Finding TimeFebruary 18th, 2015 by Jeff Winget
We are all perpetually busy. There are a billion things on the to do list and a finite amount of time to get them all accomplished. When we run out of time, things slip through the cracks. True pros at time management know how to limit the things that slip through the cracks to a minimum of unimportant, optional tasks. The rest of us drop the ball from time to time and get behind. Getting caught back up can be a serious hassle.
I feel like I’ve been in scramble mode for 2 weeks. Every time I feel like I’m getting caught back up, something else comes along and throws me a curve ball. Some of the curve balls are good–I had a 50-page proofreading project come my way this weekend–and some have just been tedious–re-accreditation stuff at school that’s just a complete pain in the ass. That being said, I’ve let a couple of things fall through the cracks that I normally wouldn’t, which has been hard for me to deal with.
Living Life through Commitments
When I first started teaching, I was a complete organizational disaster. I’d never had to manage so much paper, juggle so many projects, or budget so many events into my schedule. My desk looked like a stick-built farm house that had been hit by a tornado 99% of the time. I lost a lot of work that students had turned in and was forced to give them credit for that work. And, I was just generally behind in all of my duties most of the time.
Thankfully, I worked at a very small school and had very small class sizes, so catching up was not as impossible as it could’ve been, and I had a very patient administrator, who was willing to work with my failings as an organizer because he could see my strengths as an educator.
I eventually figured out how to manage my teaching life a little better. I’m still not a master, and my desk still looks like that destroyed farm house from time to time. But, I’m generally caught up now, and I’m a lot more on top of my commitments to myself, my school, and my students than I was in the beginning.
What’s the key? Commitments.
I’ve found throughout my life that if I make a commitment to someone to do something (even if that someone is myself), I will do it. Commitments are promises, and promises need to be kept, so that’s what I do. What I’ve learned to do is leverage that need to make and keep commitments into making me more organized. For instance, I made a commitment to update this blog regularly by writing at 5:00 a.m. while the house is quiet and my mind is fresh and being fueled by coffee. As long as I’m keeping that commitment, based on the process that I’ve created to keep it, the blog gets updated. When the process gets interrupted (in this case by a web design job and re-accreditation stuff), the blog falters, which is what has happened lately.
However, when there is a cog in the system, one simply has to return to the center, which is the commitment. So, this long, winding rant is basically about keeping commitments to oneself and to others, and making commitments in order to force organization and follow through. A good system helps too, so it might be time to pull out the GTD book again….