Time Management & Calendars

New Year, New Calendar
While today is the single busiest shopping day of the year in the U.S. as it signals the beginning of the very commercialized Christmas season, it also is a reminder that the new year is just around the corner. Since “out with the old, in with the new” also applies to the calendars we use, it never hurts to mention again the importance of organization and daily planning, especially for you new or upcoming teachers. The variety of calendars and planning systems indicates how people’s styles of organization vary. We happen to use Daytimers, but the key to any calendar is religious use and custom modification. We use pocket versions that display a week at a time, for easy reference to what’s coming up in the next few days, and sticky-notes to write importance dates or information so that they can be moved as schedules change. We keep a constantly changing phone list, printed out from a word processor, near our phones, and also print out copies at 60% reduction to be trimmed and taped into the inside page of our calendars (no more forgetting the numbers for school security or take-out pizza). And stick a small pad of sticky-notes in the back of the calendar so you always have some available.

Using Flow Chart Symbolism in Your Calendar
If you are a visual person perhaps this idea will help organize the word clutter on your calendar. Use flow chart symbols to indicate various events by drawing that symbol next to an item on your calendar (see the lesson plan below for the symbols and what they mean). This may seem a bit like overkill, but if you’re the type of person who makes detailed notes in planning, and especially if you’re already familiar with the project management process, transferring this metaphor to your calendar may seem like a logical and beneficial step.

Make a Date with Your Calendar
Set a time, say, right after school is out each day, to review your calendar, flip ahead a week or month to see what’s coming up that you totally forgot and update the sticky notes you have stuck everywhere in it. Something to schedule religiously: make your copies a week in advance before the copy machine breaks down.

Don’t Get Held Up
Crises have a way of converging and overwhelming you at the end of the day, including the colleage who drops in to talk as you are headed out the door to go home. You want to stay, but your family is waiting the evening meal on you. What do you do? Try telling them (1) you really want to talk to them but that you need to leave, (2) take the time to find out their concern, (3) set up a time the next day before or during school to meet and talk and (4) take the initiative yourself to be sure to follow through on the meeting. Write yourself a note or put it on your calendar so you don’t forget.

To-Do Lists
How many times have we made a list of “things to do today” then have only a fraction of the jobs done at the end of day? One of the keys of managing projects is to keep track of time. So do some serious prioritizing and estimating of the time needed for a given job, then only list as many jobs as you can comfortably get done within the given time frame. Otherwise, if everything’s not done, it may be because you’ve got 57 hours of jobs to do in one day!

If you really want to tackle time management on a professional and/or personal level, we really love the concepts at Merlin Mann’s 43Folders.

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