It’s the weekend, and you need to be enjoying yourself. Spending time with people you love doing things you love to do. Getting refreshed, refocused, and ready for another week of leading your school.
Are you instead spending some, most, or all of your weekend doing work?
Get out of that routine by better balancing your tasks during the week. Take your weekends back by being more effective during the week. Balance your time to effectively complete the tasks you need to accomplish so there won’t be so many left to do when the weekend arrives.
Easier said than done? Perhaps, but there are some strategic habits and attitudes you can adopt that will help you to get your days more balanced.
- Seize the Morning to Seize the Day. If you want your day as the principal to run well, the beginning is the most critical. If you can make a habit to greet your teachers as they are arriving; then see your students as they get to school as well. (drop-off line, bus lane, parking lot) Be a part of morning announcements: help establish the tone of the day. Then, depending on the size of your school, make a sweep of as many classrooms as you can. If you’re able to get to some of them, that’s great; if your school is small enough where you can get to all of them, that’s even better. Getting around to your students and teachers, just to check in and just to set tone can be the prevention that’s worth a pound of care. The mornings are golden hours and if you can get everyone off to a good start doing what they ought to be doing you’ll be amazed at how you can recapture control of your days.
- One Thing At A Time After you establish the foundation of the day by being visible, it’s time to work on the tasks at hand. Observations? Meetings with teachers? Planning? You have lots to do, but work to get things done before spreading yourself out to the next thing. If you can develop the habit of working on things to their completion, you’ll be giving yourself time that you don’t even know you’ve been giving away. The constant starts and re-starts are a big part of the time loss that happens to you as the leader. When you do a classroom observation, don’t take notes and go back later and complete the writeup on the platform; spend five more minutes at that time to get it completed. (And those who say you can’t do that should at least give it a try!) The people who get tasks completed are the ones that are able to focus long enough on a particular thing to get it accomplished. You can do it; it’s an attitude, and then it becomes a habit.
- Your Emergency Is Not Necessarily My Emergency When principals and assistant principals tell me they spend all day every day putting out fires, I often mention that you might want to spend some more time in the fire prevention business then! Part of this is established in number one, above, by framing the day every day for the students and teachers at your school. Another is by strategically training your faculty and staff in how to resolve many (most) of their issues without the need to bring them to the administration. There are some schools that have established the norm that everything is a crisis and the principal’s job is to solve everyone’s problems. Those schools are consistently distracted from their real work (learning) and the principal and assistant principal are indeed always putting out fires. To get out of that business, you need to clarify what your job as principal really is. If the central office thinks you’re an instructional leader (they do) and your faculty thinks you’re a firefighter, you have a problem. Clarify what you do, help prepare your faculty and staff to solve many of their problems and you’ll all of a sudden have time you didn’t know existed. This really works. You have to get it established in a way that makes it look like you aren’t insensitive to their needs . (Being transparent is critical. Tell them WHY you are wanting to teach them new ways to handle classroom events. Metacognition. It really will work with time and commitment).
There are other things that you can do to help balance your daily work that we will discuss in future posts, but these are three to begin with that are high-impact strategies that will literally get you operating more effectively during the week so you can have your weekend back.
This is an installment of a series of getting balance right as the school leader. Please take a t at the whole series under the category of “Balance” here at Principal Matters!
Examining balance and getting it right means that you look not just what you do at work, but who you are as the whole leader. That examination means that you look at yourself and your performance in several areas, including the following:
- How you relate to others in your school “universe”;
- How you perform and accomplish the tasks necessary in your job;
- How you relate to those important to you in your life away from school;
- How you interact with the world separate from your school and your home;
- How you are developing habits that promote short-term and long-term health and energy;
- How you are growing professionally and personally; and
- How happy, joyful, and fulfilled you are.
It’s important that you learn to balance within each of these areas, as well as balance all seven together.