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National Campus Life Network > Blog > club management

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
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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.

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5 Ways to Actually Welcome September

It’s almost the end of August.

And with those words, students everywhere are gasping in horror. WHERE HAS THE SUMMER GONE?!!! If it’s nearly the end of August then… SEPTEMBER IS NEXT!

If this realization feels as if a locker full of textbooks, course packs, and pro-life club brochures just crushed your soul, don’t panic. Take 2 deep breaths and read on:
5 ways september blog meme
Although there is a lot that goes into a school semester filled with pro-life campus activism…and actual schoolwork, you can relax by doing 5 simple things THIS week to take the pressure off.

1. Get the ball rolling by organizing your WEEKLY exec meetings now.

Ask your club secretary to take the lead on this by setting up a Doodle to figure out the best meeting day/time. Your club secretary should also follow-up with members until they give their availability and then report back on the best options.

In many cases, your exec members will already have their schedules and you can get this task out of the way early; if they don’t yet have their schedules, find out when they will have them and create a reminder in your phone/calendar so that you can start the process in a couple weeks or so.

2. Remind your club members about applying for the NCLN Symposium.

The earlier your members apply, the more time they’ll have to secure funding to offset the costs. Have you sent out a general email about this to your membership? Have you personally encouraged members to attend? Should YOU attend? Click here for details!

3. Get set for Clubs Days/Orientation Days/Frosh Week

by booking a table and organizing people to prepare the needed materials. It’s a simple task but important. Need help with your table? Check out NCLN’s Tabling Guide!

4. Do you need to re-register your club to maintain club status?

Look up the dates now to make sure you don’t miss any deadlines. (If you are interested in starting a club, contact your Campus Coordinator today to get their help as you begin the process!)

5. Talk to an NCLN staff member!

Our Campus Coordinators are here to help you stay on top of tasks like these. Just give us a shout and we’d be thrilled to talk to you and/or your entire club by email/phone/Skype/text or in-person and help you prepare for the upcoming semester. Our staff also comes on campus to offer training and assistance – contact us to schedule a Campus Visit!

Spend a few minutes on these tasks and you can get your fall semester off to a great start. And don’t forget that we’re here to help!

 

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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!

 

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