New Year, new goals, new plans, and new people. Perfect time to refocus, reframe, and redefine your purpose. I am starting off 2018 with this simple question, “Why is this important?” If I can’t answer this question, I am not allowing these cluttering, desk consuming, and brain swamping ideas to take up residency in my life. Quite frankly, I don’t have time or energy for things that don’t matter, and if they don’t matter I have many other things that do in the queue.
How do I answer the weighty question of a tasks importance? Too often people allow themselves to get stuck in the cycle of having so much to do they don’t know where to begin. This not only cuts production, but it ups the ante when it comes to work related stress and burnout.
So what exactly is important to me? And how to I then choose which items that make the importance cut to tackle first? I have begun asking a few pertinent subquestions to help me answer the overarching question of importance.
- Does this task help students learn or become better problem solvers?
- Will this task empower me to grow, be my best self, or change?
- Does this task fall into the required tasks all educators have to do, or am I putting extra emphasis on the extraneous?
- How will benching this particular task adversely impact others?
- Will completing this task allow me to tackle another task with ease?
If the answer to any of these questions is a negative, then I know I am creating chaos in my work environment, and overburdening myself with extraneous details and tasks. I quickly sweep these extra tasks to the wait pile, maybe pile, or disregard pile.
With new leadership, new faculty, and new students entering an existing school year, the ability to prioritize and regroup is paramount. The importance of things may be altered by the new people introduced in our district/schools, or our goals may shift based on the needs of our students, co-workers, and personal needs. However, allowing ourselves time to focus on what is and what is not important is truly a vital piece of the puzzle.
I challenge educators, admin, and students to wade through their To-Do lists and commit to filtering their tasks based on importance, and not the perceived tasks that overwhelm and unbalance our professional plates.
Going into a New Year, I strongly feel it is better to hit purposeful, planned home runs than to hit random balls into the outfield hoping for a home team victory. So take the time to analyze those to do lists and commit to those tasks that will truly impact our learners and learning environments.