This month features Jennifer Nicholls, Online Learning Systems Specialist with Technology, Media and Professional Programs at the Robson Square campus of UBC Continuing Studies.
Thriving Campus features, testimonials, contributions and personal experiences from UBC staff, faculty and students.
What strategies do you use in your work life to help you thrive?
We spend approximately eight hours a day at work, ideally eight hours sleeping, which leaves eight hours for everything else. Therefore I feel that since I spend one-third of my day at work, it’s important to make it enjoyable. To me, that means I need to have a sense of purpose, people to support and interact with, and ways to take a break.
To find a sense of purpose, I like to balance working on things I’m experienced in and confident working on (where I’m the expert), with learning something new that I’m not as comfortable working on (where I’m the amateur) but need to improve. It helps me get a bigger picture of what’s going on, and allows me to “see the forest for the trees.” It also challenges me, as I sometimes feel more comfortable just sticking with what I know.
As for having people to support and interact with (and taking a break), I enjoy going out of the office and trying new coffee break locations, going for a walk at lunch, or doing a stretch routine either in an empty class room or outside (even with people walking by). I have rounded up office-mates to join me for a stretch at lunch. More recently, the office as a whole joined forces across units to bring in a lunch time yoga instructor once a week. I do find that it makes a positive difference. I keep a yoga mat on hand (and a change of clothing) in the office just in case the opportunity arises. I find I also enjoy meeting people in different units, even if it’s just to say a friendly “hello” while passing in the hallway.
While the bulk of my work is in front of a computer, I am fortunate that there are parts where I can take my laptop out of the office and sit in a main common area, or print a document off for editing/review and take it to a new environment.
These options aren’t always available, and I sometimes struggle with motivation to do an activity, but I have found that I feel better afterwards (100% of the time). As an alternative at times, I take a reading break and read a few pages of whatever book currently has my attention on my e-reader.
What strategies do you use in your personal life to help you thrive?
Outside of work, I’ve been involved with Ultimate (Frisbee) for a number of years. I play and coach. I enjoy both getting the activity and introducing others to the sport. It has been a huge part of my adult life and I owe much to the sport. I play for fun in the local Vancouver Ultimate League, and sometimes travel for competition (both locally and internationally). I am working on transitioning to new sports, and to that end I enjoy hiking and trail riding/running, and have signed up for Leg 2 of the Death Race (in Grande Cache, AB). I tried sea kayaking last summer and would like to do more of that in future.
It’s not a secret that exercise makes it easier to “thrive”, it just seems a question of motivation. I motivate myself by incorporating exercise into other things. For example, biking to work is a refreshing alternative to a packed skytrain—I have to get to work, and if I bike, it’s like an early morning spin-class. If I want to go to sunny beach destination, I look for a destination with an Ultimate tournament so I spend the days on the field getting exercise, and enjoying the beach and the new destination either after games or stay an extra day.
A self-confessed lifelong learner, Jennifer enjoys helping others learn and finding ways to reach their goals In her free time she is an avid sportsperson having captained, coached and played at all levels while advocating the importance of being a good teammate and communicating under pressure.