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I am notorious for taking on too much. I say yes too easily. My schedule becomes full without me even realizing it is happening. Part of the problem is that I view everything I am excited about as a priority, so I make time for new commitments. I am a big picture thinker, and sometimes I forget to think about the details involved when I agree to be part of exciting new initiatives. The other part of the problem is I am willing sacrifice my personal time and passions to accommodate my professional responsibilities.
A large part of being a successful educator is learning how to effectively manage your time. It means knowing how to utilize time in school and time outside of school. It is a delicate balancing act, one which I usually find myself teetering over one edge or the other. This year, especially, has been one of great personal sacrifice. As things were added to my plate, the items pushed to the edges were the things I held most sacred, my relationships and my passions.
Again, dangerous territory.
I recognize that when you dedicate all of your time to your professional life, you lose perspective. For me, I become disenchanted and lose patience. This is the breeding ground for burnout. This is where people begin to give up. Or, worse, just become a negative presence.
So, how do we manage it all?
I recently (...yesterday) asked this exact question to my assistant principal. She is, hands-down, the most organized and productive person I have ever met. I admire her ability to categorize and conquer all tasks, and she does everything with impressive completion. I have never once seen her do anything remotely resembling the wasting of time, energy, or resources, and her outcomes are a testament to this. She is my time-management role model.
Her advice? Ditch the To Do list. Assign dates and times to every task that is a priority. Put them immediately on the calendar and then complete them when their time arises. Until then, don't stress about any one task. I am assuming this is not isolated to professional priorities, but personal as well. The focus should be on completing tasks and productivity with certain time frames. If there is no more time on the calendar, you either need to say no, or replace something that already exists.
Pretty smart, huh?
Going forward, I am also reminded to "Be Gentle With Myself." I will strive to achieve some semblance of balance is all areas of my life. When I manage my time well, I can then manage myself better. I will not forget that my students suffer when I am not at my best, and that is not acceptable. I will prioritize for my healthiness and our happiness.