All posts by Sarah Smyth

Study tips for track B

Do you feel ready to be tested in your classes? Track 2 midterms are currently taking place this week, and it is time to shape up. The Office of Continuous Improvement is working hard to be the most productive we can be and we are ready to help you too with some simple tips!

 

What is the easiest way to improve your study methods? Well, the answer is to cut out all distractions and useless projects. Start with your electronics. When going over your work you should put them out of your sight. This is because by looking at the electronics you are more likely going to shift your focus while studying. According to Texas Undergraduate Studies, “Students who kept their phones on the desk performed the worst on the tests followed by those who kept their phones in a pocket or backpack. The highest performers were the students who left their phones in a separate room”. Take this advice to heart and try to leave it in your dorm or one of the lockers the library provides while studying. See how much you can improve your scores.

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Our next lean tip is to eliminate waste. You can do this by bringing everything you need and nothing you don’t. For example, when studying for a math class, you should bring a calculator, notes, your book, and blank paper. You do not need to bring your phone, a fun book to read or your computer. It will just make you distracted and take time away from the work that needs to be done. Even your computer with your notes can be a bad idea because there are fun games, social media and a whole host of other things that are on there that can distract you. Try printing out our notes ahead of time and leave the computer behind. I know when I am studying I often want to check my email and messages. When I leave my electronics behind, I can put all my focus on my studies.

 

Make sure to have breaks. Studying nonstop for 8 hours is no good for anyone. It exhausts you and makes you much less productive. Try throwing breaks into your studying. According to Elizabeth Hoyt, “Studies show that breaks in your study routine can positively affect your attention abilities. Taking breaks from studying every ninety minutes or so can improve both focus and attention”. So take a break every once in a while. Step outside the library and take a short walk around campus, get a snack, or stretch your muscles. It is good for you to rest every once in a while.

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If you have any more questions or want to know more about maximizing your efforts in your studies, please feel free to drop by the office in 135 West Wadsworth hall. We look forward to seeing you and hope you have a good midterm week!


First Week of Track B.

As we start the first week of track B, the Office of Continuous Improvement would like to welcome back all the students for summer classes. It has been a very busy summer, and we are happy to report that track A ended successfully. Now that track B is starting, we want to remind everyone that we are available to help you start off this term on the right foot. The best way to start off these classes successfully is to set up a smart study plan. There are many strategies and tools out there that will help you with your organization. These tools have the potential to speed up and improve your work.  The Office of Continuous Improvement would like to be a tool in your tool box and assist you in accomplishing your summer goals.

The Office of Continuous Improvement has many tools and methods you can implement in your work. The office has a library of books that can help you maximize your work efforts while minimizing the time wasted. We also have tools like the personal Kanban, and other visual tools which will help you organize what you have to get done. A personal Kanban is an organizational tool that helps you track what you need to do, are doing, and have done. You can refine this system further by color coding the notes. I personally use pink for most important, purple for the least, and blue for the rest. To bring it a step further you can add due dates to your notes to keep it better organised. This is just one of the many tools that the Office of Continuous Improvement uses on a daily basis. 

 

If you want to learn more about personal Kabans or other organization tools for your work please feel free to stop by. We have books available in the lean library that can help you on your Lean journey. If you want some basic organization tips, the book “How To Organize Your Office” will be a great tool. This book brings up Kabans, as well as other visual tools available to use. Another book that can be a great help on how to get started being organized could be “How to De-Junk Your Life: Keys to Taking Control, Getting Organized and Getting It All Done”. These books among many others we have can help you get situated into a productive routine that can save you time. I have personally implemented parts of both of these books in my life to improve my productivity. We are located in room 136W, Wadsworth hall and you can also reach us at improvemnt@mtu.edu. 

 


S.M.A.R.T. Goals

There are 100 days with leaves on the trees at Michigan Tech. At first glance that sounds like a lot because it is about 27% of the year, but when you think of what that entails you can clearly see how little that is. For the most part spring, summer and fall are crammed into these days and they go by so quickly. Then we are back to winter and snow. This is why we need to be smart about how we utilize our time this summer to get the most out of it that we can.

In order to get the most out of these days I am going to use one of the best tools in my belt, lean. The way to do this is through the use of a SMART goal. A SMART goal is a tool to use to ensure your hard work is paying off. It does this through being specific, measurable,attainable, relevant and timely. 

 

http://www.newfoundbalance.com/new-year-new-goals/

My SMART goal for this summer is to get at least an 85% in my finance class by working on my independent studies for at least 6 hours every week starting in July until it finishes in August. I will do this by visiting the professor’s office hours every other week and doing all the practice problems i can make. I will be able to do better in the class because I will be keeping my studies on track and creating a study group with other students in my class. A study group will help me be able to work out problems and bounce ideas off others. This is my SMART goal because it is specific about what I want, has check points that I can measure my progress with, is a reasonable goal that pertains to my degree and has a timeline that I can follow. 

A smart goal can be a useful tool to anyone trying to make the most of their time this summer and can help you spend less time on unimportant activities. When you make your smart goal remember to ask yourself is it as specific as possible? Will you be able to track its progress? Can you reasonably reach this goal? Why do you want to reach this goal? When should it be finished?  If you want to learn more about smart goals you can read about theme here or come visit us in the Office of Continuous Improvement in 135 W Wads, or email us at improvment@mtu.edu.

 


Day 7

Now to all the Leadershape graduates, you know what Day 7 is, but I’m going to explain it for the people who have never attended. Day 7 is the day to take the first step to implement your vision. The first attempt to try to make a change in the world and bring about your dream. Now I know this is a bit different than what is usually talked about on this blog, but bear with me while I show the similarities between Day 7 and Lean.

How do you know what you need to improve? There may be many answers to this but to me it is when someone has an idea to do something better. At Leadershape, participants go through a process of finding out where they have weak points, what they want, and how to bring that about through a series of team building activities. The participants go through a personal Lean process in order to become better people and to hone their vision. They have to identify the waste in both their life and work, then plan to eliminate it. This is seen clearly in one of the activities that was simulating a production line. In this activity people had to work as a team to pass the ball to everyone as many times as possible while not passing it to the people directly next to you. Then, once they have figured out how to do this, people come in to try to disrupt the flow. By going through this, the students learned how to be efficient and use Lean thinking under pressure. Lean is about the implementation of Continuous Improvement and is necessary for a vision.

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Image: http://www.ballsandballoons.com/originofaname/

My day 7 had a lot coming to it. I changed my mind over and over on what I should do and what I could do. My vision had a core value of wanting to help women. I wanted to change the world, but struggled knowing that I couldn’t just jump to the final solution. I eventually decided to work without an answer, and to fix mistakes as they come around. I took my first step with Women’s Leadership Council. While it was a small step, it was one in the right direction. By taking on a leadership role with them, I was able to help young women in the community. One of the activities we planned was aimed to help girl scouts get their science badges. This event took a lot of planning and was guided by the principles of Lean. We split up the events and looked at how to plan the event using swim lanes and dividing the work between the members. It was a tedious process but through the implementation of Lean, my Day 7 went smoothly.

I hope that with the use of Lean and Continuous Improvement, everyone can create their own successful Day 7, changing the world for the better. If you have any questions about Lean or Continuous Improvement please feel free to stop by the Office of Continuous Improvement in 135W Wads, or email us at improvement@mtu.edu.


Welcome, Sarah!

One of the new members joining our PIC team this year is Sarah Smyth. Sarah is a first year business student here at Michigan Tech. She is very excited to learn more about the lean culture and implement lean into her own life while helping to promote it around campus. Now Sarah will tell you a little bit about herself!

 

Hi! My name is Sarah Smyth and I am training to be one of the new Process Improvement Coordinators.

 

I am from Rochester Hills, Michigan and I am a first year Business major at Michigan Tech. I love to make things and create art. My favorite things to create are necklaces and paintings. For the last two years I have ran my own jewelry business where I sold my necklaces in local festivals. I am so excited to be here and join the Office of Continuous Improvement. Previously I have interned at a accounting firm and had the opportunity to work with payroll accounting and quarterly business taxes. I loved that experience and look forward to learning as I go in the Office of Continuous Improvement. While my experience with lean is limited, I am sure I will pick it up soon from my co-workers!

 

Now I will admit, I can be forgetful and scatterbrained but with lean I can keep better track of what I need to be doing. Some students may know me from around campus as the Douglas Houghton Hall Treasurer, and the Women’s Leadership Council treasurer. I love those clubs and I know that for me, lean can help me plan out my work so the clubs can have a better time. My favorite project in these clubs so far has been the ability to plan and do the fundraising for a trip to a an expo in Chicago in the fall of 2019. I loved having the ability to plan everything as well as perform a cost analysis per person to see the most affordable dollar range to bring. Opportunities like becoming a Process Improvement Coordinator and running events has reaffirmed that I was right in my decision to come to Michigan Tech. I know that this is the place where I can grow into the person I want to be.