Time management is so important and one that many of us struggle with. It is hard to resist the urgent requests that are put in front of us, whether its a colleague asking for advice or a student that’s appeared at you door having a meltdown, or similar home life related urgencies.
In any job that gives service to others and certainly in teaching, we often have to respond to a situation now - not in 10 minutes when we’ve finished marking a book. However, there are times when it would be beneficial to not respond immediately, even if something appears urgent. This is where a crucial deciding factor comes in… Importance. If something is urgent but not important, it does not need to take priority. For example, a phone call appears urgent because of the sound that alerts you, but it is not necessarily important. Neither is a text pinging through to your phone or an email that pops up on your screen. These all appear urgent, but many of them do not need to be dealt with right that minute and if you do attend to them, it breaks your trail of thought and massively impacts on your productivity. Another example could be colleagues going to the staff room for a coffee. It is urgent, in the sense that it is happening now, but it is not necessarily important to do it.
But how do we decide what is important or not?
This is where we need to understand what our values and our goals are. These may differ at times from the values and goals of the organisation you work for. So, if you highly value building social relationships with people you work with and it makes you feel good to have social breaks at work, then the earlier example of going for a coffee with colleagues, becomes urgent and important to you, but might not be to your boss.
Stephen Covey describes these two traits
Clare Martin is a the founder of the Positive Teacher Network who specialises in helping teachers to find the ultimate Work Life Balance and supports them with many of the difficulties teachers face today.
The Positive Teacher Network provides practical tips and strategies to busy, tired teachers to help them improve their lives allowing them to focus on being great teachers.