Professor Destressor eNews
Combining productive work lives and balanced personal lives
Winter 2014

Our goal is to bring you news, insights, and information about leading a balanced and productive life while making a difference.

In this issue, you'll find:

  1. Smart Professors - Part II - Even Smarter
  2. The Peak Performing Professor
  3. Professor Destressor Workshops and coaching
  4. Up and coming workshops

1. Smart Professors - Part II - Even Smarter

You might have noticed a two years gap since the last Professor Destressor Newsletter. During that time, I took a sabbatical from some of my professional responsibilities to complete a book ( that was published by Jossey Bass in October 2013. Since many of the ideas inside that book were shaped from content from workshops and previous issues of this newsletter, I am grateful to all of you who have sent notes of encouragement over the years.

The book was a challenging project, requiring me to integrate five disparate areas of performance research into a practical book that would help faculty become more productive and happier. At the beginning of the book project, I often wished that I was just a little bit smarter so that the writing and thinking would go better. The project made me aware of how important it is for professors to work at their peak.

You should want to be smarter for two reasons: your own sake, because as you handle your academic responsibilities quicker and better you will have time and energy to create a great life, and for the sake of higher education, because the smarter you are, the more creatively you will contribute to your discipline and to the quality of instruction at your institution.

I know how much professors value being smart because the last newsletter, about the role of exercise in making professors smarter, got more response than any other topic I have written about. That newsletter began a series describing the SANER practices that help professors get and stay smart with E of SANER for exercise. The current issue continues the series with the topic of how good sleep practices, the S of SANER, makes you smarter.

Sleep, Perchance to Dream

One shortcut that professors often take when they are overwhelmed and stressed is to cut down on sleep. That turns out to be a big mistake. Sleep deprivation causes:

By the way, your sleep deprived students will do poorer on at least one of their work tasks, taking exams, than if they got a normal night sleep. Whenever appropriate you might consider discussing the effects of sleep deprivation and how much better you feel since you started getting more sleep.

Professors often develop sleep deprivation habits during crises in graduate school when they are pushing to reach deadlines on dissertations and other projects and then continue those habits after the crisis calms down and start their professorial careers.

The cumulative effect of this bad habit can shorten the years of your life and can decrease the life in your years.

Why We Need Sleep

For decades, scientists have not been sure why we actually need to sleep. They knew the negative effects of sleep deprivation such as those listed above but only inferred the benefits of sleep by examining research results such as these:

Guidelines for Restful Sleep

Help nature along by allowing your brain to get the maximum benefit from your time in bed.

Changing Bad Habits

  1. It may take up to three weeks to clear out a serious sleep debt. Be patient. You should start feeling better immediately but with regular sleep you can continue to improve for a few weeks.

  2. Try to allow natural sleepiness and a relaxing evening to produce enough sleepiness to fall asleep. Don’t use chemical sleep aids including alcohol; they have a potential for dependency and they produce unnatural sleep patterns that do not restore your brain’s depletion.

  3. Go to bed and get up at approximately the same time each day. If you stay up late on weekends, resist the temptation to sleep later. Instead, prevent what is known as “social jet lag” by continuing with the same waking time. Even though you may feel a little sleepy on the weekend, this strategy encourages a natural sleep-wake cycle that ensures that you will be alert and smart during your work week.


Healthy sleep hygiene habits will help you work more productively and happily.

Susan Robison

2. The Peak Performing Professor: A Practical Guide to Productivity and Happiness

Drawing on research from the fields of neuroscience, faculty development, work productivity, positive psychology, and resilience, The Peak Performing Professor is filled with techniques, strategies, and practical tools for managing the complexities of academic life while maximizing professional potential. This much-needed resource reveals the four skill sets (PACE) that enhance peak performance and shows faculty step-by-step how to:

To help develop these essential skills, the book contains exercises that can help faculty to hone their abilities to anchor their work, roles, and use of time in their most deeply held values; to integrate their personal and professional lives into a seamless whole; to experience more work-life balance; and, ultimately, to create a legacy of a life well-lived. Administrators will also find the book a useful tool for guiding their faculty to produce, stay engaged, and experience job satisfaction.

3. Professor Destressor Workshops and Coaching

About the publisher: Susan Robison, Ph.D. is a psychologist and an independent educator. She is professor of psychology at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland and offers services as a professional coach, speaker, author and seminar leader. She loves to coach professionals who want improvement in:

If you are feeling stuck on the way to your ideal life, give Susan a call for a complementary half-hour coaching session.

Susan provides keynotes and seminars to colleges, universities and professional organizations on the topics of:

She offers her audiences a follow-up coaching session because she knows that workshops don’t work… unless the participants apply their learnings.

Contact Susan for your coaching, speaking, or seminar needs at or at 410-465-5892.

3. Up and coming workshops

Now that my book is published, I am now available for presentations on how faculty can increase their productivity and happiness to conferences and universities. So far I will be working in May for any universities in Georgia and Virginia that might want to invite me to offer a seminar and/or consultations. August and October are filling up quickly but the rest of the year still has openings for presentations on the above topics. Contact me if your conference or college/university needs a presenter on any of the topics listed above.

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Professor Destressor e-Newsletter is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Coaching should not be construed as a form of, or substitute for, counseling, psychotherapy, legal, or financial services.

© Copyright 2014 Susan Robison. All rights reserved. The above material is copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site without the publisher’s permission.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Susan Robison, PhD.; 9005 Chevrolet Drive; Ellicott City, MD 21042 Voice: 410-465-5892 or 410-461-1382 E-mail: Website:

3725 Font Hill Drive
Ellicott City, MD 21042
Office: (410) 465-5892
Fax: (410) 465-5967

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