar to a previous post of mine on leadership inventories like MBTI and StrengthsQuest, I found relevant connections to student affairs and leadership with this survey. Figuring out one's "love language" allows for an unique insight into how we prefer to receive praise, how we make connections with other people, and how we would prefer to achieve that precarious work/life balance, harmony, etc.

There are five love languages that you get varying point scores for (much like True Colors). The languages are physical touch, acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts, and words of affirmation. After taking the survey, I found my top languages to be quality time and words of affirmation. I found this to be highly accurate for myself. I really appreciate, in all my relationships, the opportunity to spend time with the people who are important to me even if that is just hanging out. I also very much appreciate when people tell me how they feel and even more so how I make them feel. I never really ask for the words of affirmation from people but I enjoy it when I get them.

Taking this survey allowed for me to objectively see what I need to feel loved, appreciated, and valued, at work and in life. Just like the other leadership inventories, it allows for a common language of leadership that can create better teams that are heard, understood, and given what they need to succeed.

Check the quick Love Languages survey here and make sure to have coworkers and partners take it too. It's really helpful!

As always, thanks for stopping by!

What I'm Geeking Out About This Week - 07/11/14

Geek-and-proudHey there!

Thanks for coming by! Here is what I'm geeking out about this busy week:

If you follow my blog, you know I'm excited for this movie. I've posted about it multiple times (here and here, at least). It has (as of the posting of this) a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and the 3D is apparently amazing as well. I'm going to go see it tomorrow some time and I'll be sure to share my thoughts with you all. You should see it too so you can share in the awesomeness that will be this movie!

A friend of mine up here in Maine (hooray for making friends!) invited me out to go see the original Body Snatchers movie out on a big screen at a park in town. I haven't seen this movie in a long time and it's a great sci-fi classic that has been remade multiple times. I think this will be a fun way to watch the movie, out with other sci-fi fans, outside on a beautiful night. I'm really looking forward to it!

  • Trivia

Something else I've gotten into since I got up to Maine with some of my coworkers is going to a local trivia night again. I went a ton when I was back in Delaware a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I am determined to win a night while I'm here just as I eventually did in Delaware, even if it takes me a year!

***So, a quick aside here. I'm working my full-time job now and I am going to keep hustling to keep a regular flow of content to you all. I always enjoy getting likes, comments, and feedback so any support you can give to keep me inspired as I'm figuring out a new life routine is very much appreciated. Every single one of you who comes to this site is special to me so I would love to hear from you.

All the best and thanks for stopping by,

- Dustin