This is a post I wrote in 2013 but did not publish (!). I am publishing this now so I can reflect where I am now.
Time management is perhaps the most undertaught aspect of teaching. I collated our latest staff survey yesterday (in 2013), and it was apparent that some staff felt that they lacked time to complete all the tasks required of them.
Any job worthy of endeavour requires the worker to sovereign over their time. There aren’t many tasks in people-jobs that can simply be processed to completion. Time needs to be allocated, and life needs to roll on.
Where am I now?
I have found myself experimenting with three main systems of time-management:
1) Using calendars (both online and hardcopy).
2) Using a to-do list software.
3) Using post-it notes.
Using Covey’s idea of importance and urgency, I have begun to prune my to-do list. It has existed for far too long with many tasks that I simply do not have time to do. Rereading Covey’s (great) Seven Habits, I can see a point that I underemphasised before:
That any to-do system requires flexibility
It is no good to tell my friends and family that I can only see them in immovable windows of time – that they are dictated by my calendar. My friends and family are more essential to me than work. However, work can be (at many times) more urgent than a social occasion. Therefore, there is a quantum leap of difference between scheduling nourishing activities with friends, or other enjoyably imaginative experiences, around urgent work, and simply responding to all tasks with reactive prioritising. By that I mean that
Of the student teachers that I have spoken to recently, it is apparent that some feel that they work on a near-constant basis. They don’t. They might feel like they work. They might make the preparations for work. But they do not work all the time.
The most important thing for me is that tasks should be at the right time. Scheduling tasks onto a calendar or onto to-do list software is useful long-term. But I think that most tasking needs to be completed there-and-then with post-it notes. I found it too easy to get into the habit of scheduling tasks into a calendar or to-do list, and feeling that they were already done.
Where do I want to be?
I want to use my new work computer (that doesn’t crash three times an evening!) to allow me to schedule tasks once a week. I want to be able to schedule tasks…