Reflect, Re-claim, Reconnect:
Learning to Say Yes Wisely and Strategically

A version of this course was held at the CHI2017 conference.

Academics often report becoming increasingly overwhelmed with work and are often told to learn to say ‘no’ more often.
In this course we will explore strategies for how to say ‘yes’ wisely and strategically, re-claiming some control of how we spend our time and energy, while still being part of and contributing to peer communities (faculty, peers etc.) – to work and serve strategically. It is about making proactive choices, learning to say ‘yes’ to what is important, which then provides the necessary basis for learning to say ‘no’ with purpose.

By the end of this course, it is expected that you will understand:

  • Your values and what is important to you – as a basis for decision making

  • Practical strategies for how to evaluate choices and make yes/no decisions

  • Practical tools to manage self-care

Practical Work
This course will take place across three 80-minute sessions (NOTE: we will be creative about the final session so that you don't have miss too much of the conference). The format of the course will be highly interactive.

Session 1: Reflect
The first session is about going back to basics and providing space for participants to individually reflect on their core values and what makes for a meaningful life. The aim of this session is to define in broad terms the things that are important to say yes to across all areas of life. You will not be required to share the details of these exercises but can participate in discussions more generally.

Session 2: Re-claim
The second session is about getting practical. We will explore why we might feel the need to say yes more than we can handle and, on the other side, when and why it is good to say yes. This leads to practical strategies such as: scheduling all areas of life, how to create a pause before answering requests, how to evaluate requests against values, purpose and existing commitments etc., and how to say no.

Session 3: Reconnect
The third session will focus on practical personal tools to reconnect the self through good self-care practices.  A variety of self-care options will be explored based on your interests, covering exercise, social life, creativity outlets and so on. This sessions will involve a mix of participant-led discussion, and demonstration and practical experience.
The final activity will involve each person creating their own action plan for how they plan to build self-care into their own routines.

Post Course:
You will be offered the possibility to participate in a dedicated follow-up virtual session two months after the course, e.g., using Zoom (max 50 participants), including the small group breakout feature of Zoom. Two dates will be provided if there are more than 50 interested people.

Instructor Background
Geraldine Fitzpatrick is a full professor at TU Wien in Austria and an ACM Distinguished Scientist and ACM Distinguished Speaker. She has 8 years experience as a trained coach (personal, professional, group). She has an extensive background in managing people in diverse contexts: research groups and institutes/labs in academic contexts, and as a charge nurse of various hospital departments (before her academic career) and as a Senior Manager of User Experience in industry. She has a deep understanding of the challenges and issues facing young academics through participating in numerous doctoral consortia and through informal mentoring. She is passionate about enabling people to connect to what is meaningful to them and enabling people to connect together for community and change. Motivated by seeing the increasing pressures and stress that so many academics are experiencing, she has also started a podcast series called ‘Changing Academic Life’ where a common theme has been the issue of work demands.

Suggested pre-course listening
Listen to Mary Czwerinski talk about values – at around 25 mins: