Week 6 Discussion - Managing Interruptions

Week 6 Instructor Notes Notes from the Field I used to tell my father that I wish I had eight days in my week. I will never forget his response: “What for? You would just fill it up with something!” He knew me too well. What he didn’t know was that I had learned that behavior from someone—I wonder who! I believe I could write a book on time management. Since technology made its debut, we have been told that we will “have more time” to get everything done. I remember a time when it took my mom all day to do the family laundry. We had a big, old wringer washer. If the water became too dirty, Mom would empty it and start with clean water. After she washed everything in sight that appeared to be dirty, she had to hang all of it out to dry— many times having to wait until some of the laundry dried. She could take it down and have room to hand out the rest. Toward evening, it was time to take the clothes down and bring them in the house. It was an all-day affair! Then enter the automatic washer and dryer era—what a time saver that was in comparison to the old way! As all of us know, our worlds have been evolving with “time savers” ever since, but it seems that no one has any more time. I marvel at all of the resources that are available to teachers through the Internet and a mouse click! That would have been so helpful had we had that option when I taught sixth grade. I have to be careful not to generalize, but I think I have seen more articles written on the subject in the last decade and fewer people actually managing their time well—especially in our circles! My parents taught me “time management” in no uncertain terms. They saw to it that I either managed my time or they would do it for me! It still rings in my ears: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can today.” My dad even added, “Don’t let it take you an hour to do what you can do in fifteen minutes.” I am sure you get the picture! Even my piano teacher got in on the act with “Do the worst-us first-us.” Those were her exact words. She spoke German very fluently, and when I wanted to do the easy parts of my lesson first and catch the arpeggios later, she would always tell me to do what I disliked first and then I could play the music that I enjoyed! This nine-year-old piano student learned her lesson well, and it was very good training along with learning how to read music. Both my parents and my piano teacher taught me a life-skill that I still use today. Let’s look at what might be the culprit in stealing time. Even though we have the Internet where we can readily go for information, have you caught yourself starting to research a particular topic only to find something more interesting to read, and when you finally look up, your lack of focus has eaten up some time you could have been using more wisely? I’ll watch one more television show; I’ll play one more video game; then I will get to the business at hand. Have you had those experiences? Several years ago, I heard an educator speak and one of his tenets was time management. He spoke about the problem many of us have in “peeling bananas for other people’s monkeys.” Let me explain. As we walk down the hall to our offices, we come upon someone who tells us about something he or she has to do, and the complaint usually is, “I just don’t have the time to do that.” We do what is natural. We feel sorry for the person and what do we do? We want to help, so we jump right in and take that monkey off the person’s back, put it on ours, and start “to peel a banana” for the money. Further down the hall, we meet another colleague. That one has a bigger job to do—a bigger “monkey.” Again, the same sob story from this colleague and once again, we feel sorry for the teacher and

volunteer to take that “monkey.” I am sure you get the picture. By the time we have finally arrived at the office, we have picked up several monkeys that actually belong to others, but now belong to us. It goes without saying that the time we spend peeling bananas for other the monkeys of others will only shorten the time we have to meet our own responsibilities. If we continue to pick up these monkeys, it will eventually affect our leadership and the job we are doing, and of course, will steal the time we need to accomplish our own goals. Making lists and prioritizing are keys to making the minutes count. I invite you to read the short article below that has some really good ideas.

“Four Great Reasons Why Good Leaders Are Not Firefighters” http://blog.kevineikenberry.com/leadership-supervisory-skills/four-reasons-why- great-leaders-arent-firefighters/

Content Notes Think for a minute about what controls your time? We all have 168 hours in a week. Are the activities in which you are involved “necessary” or “nice?” Take some time to look at how you are using your time, even as an intern. That could be a predictor of your time management once you are hired as a building leader. Do we sometimes have problems distinguishing between what is nice to do and what we need to do? Once you become a school principal, there will be days when you will ask yourself how in the world you got involved in this! Other days run smoothly and you work quickly down your “to do” list. Is there a way to cut down on duplication? If one department is gathering data on a particular topic, do all departments have to gather the same data? Only you can judge what you have to do. It might be worthwhile to ask yourself about your “to do” list. If you are not getting through your list daily, perhaps you might need to look more closely at your list and how your priorities. Ask yourself what is the best use of your time. Are you doing things that you might be able to hand off to someone else and free you up to do what you really need to do? Lastly, look at timing. I have found that those people, who have problems with time management, often do not allow the time needed to complete a project. Do you know people who tell you that they will be finished in twenty minutes, and you automatically add sixty minutes to that because you well know that person cannot accurately predict the amount of time needed to complete a project? Procrastination is the biggest challenge to good time management. We always want to put “it” off until tomorrow, rather than to jump in and get it out of the way today. (You will read more about that in my field notes). I would invite you to start looking at how you manage your time now. Are there ways you can improve? Do you need to look at how you “time yourself” to complete projects? Are you a procrastinator? As a leader, you need to be “out in front” of the staff. If you run in at the last minute to conduct a staff meeting or keep people waiting for you at a parent conference, you are telling others how you manage your time. It can also send a message as to the importance you are placing on the event. A favorite quote I heard many years ago was, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Lest I sound insensitive, let me hasten to say that your reputation as a leader and its effect on the climate in your school are at stake here.

You can find some very interesting reading at the link below. There is a self-assessment instrument that helps you assess your own personal time management as well as scenarios that are important to good time management. I would invite you to take a look at this link, where I have gotten some ideas as well.

Hayes, Marion. “A Crisp Fifty-Minute Series Book: Personal Time Management” (3rd Edition) http://www.ciwcertified.com/proddesc/Courseware_Sample/1418889113. PDF