Music professor set to share research on setting goals and making time for creativity

There’s just too much to do.

It’s a refrain Dr. Thomas Lerew is used to hearing—and it’s one he hopes he can help students and faculty members start to overcome when he presents his research during this year’s Faculty Research Symposium, scheduled for Nov. 12.

Lerew, assistant professor of music, will present “The Mindful 21st Century College Student: Developing a Framework for Effective Creativity in a World of Distraction,” a topic he’s personally passionate about and one he thinks will help students juggling work, classes, relationships and other responsibilities.

“My presentation is really a message to students in a 21st century of complete overwhelm,” he said. “So many of our students struggle with the demands of balancing school with work and with the time of life that they’re in.”

Lerew’s presentation will center on methodologies outlined in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity and is designed to help students, staff and others develop a framework that allows for creativity.

“Creativity doesn’t take tons of time, it just takes regular time,” Lerew said. “If you’re interacting with your creative project for 15 minutes a day, every day, you will make so much more progress than if you sit down two days a month and spend three hours on it.”

Lerew hopes he can help those who come to his presentation learn to set goals and priorities as well as discover how to evaluate the tools and functions that will help them achieve those goals. Whether using paper or digital formats, Lerew says finding the specific tools that work for each individual is an important part of making goals become realities.

“It’s not always in the student’s best interest to try something out for the sake of trying it out,” he said. “You want to know what the purpose of the tool is. We have lots of different types of tools and they all do different things, so we’ll be looking at the functions and evaluating tools to see how we can incorporate them into the day-to-day. I think students can get more out of their phones, and it doesn’t have to be social.”

While productivity has always been important to him, Lerew says that finding balance became more important after the birth of his first child about a year and a half ago.

“I’ve always been a productivity geek,” he said. “But what has really got me thinking about life balance is that I became a father about a year and a half ago. In my post-graduate life, [I’ve been thinking about] how I now have a healthy balance of maintaining my health, being a present father, as well as a very full full-time job at Trevecca and church work that I do on the side. What’s the framework to help me create the balance, to be present in all the different scenarios that I’m in, and what are some of the tools that can help me achieve that, that are both paper and digital?”

Lerew is one of 18 Trevecca faculty members expected to present during University’s 24th annual Faculty Research Symposium, held in Benson Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Nov. 12. With topics ranging from communication factors in online courses to translation and the interaction of science and faith and literary criticism, Trevecca students, faculty, staff and guests will have plenty of presentations from which to choose. 

Media contact: Mandy Crow,, 615-248-1695