Ten Minutes a Day

I've said for a long time that I wanted to learn guitar. I thought I'd have time to do it when my husband and I lived in a National Park (where there was no internet, tv or cell reception). I certainly had the time, but I didn't dedicate the time. Last month, an event renewed my interest in making this goal happen. I voiced my interest to my dad, a musician, and within a few weeks, he turned up at my door with a guitar he'd bought for me. 

That evening, I kept in mind that I'd pick up the guitar and start learning as soon as I finished making dinner . . . as soon as dinner was cleaned up . . . as soon as I'd put my daughter to bed. And you can probably guess, I never got around to playing that evening. The time in the evenings is just too tight. 

So what did I do? I brought the guitar to work with me the next day and just pulled it out for ten minutes during my lunch break. I only practice about ten minutes a day, and only on week days, but it's beginning to pay off (thanks to YouTube tutorials and encouragement from my patient coworkers). 

So how does this relate to getting funded? If you wait until you HAVE the time to work on researching or preparing your application, it's never going to get done. You have a leg up in that you don't need to buy the instrument to get started. You already have what you need! So find that ten minutes in your day that you can use to make an investment in yourself. 

To Volunteer or Not To Volunteer

On Saturday, I was asked whether volunteering was a good idea. I was talking to high school and early college students about how to line up materials to get funded. Staying active and engaged in your area of interest is always a good idea, but just volunteering? Maybe not. 

"Volunteering can look like a bad tattoo," I said, "something random that is slapped onto your resume with no context." If you are volunteering just to fill your cv with content, then it's probably a bad idea. But if the volunteering has something to do with a logical track of interests with which you can show continuity, then yes. 

So take for example a student who has good grades but you see on their list of activities: volunteers at the homeless shelter, the wilderness society and did a 5k for the local teen center. You could possibly weave a narrative about how these interests overlap, but more likely, it just looks like someone who is volunteering just to check off that box. 

Instead, think of something that makes sense contextually with your areas of interest and with the field you want to pursue in the future. It's always good to explain how your actions and passions intertwine, but having a coherent and logical train of extra-curriculars makes this plainly obvious. If you're volunteering for the sake of volunteering, take some time to think where you are headed with your career (or academic) plans and see if you could use your time more wisely. 

MY NEW BOOK is available for pre-order!!!

SO EXCITED!! I discovered last week that my book, Funded!, is available for pre-order on Amazon already!! It's about how to get money to pursue your passion, regardless of age, academic status, or previous history of fellowships. Pre-ordering books is important in the book publishing business, a metric which helps indicate the level of interest in the soon-to-be-published title. If you could do me a favor and pre-order a copy, I would be very grateful. Even if you just put it on your "wish list" in Amazon, it helps my book. Thank you to everyone for your support!!