A year ago today I started in a new role as principal of Bowen Island Community School.
“Time flies” has almost become cliché. I use the phrase too often and while it usually seems true, when I think of all of the things that have happened in the past year I realize that time only flies when the in between of important events and milestones are not considered.
And there is a lot of time in between.
When I considered taking on the role of principal I thought that one of my greatest challenges would be time management. As a teacher and vice-principal, the hours in between the bells are spent with students and many hours outside of that time are spent assessing and planning. After ten years, I felt confident in my ability to prioritize time to ensure students were learning what they needed for their stage in development.
I wondered how as a principal, not in any one classroom for the day, I would spend my time and worried if I would be so busy staying (or getting) “caught up” with pressing tasks that I would not spend enough time on the important but not urgent things.
In Stephen R. Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he notes that effective people prioritize their time well. He notes four types or zones of tasks:
- urgent and important
- not urgent and important
- urgent and not important
- not urgent and not important
It’s easy to stay out of zone 4. The other zones are the challenges. Effective people make time for Zone 2, that which is not urgent but important. As an educator and learner, I see Zone 2 as the area where the biggest gains are made in improving as a professional, my classroom, and my school.
Recently, West Vancouver Schools Superintendent Chris Kennedy challenged educators to participate in the one word challenge, to find one word that best defines their hopes and goals for the coming year.
My one word, as you may have guessed, is time.
Time is not a hope or a goal, but prioritizing time on things that matter, that which is important but not necessarily urgent, is one of the biggest and most important challenges in life. I shared this idea with our departing Grade 7s at their promotional assembly last year and also in a blog post called, “The Challenge of Opportunity.” The post challenges students to make the most of their time in secondary school and beyond by ensuring they are thoughtful of how and where they spend their time and asking this question frequently: Why do you do what you do?
It is my goal and my challenge, in my work and personal life, to continually define what is important and prioritize my time accordingly. I owe that to my family, the students of my school, my colleagues, and myself.
I’ve been using this tool (Weekly Schedule – Simple), based on Covey’s work, to help prioritize time. Feel free to use and modify it.