There are times when we feel like work is creeping into our personal lives and often we are only just managing to tread water. One of the most crucial questions I was ever asked was – What is your ‘Why’? Although I was confused at first, it was around thirty minutes into the exercise I began to understand the power behind it. It was one of those light bulb moments for me because I realised just how lost I had become in ‘the doing’. Once I began mapping out and reminding myself what was important in my life, the usual techniques that come with Time Management all seem to give momentum to your life.
What is your ‘WHY?’
So, what is your ‘Why’? Are you looking for success? Is it the holidays that drive you? Is it the money or spending time with your family that motivates you? It is important to dig deep into your ‘Why?’ because it is when times get tough that your ‘Why?’ gives you the strength you need to prevail.
The corner stone to time management. Do you have a separate personal and professional planner? Do you take the time to schedule your week with your friends and family as well as the work appointments and deadlines?
Here are some helpful reminders:-
1. Keep the number of planners as small as possible – two/three maximum. My school calendar is linked to my phone, however, I am able to ‘hide’ the school calendar when needed.
2. Keep at least one planner with you at all times.
3. Remember to include times where you check your emails, planning, marking or more general stuff like filing.
4. To-do lists are great as they can help when you need to prioritize things. It’s much easier to do this when you see things written down. This leads neatly into the next point…
5. Estimation and sequence. It’s important that you can mentally estimate, prioritize and sequence tasks so they get done at a sensible time, and that you develop your skills of estimation.
Why are you still here? Leave!
It has been a busy day and now you are ready to leave. For busy teachers, the route from their classroom to the car-park can be an obstacle course lined with distractions, disruptions and delays. All the good intentions that you made – cooking the tea, going to the gym, a bit of reading – are often undone right at the end of the day. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, the site team are starting to lock up and you’re still there…
Here are some things to think about:-
- Plan your route of escape. This doesn’t mean avoid the staffroom or hide from your students, it just means choose the most practical and direct route between your place of work and your means of transport. Don’t feel obliged to say ‘goodnight’ to everyone – at least one person will want your opinion on something.
- Establish a routine. This means that you have a standard time of departure, and a standard set of activities leading up to that departure time. Don’t do anything new, demanding or different at the last minute – just standard stuff like marking, lesson preparation, preparing to-do lists – activities whose durations you can predict.
- Set time-shift deadlines. Time-shift deadlines are set before any last-minute rush. If you are leaving school at 17:30, stop what you are doing at 17:00 sharp, shut down your e-mail and review what needs to be done before you leave. This should ensure ‘no surprises’.
- Get tough. Tell people in advance that you will be leaving at a particular time each day. It sometimes helps if you make it an unusual time: 16:50 instead of 5 o’clock. Make sure expectations are clear by using formal language: you have ‘appointments’ and ‘commitments’ which require you to leave on time. The fact that the appointment is with your family and the commitment is to cook tea is no-one’s business but yours.
Chris Jones January 2017