3 Time Management Tips We Love

Time Management Tips We Love

Three Timeless Time Management Tips We Swear By

The staff here at ETSU Online have chosen their favorite time management tips and tricks to share with you. They won’t fit on candy hearts, though. Sorry about that.

Tip #1 – Work in Increments

A lot of times we’re faced with tasks that seem overwhelming. Sometimes we’re faced with several of them. Our advice is something along the lines of what Lewis Carroll wrote in “Alice in Wonderland:”

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

It’s not usually possible to finish an entire task, or study all of the material for a test, or write an entire paper in one sitting, but an hour is always an hour. So, schedule a time to work exclusively on your task without interruption, go on until you come to the end, then stop. Repeat as many times as necessary until your task is done.

This is especially helpful because it helps you think of how your tasks can be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks. This is especially difficult because you can’t do it unless YOU PLAN AHEAD, and stick (roughly) to the plan. Otherwise you’ll find yourself out of time.

Tip #2 – Make a List; Check it Occasionally

We aren’t slaves to our lists, and we don’t think you should be either. Still list making has some huge benefits.

First, writing down everything you need and want to do may help you feel less overwhelmed and more in control. Second, seeing your commitments and responsibilities on paper will help you prioritize. Third, there are always tasks that seem to be worse than they really are (for me, that’s almost any phone call I need to make). Seeing it written down makes it seem less scary.

You may find that you’re immediately able to go through your list and take care of all of the tasks that take less than five minutes each. Presto! Within an hour, you’ve made a serious dent in your to-do list.

For other projects, schedule them (using what you’ve learned in Tip #1). And stick to your schedule.

Wherever you keep your list, add to it when new items come in. You can use a small notebook with actual paper, the native note taking app on your phone or tablet, or specialized apps like Evernote or Wunderlist.

Review your list when a) you have no idea what you need to do next, and/or b) at regular intervals, whether it’s daily, every other day, weekly, or only on Tuesdays when the moon is gibbous. It’s entirely up to you and what works best for you.

Super tip: Only one list. If you have multiple pieces of paper or notes on your phone and on paper, you’ll likely feel the opposite of being in control.

Tip #3 – Know Thyself

If you’re a procrastinator, own it. Learn to work with it. It’s great to have a goal not to procrastinate, but if you’re really a procrastinator, you probably haven’t gotten around to it yet. Habits don’t change overnight.

So own it. Learn to work with it. When are you most likely to procrastinate? Is it late afternoon? Mid-morning? What tasks usually trigger your urge to do something (anything!) else? Knowing the answers to these questions may help you schedule tasks when you’re most likely to get them done. If you know what specific tasks you tend to avoid like most kids avoid vegetables, you can schedule it right before a break or lunch (or the after hours get together). If you know that as soon as you complete the task, you’re free for a while, you may be more likely to get it done.

These three tips (usually) keep us out of trouble and from being so far behind that we’re staring at our own behinds. What tips would you add?

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Books We Love

Books We Love

Books We’re Bananas For

In no particular order, here are ETSU Online staff picks of most loved books.

Song of Fire And IceA Song of Ice and Fire (series), George R.R. Martin

The basis for the hit television series “Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire utilizes a medieval time frame, based on the real life War of the Roses, and a gradual introduction into a vast mythology along with an endless supply of well-rounded characters to create a rich series. You know, it’s pretty much what you might come to expect from a guy with two middle initials.

A Song of Ice and Fire could be described as one long book, and each new installment feels as though it is only an equal and opposite reaction to the previous one. The series remains fresh, shifting the point of view of the story between the various characters, and the author is bold enough to allow favorites to die (quite often, really) in order to push the story further. The brilliance of the story is that it teaches you early on not to hold onto any character as your favorite, which builds a sense of suspense as you try to figure out what will become of them all.

~Brandon Pennington, Online Admissions Counselor


Johnathan Livingston SeagullJonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach

Publisher’s Description: This is a story for people who follow their hearts and make their own rules…people who get special pleasure out of doing something well, even if only for themselves…people who know there’s more to this living than meets the eye: they’ll be right there with Jonathan, flying higher and faster than ever they dreamed.

~Darlene Constantine, Executive Aide for Online Programs


Dairy, Chich PalahniukDiary, Chuck Palahnuik

Publisher’s Description: Misty Wilmot has had it. Once a promising young artist, she’s now stuck on an island ruined by tourism, drinking too much and working as a waitress in a hotel. Her husband, a contractor, is in a coma after a suicide attempt, but that doesn’t stop his clients from threatening Misty with lawsuits over a series of vile messages they’ve found on the walls of houses he remodeled.

Suddenly, though, Misty finds her artistic talent returning as she begins a period of compulsive painting. Inspired but confused by this burst of creativity, she soon finds herself a pawn in a larger conspiracy that threatens to cost hundreds of lives. What unfolds is a dark, hilarious story from America’s most inventive nihilist, and Palahniuk’s most impressive work to date.

~Katie Westbrooks, Graphic Designer


Narcissus and GoldmundNarcissus and Goldmund, Herman Hesse

“Hesse was a great writer in precisely the modern sense: complex, subtle, allusive; alive to the importance of play, to the desperate yet frolicsome game of writing….Narcissus and Goldmund is his very best….What makes this short book so limitlessly vast is the body-and-soul-shaking debate that runs through it, which it has the honesty and courage not to resolve: between the flesh and spirit, art and scientific or religious speculation, action and contemplation, between the wayfaring and the sedentary in us.” —The New York Times Book Review

~Heather Laurendeau, Director of Marketing for Online Programs


As A Man ThinkethAs a Man Thinketh, James Allen

It has been said that James Allen is the most quoted man you’ve never heard of. In 1902, Allen published As a Man Thinketh, universally acknowledged as a classic book on self-examination. The precept conveyed in Proverbs 23:7 ( As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he ) inspired the book’s title. It also captures the essence of Allen’s philosophy. Through his eloquent and succinct prose, Allen conveys his thesis that it is up to the individual to form his own character and create his own happiness. –BarnesAndNoble.com 

~Darlene Constantine, Executive Aide for Online Programs


The Reason I JumpThe Reason I Jump, Naoki Higashida

“One of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read. It’s truly moving, eye-opening, incredibly vivid.”

Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

~Katie Westbrooks, Graphic Designer


Ender's GameEnder’s Game, Orson Scott Card

Publishers Description: Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Ender’s Game was the winner of the Nebula Award for best Novel in 1985 and the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1986.

It has also become suggested reading for many military organizations, including the United States Marine Corps.

~Heather Laurendeau, Director of Marketing for Online Programs

We could go on like this all day, but we’ll stop here and start the search for our next favorite book. We’re always up for reading suggestions! What’s your favorite book?

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Quotes We Love

Quotes We Love

Quotes We Dote On

Here’s a list of 20 great quotes from the staff of ETSU Online to you. Enjoy!

1. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
― Steve Jobs

2. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
― Mahatma_Gandhi

3. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

4.“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
― Mark Twain

5. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
― J.K. Rowling

6. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
― Thomas A. Edison

7. “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
― George Eliot

8. “Everything you can imagine is real.”
― Pablo Picasso

9. “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
― Albert Einstein

10. “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”
― Ayn Rand

11. “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
― E.E. Cummings

12. “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
― Roald Dahl

13. “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”
― Oscar Wilde

14. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
― Anne Frank

15. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

16. “Whatever you are, be a good one.”
― Abraham Lincoln

17. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
― Plato

18. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

19. “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
― A.A. Milne

20. “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
― Walt Disney Company

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Apps We Love

Apps We Love

Four Apps We App-so-lutely Adore

In honor of  “Love Month,” the staff here at ETSU Online decided to share the apps that we love most.

Quiz Up

QuizUpMy favorite and most used app right now is QuizUp. QuizUp is a trivia app that allows you to play with friends. You can connect with other users through Facebook, Twitter, your contact list, a username, or have a random opponent assigned to you.  There are hundreds of topics with over 100,000 questions. Playing QuizUp is simple and fun and reaches out to all people of all ages.

My top current categories are Breaking Bad, Logos and Harry Potter, but topics aren’t all pop culture. You can compete in topics of History, Nature, Literature, Science, Geography, or even go directly to educational with math, missing letters, thesaurus and spelling.

When playing QuizUp,  a question pops up on your screen followed by four multiple choice answers. You must choose one of these answers within 10 seconds.

The fun doesn’t end with the quizzes. QuizUp also allows you to see your rankings against your friends or even the rest of the world,  you can use the chat feature to talk to your opponent during your match, or you can post on discussion boards for any topic.

I like to play before needing to focus on a project, it really is a brain teaser and wakes me up to get the job done. Here’s your chance to finally put that random knowledge to good use!

~Katie Westbrooks – Graphic Designer



FoodGawker provides users with pictures of food that may be saved to special folders for quick access when they need the recipe for something that looked delicious earlier while browsing. It’s like Pinterest, but for food!

Why I Love It:

The app allows me to search by name, meal, type of food, or even ethnicity of food, and then instead of drawing assumptions based on a description or name of the dish, I get a picture.

~Brandon Pennington, Online Admissions Counselor



The online retailer of books, movies, music and games along with electronics, toys, apparel, sports, tools, groceries and general home and garden items offers apps that make shopping from your phone or tablet easier.

My favorite features of the Amazon shopping app are:

  • Easy shopping
  • Easy wish list creation
  • Easy returns
  • Easy order tracking

~Darlene Constantine, Executive Aide for Online Programs



It’s being called ‘the Netflix of books’.

I first learned of this app when it showed up as suggested post in my Facebook feed…about 10 times. I finally broke down and clicked on it, and I have to say that I might just let this app change my life.

For a Netflix-like monthly fee, Oyster gives you access to over 100,000 titles in every genre you can imagine. And, yes, even new releases make the list. Given the rate at which I buy books, the monthly fee may actually saves me money. The interface is clean and easy, and the app will store up to 10 titles for you to enjoy offline reading for those times when you find yourself without Wi-Fi.

Why I love this app:

Because, of course.

~Heather Laurendeau, Director of Marketing for Online Programs

We love to love new apps! Share your favorites with us–we just might love them too!

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Make Taxes Less Taxing: IRS VITA Programs offers Tax Preparation Help

‘Tis the season…for taxes.

As W-2s begin coming in and you begin to think about filing your taxes, here’s some information that can help.


The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides free Federal and State tax preparation services to those with an income below $51,000.

Through the program, IRS-certified volunteers provide basic tax services to qualified individuals within their local communities. These volunteers can provide information about special tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly or Disabled. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools and other convenient locations, and you can find one near you here.

To have your taxes prepared at a VITA site you will need:

  • Photo ID
  • Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and/or any dependents
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and/or any dependents
  • Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc from all employers
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available
  • Proof of bank account routing numbers and account numbers for Direct Deposit, such as a blank check
  • Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number (the provider’s Social Security Number or the provider’s business Employer Identification Number) if appropriate
  • To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.

If you are, or plan to be a student during 2014, you will use your tax return information to file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You should file your FAFSA directly with the U.S. Department of Education, and you should NEVER pay to file your FAFSA. Priority status is given to those who submit their FAFSA by Feb. 1.

For more information about student financial aid at ETSU, please visit The Office of Financial Aid online or call 423.439.4300.

Other helpful links for students or potential students at ETSU:

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True Balance

“A true balance between work and life
comes with knowing that your life
activities are integrated, not separated.”

– Michael Thomas Sunnarborg,
21 Keys to Work/Life Balance: Unlock Your Full Potential

Managing your commitments to family and work seems hard at times—it is hard at times—especially when you’re also making a journey toward a college degree.

As much as it seems as if everything is vying for your time and attention, it’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking about your “work life”, “professional life” and “school life” as being separate entities. They’re not. They’re all aspects of your life.

All of the things that you do and the many hats you wear are a part of one life that belongs to you, rather than being separate lives competing to control you.

Does knowing that make accomplishing everything on your To-Do list easier? No, but knowing that you’re in control and that the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” may make your tasks seem less overwhelming.

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What the MOOC? The Rise of Open Courses and Where We’re Headed

Maybe you’ve heard of MOOCs. They’re massive open online courses offered by a number of universities in platforms like Coursera and EdEx. Maybe you haven’t heard of MOOCs…yet. You will.

With the rise in online education came the desire to make education more accessible to everyone. Enter: open online courses. Open courses allow anyone, anywhere, to enroll and take courses without applying to a college or university or having to pay for them.

And that is incredible. I mean really, really fantastic.

There’s so much information readily available for people who want to learn a new skill or learn more about something just because it interests them. And MOOCs provide a virtual, perpetual and inexhaustible resource.

The perceived draw back to MOOCs is that the courses “don’t count.” Because you’re not enrolled with a university, paying for the course, you don’t get a grade. Even where there’s an opportunity for a certificate of completion, course work doesn’t count toward college credit. Well, most of the time.

The idea that MOOCs can be used to shorten the time to graduation and decrease the overall cost of a college education has been around for a while. The problem is that it’s been a little difficult for colleges and universities to do.

But we’ve been working on it. And times are changing.

This spring East Tennessee State University will, once again, offer two, online courses through our Open Buccanneer University Course System (OpenBUCS). The courses are U.S. History since 1877 and Introduction to Music.

These eight-week courses are free and available to anyone, anywhere. What’s interesting here is that there is a path to college credit component after the open course work is complete. The cost for pursuing credit is 1/3 of the cost of regular, in-state tuition.

When students receive credit, it’s applied to their college transcript. It counts towards a degree and is transferable to most colleges and universities.

Technology is changing the way that students and universities approach education, and we can’t wait to see where we’ll go next!

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