Systems: Implementing Office Hours

Last year, I piloted the idea of hosting Office Hours and I was surprised at how popular my Office Hours were within my work community. Office Hours are an expectation within the academic community and I can remember sitting with my professors for tutoring, to discuss gaining their support for my job hunting efforts, and to discuss my approval (or disappointment) with my grade.

Last year, I hosted my Office Hours in person. Participants came to do everything from discussing time management tips to working on grant applications to fund their creative projects. Since Donda’s House does satellite programming, we don’t have our own space, which would be ideal for Office Hours or drop-in support. We are planning to offer both Office Hours and Drop-In Services when our new space opens, but until then, we had to figure out a way to be accessible for our students.

Here are some of the benefits of hosting office hours:

(1) You already have built time in your schedule to address urgent (but non-critical) issues that may arise. When people call, text, or e-mail, you can send them the link to your office hours that way you can still keep a handle on your schedule and productivity.

(2) You have a place to direct incoming inquiries (requests for meetings, pick your brain sessions and status updates).

(3) You have built in “Research & Development” (in corporate its called R & D) time. Fortune 500 companies all have built in strategies to innovate and ideate. As an entrepreneur you have to make sure that you are investing at least some of your time to researching and brainstorming.

We recently switched over to G-Suite. Within Google Calendar, there is an option to set Appointment Times. Once you set your Appointment Times, you can then e-mail out the link for people to sign up.

We also have a Conference Call Line, and I included that in the “description” section that way individuals with appointments know which number to call. We utilize Free Conference

In the case of my Office Hours, we can discuss whatever participants, staff or volunteers want to discuss and the appointment slots are 30 minutes. Participants are encouraged to sign up for two appointments back to back, if they think they need more time. Here is the participant view:


Here is what it looks like on the page to set up the appointment(s):


What’s great about this system is that you also have the option to e-mail those who have signed up for appointments from directly within Google Calendar.

Note: you have to have a G-Suite Account where you are either paying $5.00/user per month, or if you’re a nonprofit, you can apply for a free account via Google for Nonprofits here. The appointments feature does not work with the free Google Accounts.

You can also look into these tools:


Need To Meet

And here is a link to Multiple Tools that you can use, if you don’t want to use G-Suite.

In addition to using this tool internally to meet with our participants, our staff and our volunteers, I also plan to use it externally for people who want to meet.

At work, one of my internal goals for Quarter 1 is to really design systems and infrastructure to streamline communications, and this is one tool/process that will help in that effort.





Planning Your Life Using Hotspots

DSCN2229Caption: I decided to separate my personal phone from my business phone. Personal Phone is an iPhone 6S, business phone is a Blackberry Classic. 

I came across this idea of “hotspots” on the A Life of Productivity Blog. I like hotspots, because rather than using abstract descriptors for the areas of our lives, it uses pretty clear descriptors.

Here are the hotspots:

  1. Mind
  2. Body
  3. Emotions
  4. Career
  5. Fun
  6. Relationships
  7. Finances
  8. Spirituality

Because Faith is such an important component of my life I added “Spirituality” as a final hotspot.

STEP 2: 

From there I listed what each category means for me:

Mind: Reading, Education/Training, Strategic Thinking & Idea Generation

Body: Health, Sleep & Diet

Emotions: Regulation

Career: Fundraising, Programming, Marketing and Executive Development

Fun: Travel, Date Nights, Bucket List, Scrapbooking

Relationships: Social Time

Finances: Obligations & Savings

Spirituality: Prayer and Praise

Step 3: I created a list of 2016 goals under each hotspot. I specifically created 4 goals per hotspot. that way I could focus on specific goals each quarter. A long time ago, I started planning my goals and life according to quarters, which matches the business world. 3 months is enough time to make changes, and also to make corrections. A year is too long for me to wait to review the progress on my goals.

Step 4: Prioritize! Below are my goals for the first quarter of 2016.

Mind: Read daily for 30 minutes.

Body: Eat a piece of fruit every day.

Emotions/Spirituality (I combined these too): Keep an answered prayers jar.

Career: Meet with a mentor/thought partner once per month.

Fun: Scrapbook on Sundays/once per week.

Relationships: Send 1 “Thank You” note per month.

Finances: Set up & use frequent flyer miles on all major airlines.

Step 5: Set yourself up for success by including accountability. 

Accountability Check 1: I’m a visual person, so I plan to post my 1st Quarter Goals in strategic areas around my house:

In my office, in my planner

Accountability Check 2: Every Sunday I plan to evaluate my progress during my Weekly Review (the time that I review my calendar, scan and file documents, etc.)

Accountability Check 3: Schedule in my calendar with a pop up e-mail 3 months from now to review the status of my 1st quarter goals.

What are your goals for this year? What accountability measures do you set up to help set yourself up for success? 

Now I’m off to create my 2016 Vision Board. I’ll be back soon 😉

Note To Self: You Are A Human


“’No’ is a complete sentence.” – Anne Lamott

I had to have a real talk with myself this week and the subject of that talk was “you are a human.” 

When you spend so much time fighting for the humanity of others, you can sometimes treat yourself inhumane! 

As a human, I need sleep (at least 6 hours), regular meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks) and mental and emotional breaks from the “stuff” of life. I used to feel guilty about taking time to myself… surfing the net, watching Love & Hip Hop or even just staring into space. I’m learning to replace that “guilt” with entitlement… I work so hard that I am ENTITLED to a break. I earn the right to silence my phone sometimes; to let the stack of ungraded papers sit just one more day; to wait until the morning to clean all of those dirty dishes.

I definitely have SUPERPOWERS, but those superpowers are extra-ordinary HUMAN abilities – the ability to forgive those who have wronged me and move on, the ability to keep smiling even when I’m not in the mood to, the ability to crank out a written masterpiece in a matter of minutes, but those superpowers do not take away the physical, mental and emotional limitations of what it means to be a human.

We have to stop ignoring our bodies and our hearts. You can’t make the rest of the world honor and respect your humanity if you’re not setting the example. Happy November!