fbpx

NCLN Staff’s 5 Favourite Tools for Personal & Group Organization

girl studying

Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director

We all know that time management and organization are critical life skills. What we also should remember is that they can also be critical life-saving skills, because they allow us to have a successful pro-life presence on campus.

Different strategies and tools work for different people (and we’d love to hear about your best tips and tricks), but the staff of NCLN have a few favourite online tools that help our team members stay on track individually and (though we’re separated by 3 provinces) collaborate and get projects done together.

And did we mention that these are all FREE online tools?

(5) Evernote

Great for keeping organized class notes or club notes or any kind of notes. These notebooks are your new best friend. Download the app for your laptop, tablet, and smartphone (or log in online) and your synchronized notebooks are available wherever you need it. New features include being able to share notebooks and send chats within the app.

(4) Doodle 

You’ve probably heard us recommend Doodle before. It’s an incredibly simple scheduling tool that allows you to find the best time for your team to meet up. We use it for board, committee, and student meetings and we know of student groups using it across the nation.

(3) Worklogs/Pomodoro Technique 

Okay, this isn’t technically an online tool, but we have our worklogs as spreadsheets online so…we’re going to include it on the list. Our worklogs are formatted so that our time is divided up by 30 minute segments to allow for 15 minute power work sessions, with recap and review (the Pomodoro technique). We can easily schedule how we want to spend our time in a day, and then update the schedule as we go along to reflect how the time actually was spent. This is helpful for maintaining focus, getting tasks done, and staying on top of projects. Click here for a schedule template!

(2) Google docs, calendars, hangouts

More and more, our staff team using Google docs to collaborate on documents and other apps to stay organized or talk/message each other about projects. It’s an easy way to comment on documents, suggest changes, or just brainstorm together. You can also use a shared folder to keep track of meeting minutes and important club documents that all of the executive members need to access.

(1) Asana

A project management tool, Asana has been very helpful for our team. You can have separate workspaces on personal projects and for your organization or group’s projects. We use it to create timelines for projects and campaigns, assign tasks to specific team members, comment and collaborate on particular issues, and check tasks off as they get done. (And doesn’t it feel great to check things off?!) There’s a lot of functionality in this tool you might enjoy using for your team – check it out.

All in all…

none of these tools will magically turn you into super-disciplined productive machines, and not every day will be as productive as we had hoped (and there is a time and a place for Netflix). But our team has found them helpful and we hope you and your team does too.

 

 

Image by Brian Smith, CC 2.0
Share Button

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Slacktivism

Written by Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator

2 Person Challenge banner

Have you fallen prey to the slacktivist mentality?

Wikipedia tells us that the term slacktivism “describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it take satisfaction from the feeling they have contributed.”

Examples? Signing an online petition, ‘liking’ a Facebook post, re-tweeting an article, or sharing a video or an article on your page. These are all activities that, although they may be well intentioned evolve around good causes, cannot substitute old-fashioned, real-world active participation in a cause. These “actions” may ease our guilt of being inactive in a cause, but one cannot simply “like” a Facebook post and then wipe our hands and say our work is done. However: this could be a good first step.

Can we use this slacktivist mentality for the greater good?

We need to meet people where they are at right now. Given our technology-saturated culture, most people are probably currently on their computers or smartphones. So let’s start where they are, and move them to action with a touch of their screen or a click of a mouse. But I know that human beings are capable of much more than moving their fingers.

Don’t get me wrong – keep liking and sharing our NCLN Facebook posts and re-tweeting our tweets! Your social media feed may be the first and only place that someone in your network hears the pro-life message. But don’t stop there. Talk face to face with someone about what you have heard or learned.

My challenge to you:

READ this post. LIKE it on our National Campus Life Network page. SHARE it on your page. But don’t stop there. I challenge you to speak to TWO PEOPLE this week about abortion. They could be friends or classmates who you’ve never spoken to about the issue, or even the person next to you on the bus.  Share your truth-sharing conversations with the hashtag #2PersonChallenge – you’ll be surprised as to what a difference one conversation can make in someone’s attitude towards abortion. Share these stories on social media and in the comments below!

Your story can be a simple impacting moment, such as this student’s story:

After telling my classmate that I was headed to a pro-life club meeting, I asked her what she thought about abortion. After I discussed the humanity of the pre-born with her, she was amazed at their development so early in the pregnancy, and couldn’t believe that there are no abortion laws in Canada! #2PersonChallenge

Move your club members to action, as well as those two people you reach out to, by encouraging them to take up the #2PersonChallenge as well! If each of us takes on this challenge, think of how our efforts will multiply!

Share Button

1 Million and 1 Reasons to Have Weekly Planning Meetings

Rebecca Richmond, Executive Directorplanning meetings meme

A look of horror is sometimes what I get when I give pro-life campus leaders a critical recommendation for improving their club – both in the sense of developing a larger club membership AND in terms of effectiveness on campus: weekly planning meetings. I can imagine what’s running through their minds:

“club planning meetings are long and exhausting and I don’t have any more time and everyone’s already overwhelmed and people forget about meetings and wouldn’t it be easier to do it all over email anyway and…this will never work.”

But hear me out: from personal experience and from years of experience with students nationally, I can tell you that they will actually make your life easier, not harder. And they work. And when there are 300 pre-born lives being destroyed through abortion daily, a weekly meeting doesn’t seem like that big of a sacrifice.

 But if you need some compelling reasons to convince your fellow club members of the need for weekly planning meetings, we’ve got you covered:

(1) Consistency Cuts Down on the Time You Spend Organizing Meetings:

 Does it sometimes seem like it takes eons to organize a meeting with your team members? And then half the people forget and don’t even show up? Weekly meetings helps cut down organizing time AND people are less likely to forget.

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 1.13.08 AM
The Amazing Doodle Tool!

Because, if you’re meeting at the same time and the same location every week, it becomes a regular part of their schedule, like a class or extracurricular activity. And it saves time because you don’t have to deal with massive email threads every couple weeks to figure out a meeting time/date! Depending on your school’s set-up, you might even be able to book that timeslot/location one time for the entire semester!

Organize the weekly meetings in advance by having the club secretary set-up a Doodle, the club exec members can fill in their availability according to their class schedule, and you can find the best time for the most amount of people. Then stick to that time/day/location for the rest of the semester!

* Extra tip: One student leader recommends texting members before the weekly meeting. It “reminds your members that they are important as you’re reaching out to them to check if they’re coming.”

(2) Delegating tasks is easier and tasks actually get done:

 It’s much much easier to divvy up tasks during a group discussion in-person, rather than over email. And consider when people (including yourself) actually do the tasks they were delegated – probably the day before, morning of, or 5 minutes before the meeting. So, if you’re meeting weekly, generally speaking, tasks are going to get done on a weekly basis at the very least. Planning, staying on top of your activities, and seeing your goals become realities depend on work getting done regularly (weekly!).

(3) More fun: 

Seriously. If you’re meeting weekly, your meetings are going to be shorter (in most cases, keep it under an hour!), less frustrating, and less overwhelming. Your weekly meeting should feel like a boost to your week as you reconnect with your team members, encourage one another in your pro-life mission (both in terms of your club activities and in your classes, among your friends, etc.), and feel a sense of accomplishment as you stay on track with your goals.

(4) It actually works:

In my own experience and in the experience of students we’ve worked with nationwide, weekly meetings actually work. Every time a club has started weekly meetings, good things happen. But don’t take my word for it, or the rest of the NCLN staff members’ word, or the word of other student leaders – just try it. Contact your NCLN Campus Coordinator with any questions you might have about running weekly meetings or even have us Skype in on some of your meetings for 10-20 minutes to help out with planning, give feedback, and answer questions!

(5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…..a million…and 1) It’s worth it:

We’re all busy people, balancing school with part-time jobs, family, friends, and extra-curriculars. But if we know that 100,000 abortions are taking place in Canada each year, if we know that our age demographic is undergoing the most abortions in Canada, if we know that our universities matter in terms of building a true Culture of Life, then taking an hour each week to unite as a team and work on making a difference is not too much to ask.

Share Button

Faces of the Pro-Life Movement

Written by Meagan Nijenhuis, Summer Intern

faces blog meme

The Symposium introduced me to the people working the front lines of the Pro-Life Movement: other students leading campus clubs from across Canada and men and women leading organizations full-time. The people were so incredibly friendly; they were absolutely delighted to meet you. And when I went on the Florida GAP tour in February, my travel-weary self was immediately greeted by at least 4 different smiling faces asking me: “Would you like to play cards?”, “How was your flight?” “When did you last eat?”, “Oh, wait… what’s your name? Where are you from?”. Our Movement is all about loving and caring for people. We see the value in the person next to us.

But how do people on the outside see us?

They are fed the popular media’s bias. To them, we are the cold-hearted “anti-aborts” with the sole desire of withholding rights from women. We are stereotyped. Many assumptions are made. Let’s bust this stereotype and show our campuses the true faces of the Pro-Life Movement.

This is just another reason to do more activism on your campus: more and more people will have the, “Oh, I didn’t expect to have such a great conversation with you” moment. They won’t be able to paint our smiling faces with a negative stereotype anymore. When they read about the Movement in the media, they’ll have that personal connection.

547466_10150885269103028_1971090497_n
The first time many people on your campus will personally meet someone from the Pro-Life Movement is at your pro-life event, whether it be tabling, clip-boarding, running a debate or having a speaker come in. How will you change their perspective of you? I was taught by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform that “It doesn’t necessarily matter what you say to them but how you treat them. That’s what they’ll remember.” Not everyone is easy to connect and communicate with but it’s absolutely imperative that we have the same love and value for the person we’re defending the preborn children’s cause to as we have for the preborn children themselves. There’s no way they will even begin to take you seriously if you don’t make loving them a top priority.

One of the ultimate ways to show you value them is to listen intently (rather than just waiting to speak). Understand their concerns. There may be a lot that they’re not telling you. With Canada’s 26 years of entirely unlegislated abortion, many have been direct victims of the culture of death. Many young people know a woman who’s had an abortion: a family friend, their own mother or even themselves. With the highest number of abortions being performed on women of university age, we are ministering to people who’ve been ravaged by “choice.” These young men and women desperately need a smiling open face and a listening heart. And that’s where we come in.

 

Share Button

Reflection on Virtuous Leadership

Written by Meagan Nijenhuis, 2014 Summer Intern

I was pumped. I’d made the long trek into Toronto: boarded the train in Guelph, was delayed 27 minutes by construction along the tracks, survived the crush of people arriving at Union, found the Northbound subway to Eglinton (Note: sometimes the flow of traffic isn’t going to the same place that you need to go), wove my way from the subway up to the light of day, headed through more construction down the road to the office, marched up the stairs (who does elevators?) and finally arrived at the office to the lovely, smiling ladies of NCLN. Woot! Made it!

We started going over what I’d be doing for the next six weeks and Rebecca handed me some additional reading: “Virtuous Leadership” by Alexandre Havard. “It’s a bit dry,” she said, “but a good read.” It looked dry. I figured I would get it over and done with so I started reading it on the train home. What an eye-opening treasure it was! A literary work of art, it unpacked the virtues that are necessary for effective leadership.

And oh did I need to hear it. I’ll be taking up the position of president for the Life Choice club at Guelph this fall. That’s just a tad intimidating. When you have a pro-life club to lead this often means dealing with chanting pro-choicers and challenging student unions, learning about all your club members so you know how best to delegate tasks, and holding meetings and activism several times a month. Havard had a few lessons to teach me about leadership.

virtuous leadershipTrue leadership is inextricably tied to a virtuous character. When we have virtue, we have the ability to turn our dream into reality. People will want to join us in bringing our dream to our campus and we’ll be able to empower them to that end. As Havard puts it, “the more deeply we live the virtues,… the more likely it is that we will change the culture.” The campus culture currently reeks of individualism, immorality and death. Only with virtue can we change the hearts and minds of the students around us.

As leaders we must live the virtues. Havard explains that with magnanimity we devote ourselves so generously to a cause that we give our very selves. We hold nothing back from our work and our zeal becomes contagious. The people on campus are more likely to pay attention when they see our hearts in it. Practicing humility, we seek to empower those around us by delegating tasks and training members so that we are not irreplaceable. Prudence critically analyzes what is the best way to make the biggest impact on campus. To carry forward these actions, we need courage, not just boldness and daring, but endurance in the the daily grind. Self- control is choosing to do what is necessary (like club accreditation *gag*) when we’d much prefer a trip to William’s with our club members. We need to be students of human nature to bring justice with love. We have this duty to everyone around us. Character ingrained with these virtues will make us the leaders our campus needs.

At Guelph, we have between 15 and 20 committed members who try to make it out to our weekly meetings. What Havard helped me to see in the virtues of humility and justice was that between the past president and myself, we were trying to lead the club alone. All our club members had to do was come and learn. We actually owe them so much more; our duty is to empower them as leaders. If I start delegating tasks, they will have so much more room to grow. We can be an unstoppable force on campus, reaching so many more people!

Our campus also needs us to be individuals, appreciating the unique qualities of each individual club member and of every person we bring the message to on campus. Justice requires it. If we are individualistic, however, we are ruined. We need to be unique while remaining interconnected. Please excuse the science major in me but I’d like to demonstrate with an analogy. We are like the zooids of a pyrosome (Say whaaaaaat?). This deep sea colony (the pyrosome) is essentially made up of thousands of tiny interconnected organisms (the zooids). The physical connection as well as the light sensitivity of each zooid creates bioluminescence so that the whole colony is aglow. We need similar relationships in order to help each other emit the light of the pro-life message in the dark waters of our campus.

Leadership is more than being able to stand up and talk to a crowd of people. It takes serious effort to develop ourselves into virtuous and excellent leaders but it’s so worth it. We will be able see the leaders growing around us, the hearts being changed, and the message of life blowing away the stench of the death culture on campus. Together, by becoming virtuous leaders, we will be able to make our dream a reality and end abortion in our lifetime.

Havard, Alexandre. Virtuous Leadership: An Agenda for Personal Excellence. New York: Scepter, 2007. Print.
Share Button

Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow

Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator

This summer, do yourself a favour: on a sunny day, go find a quiet place in a park or by a lake or ocean, take a notebook with you, and spend 30 min reflecting on this. I can guarantee the time you put into it now will benefit you ten times more in the long run!
become the kind
The following excerpts are taken from the article Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow. This article provides great insights into how we can grow as the leaders we are called to be. Reflect on the quotes and the questions to see where you can improve yourself so you can better lead others in sharing the pro-life message on your campus.

Leadership is an expression of your heart and soul. To become a leader, you need to know your higher purpose and believe in it passionately.

• What would you say your higher purpose is? Do you live a consistent life where your actions are in line with this purpose?
• Does your role in the pro-life club help you achieve this purpose?

Leaders need to feel comfortable in their own skin. It begins with the ability to explore and share one’s life story by helping people understand how we all mesh together for a meaningful journey. You intentionally begin to discover your authentic self by connecting with who you really are. Authentic leaders are not power driven but meaning driven people.

• What brings meaning to your life? How would you articulate this to others?
• How does your role in the pro-life club bring more meaning to your life?

As a leader you need to be fully committed to nurturing the well-being and commanding the trust of the people around you. Only in the context of a meaningful relationship can people feel empowered and inspired to demonstrate their greatest potential.

• Identify 2 students who you will meet up with for coffee this summer, taking the time to get to know them more so you can better work together in the pro-life club this upcoming year.
• What potential do you see in these students? Help them see how they can develop this by participating in the club.

The vision and direction of a team [is] about the ability of the leader to capture the big WHY in the hearts and minds of others. People rally behind a strong vision when they know WHY they doing what they doing.

• Why do you do what you do with the pro-life club? How do you articulate this to others?
• Do you truly believe in the vision of your club? “If you don’t get goose bumps telling others where our life is heading, your vision isn’t compelling enough to shape your behaviour.”* Is your vision compelling enough to inspire others to action?
As you start to look at the upcoming school year, keep these reflection points in mind. Are you approaching your leadership position in the pro-life club with the right heart? Are you the kind of person others want to follow?

*Mike Figliuolo in Let’s make leadership real again. Stanford, CA: Change This. (2012).
 

Be sure to talk to your Campus Coordinator about your leadership goals and plans! We’d love to work with you to help you achieve them!

 

Share Button

It’s Worth It

Clarissa Canaria, Central Campus Coordinator

Mary Ward SFL
Clarissa and Mary of Mary Ward Students for Life

“It’s been a challenging few weeks,” said Mary to me when I had visited her high school this past school year.  She had stumbled upon NCLN’s website because she was looking for support and resources to start a pro-life club.  We had been in touch over the last few months, and in January, the club was approved.

“Friends who were supportive of the club at first backed away when we they realized we as a club were very much anti-abortion in all circumstances,” she continued.  “I mean, we’re still friends, but it’s not the same. Something in the way we have talked has changed.”

I am sure those of us involved in the pro-life movepment have experienced some variation of this.  I am also certain that many people out there that want to do more for preborn children are fearful of these kinds of changes.  I used to ask myself these questions all the time: What will my friends think of me?  How do I make them understand how important this is to me?  How do I express my thoughts in a way they’ll understand?

Before I could reply, ready to share my own thoughts and experiences, Mary added cheerfully: “It’s okay though. I know it’s worth it.”

Mary has realized what I wish I had realized sooner: with 100,000 babies in the womb being killed every year in our country and countless more men and women hurt by abortion the changes in our personal relationships, whether temporary or permanent, often pale in comparison. 

Though I still get nervous telling people I first meet about my work, I am reminded that they may never hear about the pro-life issue and the destruction abortion brings if I don’t talk about it.  When family members ask how my work is going, I share the challenges and the hope it brings to my life with joy.  When someone asks me with concern, “Do you really think you can change the culture and end abortion?” I think about the people whose lives have been changed for the better by the pro-life student leaders I serve, my incredible colleagues, and the pro-life movement at large, and answer with a resounding “Yes”.

Do we wish more people understood?  Definitely.  Do we want people to like us?  Sure.  Should setbacks and sacrifices in our relationships hinder us from sharing the truth?

Absolutely not.  Because it’s worth it.

 

……………………………..

(If you would like to get involved in pro-life activism this summer and in the upcoming semester, or have any questions, contact me at central@ncln.ca and check out www.ncln.ca/events/SummerActivism)

(To those whose lives are impacted regularly by the joys and challenges that come with my own full-time pro-life work, and to the friends and family who may at times be at odds with what I do but still bless me with their support and their time, this post was written with you in mind, in immense gratitude.  A special thanks to Mary as well for the inspiration she has been to me in her great resolve and courage to bring the pro-life message to her high school – which she has done quite successfully!)

Share Button

Transitioning Your Club Leadership

Leadership transitions are about more than having elections and then moving all of the club materials from the corner of your bedroom to the corner of someone else’s! A successful transition is key to helping the new leaders build off of your successes. The following are a few important items to go over with the new club leaders:

RELATIONSHIPS

Connect new club leaders to:

  • The local community pro-life organizations and leaders (A simple email or a quick visit can go a long way to ensuring they maintain those relationships and know where to go for support.);
  • NCLN’s local Campus Coordinator;
  • Other clubs that are sympathetic and supportive;
  • Any donors who have regularly assisted the club;
  • The rest of your club exec!

A Club Executive outing is a great way to build connections (and take a well-needed break from studying for exams!).

HOW-TO’S OF THE SCHOOL

Ensure new leaders know how to:

  • Re-apply for club status;
  • Create a budget, submit receipts to the student society and receive reimbursements;
  • Get posters approved;
  • Book tables and events.

Distribute these tasks throughout the club executive. Ideally these types of transitions are done throughout the school year as more experienced club members mentor other students who will take on leadership roles.  

HOW-TO’S OF CLUB MANAGEMENT

Ensure new leaders:

  • Know how to chair a club meeting (from sending out a club agenda, to keeping the meeting on task, delegating responsibilities, and taking meeting minutes); (President & VP)
  • Know how to run the club email account (and discuss email etiquette! For example, always bcc: your contacts when sending a mass email.) (Club secretary + president/VP)
  • Review the club constitution and bylaws; (all leaders!)
  • Have had the signing authority for the bank account transferred to them and understand the ins and outs about dealing with the bank account. (Club treasurer + either VP or president).

PLANNING

Upcoming events:

  • March for Life: Who’s going? How are you going to get there? And who’s registered for the NCLN Student Dinner?!
  • Summer: What should the leaders be doing to prepare for the fall? (club meeting, workshops with NCLN, fundraising letters, pro-life reading)
  • Fall semester: What worked well in the past? What are some ideas for next year and how will you accomplish them?
  • Club days, university welcome BBQ’s/orientation days: How will you have a pro-life presence at these events?
  • NCLN Symposium: Who will you send?

Remember: NCLN and your local Campus Coordinators are here to help with the transition! Be sure to be in touch! We can set up a phone call with you, Skype into a meeting and might even be able to come by in person. 

Share Button