March 25, 2019
I haven’t blogged in over a month. I’ve been busy. But everyone says that, right? While each one of us has the same amount of time every day, it’s how we spend that time that can change our lives, make or break a relationship, or even alter our doors of opportunity.
There seems to be as many time management strategies out there as there are people willing to tell you how to spend your time. Your preferred time management model may range anywhere from Stephen Covey’s urgent-versus-important matrix to composing and prioritizing your own To-Do-List. But when managing arguably your most precious commodity, a few simple facts remain:
It’s not about the best model or the most efficient To-Do List. It’s not about being the early bird or the procrastinator. It’s not even about clarifying priorities.
It’s about self-discipline, mindset, and pace.
I believe the following strategies can apply to all consumers of time, but especially to the do-it-all survivors, recovering perfectionists, and abstract OCD-leaning fighters.
Do-It-All Survivors: Self-Discipline
Perhaps it’s not lacking the will to say No to new opportunities. It’s not misunderstanding the amount of time available or how to weigh the importance of each priority. Believe it or not, some people have to wrestle with taking on less.
Maybe this stems from the obligation to be all-things-educator to save the world. Maybe it’s the iconic educator lifestyle of complete sacrifice and martyrdom that’s constantly praised on social media and in real life. Maybe the reason why some educators take on so much is rooted in relentless passion to become better, wanting to diversify portfolio experiences, or even for the love of the profession itself.
Teaching is a passion so sacred, it’s easy to give. And give. And give. Until you mathematically run out of time to give–and to perform well in giving all along the way. When you factor in the #WholeEducator or #WholeTeacher, family, friends, and health peak priority.
For these kindred souls, self-discipline is needed to simply do less. To put less on the plate. To write down less items on the To-Do List. To move more things to Stephen Covey’s Quadrant IV: Not Urgent–Not Important. It sounds so simple, yet, for many, it’s a daily battle.
Recovering Perfectionist: Mindset
Binary thinking–that’s an all-or-none mindset–is gripping. It stifles progress. It handcuffs good and productive people. It destroys confidence. And it can challenge relationships.
When you can’t begin a one-hour project because you only have 30 minutes available, you lose those 30 minutes. When you need 4-6 hour blocks of time to make a meaningful impact in current studies and research, the 2-3 hour time slots go by the wayside. When you have just 15 minutes To-Do 3 things on the List, none of them get done.
In his post 5 Rules to Simplify Your Life, AJ Juliani has really helped me in Rule 3: Use a Checklist Instead of a To-Do List. Instead of saying that you have to get this done, you say that you’re going to work on this for a specific amount of time.
I’m also reminded of another binary-thinking buster, this one by Jay Smooth. Here, he shares on the topic of racism: “The belief that you must be perfect to be good is an obstacle to being as good as you can be.”
OCD-Leaning Fighter: Pace
Abstract Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can limit one from moving on. Stuck in a continual spin cycle, some ideas and details never come into fruition due to unrelenting thought. This means that both starting and stopping processes can be hard. Transitions are intense, because they require hard, definitive breaks, moving from thinking to doing.
With time being so finite, pacing guides can help those arrested in detailed analyses.
The Oxbow Lake Challenge is one of our favorite #ddestem learning experiences. The idea is to have the just-right slope for gravity to pull water down, eventually to carve a straight line through existing meanders, leaving horseshoe, crescent-shaped lakes. If the water flows too fast, it’s like a flash flood, and a flood plain forms in place of a well-defined river. If the water flows too slowly, then meanders persist, and the river’s path will take seemingly forever to reroute. Check it out:
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) November 17, 2016
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) February 16, 2016
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) March 26, 2019
And maybe managing time and productivity are not as much about progressing at a consistent, steady pace over time. Maybe it’s more simple than that. Maybe it’s just about the will to keep moving forward.