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How to Master Productivity and Happiness

Free courses extend beyond technical computer learning's offerings can educate Duke community members on a variety of topics, including how to beat procrastination.'s offerings can educate Duke community members on a variety of topics, including how to beat procrastination.

In the past three months, about 2,260 students, faculty and staff at Duke have accessed free courses through on topics ranging from Excel, IT security and editing software.

But the online learning tool with more than 5,000 courses also offers help with personal finance, work-life balance and even songwriting.

“People don’t often think about the non-technical topics, but there are many classes in the Lynda library that can complement the entirety of who you are as a person,” said Christine Vucinich, training coordinator for Duke’s Office of Information Technology. “It allows you to soak up all the knowledge you can get.”

From tips for Monday motivation to creating an amazing life, check out these ways to expand skills. Be sure to have your Net ID and password ready to login to

Monday Productivity Pointers

This course features more than 100 short videos – many lasting three to five minutes – that offer up tips and tricks on how to save time, cut distractions and efficiently start a workweek. Hosted by business and education specialists Jess Stratton, Garrick Chow and Nick Brazzi, the course provides insight into how technology can speed up your life and lower stress.

Overcoming Procrastination

Led by Brenda Balley-Hughes, a faculty member at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, this 19-minute course explains how to separate procrastination from other behaviors, identify what might make you stop and start throughout the day and how to address procrastination head on with strategies that will help you get more done. The class comes with a handout that helps each participant track their “procrastination profile” and brainstorm breakthrough ideas.

Happiness Tips

Before completing this course in September, Sara Smith had focused on’s computer program classes like Excel. “But everyone is pursuing happiness, so I was curious,” said Smith, a staff assistant at Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

Smith picked up a life-changing tip to live more uncluttered – literally and figuratively – by getting rid of things that may cause stress. She took the advice and “purged” her home of unused clothing and furniture, even getting rid of a chest of drawers no longer needed. Other easy tips involved not over extending your schedule by committing to projects or volunteer opportunities.

“It’s made me feel a whole lot better,” Smith said. “Who knew happiness could be about less rather than more?” 

One-Minute Weekly Songwriting Tips

Where else can you learn songwriting techniques from someone who’s worked with artists like Kesha, Mickey Hart and Keb' Mo'? Songwriter and recording engineer Cliff Goldmacher explains how to write lyrics and music in classes the length of a TV commercial. Learn how to create a killer chorus and interweave rhyming for the biggest impact to listeners.

Personal Finance Tips

Learn from personal finance experts Jane Barratt and Amanda Clayman who offer three and four-minute long videos on how to get a better handle on finances and lay the groundwork for your financial future. Each class focuses on a new tip, from repaying debt to budgeting and even economically efficient ways to take care of pets. They also explain basic economic terms such as economic cycles, what the sharing economy is, and how to manage an asset to cash ratio.

Creating an Amazing Life

After the death of her grandmother and a cousin in 2014, Seneca McLean turned to meditation and mindfulness as a way to cope with the sadness of losing two close loved ones. This fall, she also turned to when she read about a class that focused on helping participants find fulfillment in everyday aspects of life.

As part of the course, McLean created a manifestation board with a collage of things she wanted to achieve and people she appreciated, like her husband and children. “It reminds me of the things I have and what I want to improve on,” said McLean, a senior program coordinator in the School of Medicine’s Office of Faculty Appointments and Human Resources.

McLean looks daily at the board, which hangs in a closet at home, to refocus on what’s important in her life and how she can give back to others, which brings her happiness.

“Being kind to others helps you feel good about yourself,” McLean said. “It’s important to appreciate what you have and who you have around you.”

In addition to these classes, check out some other courses available through