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

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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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Avoiding the Pitfalls of Slacktivism

Written by Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator

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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!

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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.
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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:
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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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Summer Intern: Meagan Nijenhuis!

We are so excited to welcome Meagan Nijenhuis as our summer intern! Full of passion, spunk and unwavering defense of the preborn, Meagan has served as the VP of University of Guelph’s club, Life Choice. She will be assisting NCLN with a number of projects, including Symposium planning and Summer Activism! In honor of her first day in the office, we thought we’d ask her a few questions…
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How did you first get involved in pro-life activism?

Completely and unexpectedly thrown in. I met Hanna Barlow, U of G Life Choice’s past president at a pro-life event and next thing I knew I was at an NCLN training session on campus. A month later I was the up and coming vice president. “Voluntelling” seems to be a thing in this world of activism.

Who inspires you and why?

Queen Esther. She defended the cause put before her, at immense cost to herself.

What are you most excited about doing during your internship with NCLN?

I am really looking forward to helping with research and planning for the Symposium in the fall. NCLN as an organization helps to save lives across the country so I’m super excited to join their office staff in the fight for life these next couple weeks.

What do you hope to do when you graduate from Guelph?

As it currently sits? I’ll hit up MacMaster University for a master’s so I can do physiotherapy while squeezing in pro-life work wherever possible. The most abortion-prone women are university age so it’s the people around me who need to hear the pro-life message. Maybe I should just stay a student forever…too bad my wallet doesn’t agree.

If NCLN staff came to your house for dinner, what kind of an evening would you plan?

Guelph has such great food, I’d have to take them out for dinner- probably at the Works, a fantastic burger place downtown. Then we’d get some ice cream at the Boathouse (yumm…Moosetracks!), go for a walk in Royal City Park and I’m sure they’d all love to see Church of Our Lady.

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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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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. 

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CAMPUS SPOTLIGHT: Trinity Western University Students for Life

 Building your Leadership Team 

Building a leadership team for your pro-life club can seem like a daunting task at first. The TWU Students for Life team has done a great job at developing a strong and active leadership  and we asked their outgoing club president, Joanna Krawczynski, to share some of her wisdom with you. 

And don’t forget that your NCLN staff members are here to help train and coach you as you lead your club! NCLN’s Western office, which happens to be located in Langley B.C. as well, has been able to work a lot with the club at TWU and it’s been exciting to see the fruits of that relationship.

Note: Trinity Western University is a Christian university, which changes the context in which the club operates. 

This post is part of a series that highlights the efforts, strategies and accomplishments of clubs across Canada. If there is something your club might like to share with the Pro-Life Student Movement of Canada, email kathleen@ncln.ca

 

As TWUSFL president, what part of your role excites you the most? 

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TWU Students for Life Club with Stephanie Gray

The team. I get to hang out with some of the most inspiring and talented people on campus.

What are your greatest challenges as a president? 

Self-confidence. It’s ironic that I would be my biggest challenge, but I’ve noticed that if I’m feeling down or fearful during a meeting, my team picks up on those feelings and reflects my discouragement. Discouragement, to say the least, is very counterproductive.

Your club meets on a weekly basis. What fruits have you seen from this commitment? 

Number one: commitment! Simply put, how things work at TWU, those who do not show up to meetings are not active on campus. Those who make the meetings are more easily roped into volunteering for things :). Also, delegation is a bit easier face-to-face. Another benefit to weekly meetings is the opportunity for team-building so that team members see each other not just as yoke-fellows but as friends: that’s the ideal. Further, weekly meetings serve to keep our focus clear, serving as a consistent reminder of who we are and what (or who) we stand for.

Again, this comes back to commitment: weekly meetings are a reminder that being pro-life doesn’t just happen once a year. If we want real change, we need pro-life work to be built into our regular schedules. For us, weekly meetings have also been a great opportunity to challenge, encourage, and refresh team members. It’s good to come together and realize – oh yeah, I’m not alone on the frontlines. 

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Joanna and Amanda running an outreach table at TWU

What does a club meeting agenda usually look like? 

  1. Welcome and prayer
  2. Checking in with team members on a personal level: this usually involves a creative activity, like a round of telephone pictionary to share weekend stories or having members choose a random office supply to describe how they are feeling. (~15 min.)
  3. Club updates or a brief discussion of relevant current events (~10 min.)
  4. Debrief of recent event, preparation for an upcoming event, or brainstorming of a new event (~20 min.)
  5. Flexible space for questions or comments: allowing team members to share ideas or concerns that they’ve been wrestling with (eg. Had a difficult conversation with a friend that didn’t go over very well – what could I have done?). (~10 min.)
  6. Closing activity/thought/video, if time permits, depending on what team members need most: if the team is feeling disillusioned, maybe a motivational quote is in order. If team members are getting caught up in school stresses, a gentle challenge by way of a video is helpful. (~5 min.)
  7. Sharing prayer requests and closing with prayer

 Also, food is always appreciated, at any point during the meeting – even little, relatively inexpensive snacks like a bag of oranges or chocolate-covered nuts, unless you’ve got allergies.

In what ways do you foster good relationships among your team members?

Probably first and foremost by setting an example of deep respect for others which sets the tone of the meeting. Also, some of my team members don’t see each other outside team meetings, so it is important to provide space in team meetings for genuine relationships to be built (eg. by establishing prayer partners). I’d also like to incorporate off-campus club events, such as a team brunch or dessert night, into our schedules: this would also facilitate relationship-building, as we can build friendships that are not dependent on weekly meetings.

If you could give one tip to other pro-life club presidents, what would it be?

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Joanna and pro-life activist, Linda Gibbons

Have the courage to be humble. One article explains that having true humility is not being trampled like an old rug: rather, being humble means being unafraid to share truth or to spend time with those who are not quite your type: you aren’t worried about souring your reputation. Being humble means to persevere, to keep on keeping on, even though you know you can’t save lives with only your own two arms. This can be frustrating, realizing that you can’t do it all yourself, but sometimes feeling very alone. 

But you are not doing this alone. You are part of a team: being courageously humble also means asking for help when you need help. Don’t let angry people extinguish your courage or the courage of your teammates. Invest in each member (eg. take time to write interesting emails, ask them how they’re doing, check in with them if you haven’t seen them for a while). Courage can be highly contagious. Use that to your advantage. And know that, over here at TWU, we’re praying for you and your teams. Stand firm!

Thank you, Joanna, for your genuine dedication to the pro-life movement and your investment in your club members at TWU. You are truly forming leaders by your own beautiful example of leadership! 

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