It’s been crazy fast and “busy” at school the last two weeks. This is the time of the school year that seems to get stressful. We are a month into the year, the start of the year enthusiasm is dwindling and everyone is “busy.” That said, I wrote this blog for myself and thought maybe I can help someone else who is feeling this way. I had a district budget due, a board meeting to prepare for, while rebounding from an unsuccessful millage campaign (which I had worked very hard on) and all that was making me feel busy, not productive. It was time to refocus my priorities and my system.
As we have been working on with our admin team, there is a difference in being busy and being productive. Either way school leadership seems stressful, but a leader can be productive and still have time to focus on relationships with people. We live in a world where everyone feels so “busy.” We constantly believe that we don’t have time. The reality is we never have time to finish EVERYTHING.
Stress grows when leaders get caught up in the illusion of always being “busy,” rushed, and not having enough time for people. When this happens, we turn people off and then our stress grows because we feel when others don’t want to be around us. Instead of trying to do everything at once and being so “busy” all of the time, successful people set priorities. They get organized and realize we could work 24 hrs a day and not accomplish everything.
How do we become productive vs busy and still make time for people? Here is the system I use to combat the “busy syndrome” (some content courtesy of Early to Rise).
1. End each day with a brain dump. I write down everything in my mind before I wind down at night and organize my calendar for the next day.
2. Early to Rise. I get up 15 minutes earlier so I can have an extra 15 minutes each morning to get some things done, exercise, and feel more productive. I try (unsuccessfully) to never hit snooze.
3. Craft my Focus. Each morning in the reminders section of my iPhone I make a list from my brain dump notes and calendar. I shoot for no more than 3-5 things each day. This approach gives me plenty of time to take some breaks, walk the campuses, and talk to kids/staff (However, I do schedule this time 2x each week).
4. Start with Appreciation. I begin each morning at the office with my appreciation journal and copy my focus from my iPhone into my journal. Again, to refocus my day. By starting the day listing what I appreciate, it helps me cultivate a grateful attitude and remain positive. I try to plan the most daunting tasks first. As the day wears on, my focus lessens and people demand more of our time in the afternoons.
5. Create a Central Hub. Our central office admin team uses the app Wunderlist to communicate and prioritize big projects. We meet 2x a week and try to discuss where we are and check our list. Another great app to use is Slack.
6. Schedule. I schedule every day to stay organized. As a team, we use Google Calendar and it helps to keep us focused, communicate without face 2 face time, and stay on task. We have so many requests for our time; without it, I’m not sure how many meetings and events I would miss. 🙂
If you’re feeling super busy and overwhelmed, stop what you’re doing. Take the time to get organized. Make some sort of to-do list and create a system. Next, pick the three most important things that must get done. Schedule and get those three items out of the way. Organization and scheduling ease your mind so you can get the most out of your work time!
By taking the time to organize your priorities, you can become more productive and still have time to focus on people. If you schedule tasks with time in between, you can use that time to engage in meaningful conversations and build relationships while still getting things done! Good Luck 🍀