Fragmented Thoughts

Notes, quotes and other things on the mind of Emma Cragg

At hockey training last night we were working on match situations where one team has an overload. After a while, we paused to talk about how it was going. It felt like chaos and mostly we were running around like headless chickens.

Our coach gave us this advice for what to do when you’re under pressure:

  • slow down
  • be decisive in your actions
  • if it doesn’t work, change direction
  • protect the ball

As soon as she'd made the first point I knew what she was saying would be applicable off the hockey pitch as well as on it. In a non-sporting context, for the final point, I'd substitute your wellbeing for the ball. Other than that, I'd say they're all valid in situations when we're feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and under pressure.

What do you think? Where in your life could you apply these steps to make a difference?

This is day six of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at

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My previous post contains a list of things my Dad taught me. Not wanting to leave my Mum out, here are some of the things she taught me. Again it’s off the top of my head and in no particular order:

  • how to drive
  • the art of giving a good hug
  • to appreciate the simple things in life
  • how to make custard
  • the right cup to drink tea from
  • to enjoy singing
  • how to iron a shirt
  • to have the courage to try new things
  • how to make Christmas dinner
  • to keep going

This is day five of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at

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There was a tweet going round over the weekend that asked you to name one thing your Dad taught you. I didn't respond because I couldn't pick just one. So instead, here's 10 of the things that came to mind (in no particular order):

  • that the crusty bits around the edges are the tastiest
  • how to tie my shoelaces
  • to be inquisitive
  • the rules of rugby and cricket
  • how to play cards
  • fierce loyalty
  • how to make stock, gravy and soup
  • generosity
  • how to grow tomatoes
  • to know when I need to take a break

This is day four of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at

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I am in the process of completing a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in Business and Personal Coaching. I completed the practical element of this course back in 2018 and now all that's left is to write the essays. There are three in total:

  • Coaching in Practice – a reflective essay about my development as a coach
  • Coaching to Enable Change – encompassing what helps us change, what gets in the way and how coaching can facilitate the process
  • Coaching in an Organisational Setting – my focus for this one is the importance of reflective practice in the workplace

When it comes to this kind of academic work, and talking to my peers about their experience of it, I am incredibly grateful for the research skills I learned in my previous career as a librarian. There are things that I know, that I probably take for granted, that really help to ease the process. I've shared all of them before when helping people with their research, but now seems a good time to bring them together in one place.

Accessing electronic resources

It's no secret that the myriad of systems used to access electronic resources through the library make for a less than intuitive experience. Add to that, the fact that the kind of course I'm doing doesn't allow full access to library systems; more often than not I come up against an “access forbidden” alert. It's frustrating to say the least, but here are some ways around it.

Firstly, I found out exactly which packages I have access to and now, instead of searching the whole catalogue, I search specifically within these databases. This works best in the early stages of research when searching by topic rather than for a specific article.

If you're a fellow student on the PGCert for Business and Personal Coaching through the University of Chester, those databases are: ProQuest, Wiley Online Library, Dawsonera and E-book Central

A similar approach at this stage is to use the Directory of Open Access Journals. This indexes peer-reviewed journals that have no barriers to access.

When it comes to looking for specific articles, I use the Unpaywall extension. This highlights whether an open access version is available if you've found an article you want to read in a paywalled journal.

Sometimes you have to accept that it's not possible to get your hands on the exact article you're looking for. Using these approaches there are usually plenty of alternatives that are good enough.

Locating print materials*

I'm affiliated to a university in the north west of England, but as I live on the other side of the country accessing their print materials isn't an option. Thankfully, there are other ways to get hold of books you can't get electronically.

Use WorldCat to find local libraries that hold the item you're looking for. Many university libraries allow walk-in access to visitors, especially those affiliated with other academic intstitutions.

I also search directly on the catalogues of university libraries near me. You may not be able to borrow, but you should be able to use the library for reference. And if, like me, you live near the place that you did your undergraduate degree then you may be able to borrow books as an alumni.


There's something about my nature that means I get a strange sense of joy out of referencing – I know this makes me an anomaly. I just like how methodical it is.

I know that for a lot of people both the purpose and practice just don't make sense. And sadly, most of the guides available make the whole thing seem more complex than it is and therefore even more confusing for beginners. Thankfully, lots of academic libraries provide quick guides that cover most of what's needed to get started. I'm currently using one from York St John University and I don't find I need more than that.

If you really want to up your referencing game, and have some fun in the process, check out RefQuest from Learning Futures and the Library at Western Sydney University.

*The caveat to this is that obviously during the pandemic physical access to libraries is probably not feasible anyway, but I think it's worth noting these options for some future date when we can just walk in somewhere and pick a book up off a shelf.

This is day three of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at

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In preparation for starting this writing challenge I decided to make some tweaks to the setup of this blog. There's a new theme and an archive so you can browse or search older posts.

I've also set up federation. That may sound fancy but makes it as easy as checking a box in the settings. What this means is that people can now follow this blog in the fediverse.

My main exploration of the fediverse is through Mastodon. I have the loosest grasp on how it all works so won't try to explain it. If you want to learn more watch this video explainer from a user's perspective. I found the part that explains local and federated instances (or servers) using the analogy of villages and towns particularly helpful.

If that's piqued your interest and you want to give Mastodon a try, here are a couple of handy guides:

You can find me at (although I have a request to join awaiting approval, so watch this space).

This is day two of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at

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My writing typically comes in fits and starts. Just take a look at the yawning gaps between posts on this blog.

19 November 2019. 4 February 2020. 21 August 2020.

That's not to say I'm not writing elsewhere. But it's clear this blog needs a nudge. So I'm committing myself publicly to #100DaysToOffload.

In case you don't click that link, here's the gist:

  • it is a challenge to publish 100 posts on your personal blog in one year
  • there are no limits. Just. Write.
  • it is the brainchild of Kev Quirk
  • there are many participants sharing their posts on social media using the hashtag #100DaysToOffload

... Will you join us?

☛ Find Emma elsewhere on the web: Weekly newsletter | Twitter | Mastodon

Link: Author: Toni Morrison Time to read: 3 mins.

I found this article a good provocation to think about my relationship with the work I do, and have done over the course of my career so far.

It can be easy to base so much of our identity around our job, but what if we took the opposite approach?

  1. Whatever the work is, do it well—not for the boss but for yourself.
  2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you.
  3. Your real life is with us, your family.
  4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.

#favourite #identity #worklife #careers #ToniMorrison

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Link: Author: Tara Haelle Time to read: 15 mins.

Another article that prompts reflection on how we've coped during the pandemic. It introduced me to a handful of concepts, including surge capacity and ambiguous loss.

Surge capacity is a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters. But natural disasters occur over a short period, even if recovery is long. Pandemics are different — the disaster itself stretches out indefinitely.

“The pandemic has demonstrated both what we can do with surge capacity and the limits of surge capacity,” says Masten. When it’s depleted, it has to be renewed. But what happens when you struggle to renew it because the emergency phase has now become chronic?

It concludes with some good points to help as we continue to navigate an uncertain future.

#favourite #pandemic #psychology

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A quick post to test federation settings

Tags: #mastodon #fediverse

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