Time Management Activities

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Time management activities are particularly important for teachers. As you will be aware, the workload placed on teachers, particularly at the beginning of their careers is enormous. Thus, time management for teachers must take into account this extra stress in the early stages. I have decided to devote this section to three books which have actually made a lasting and positive difference to me. They include a number of different time management activities that I still use today.

Stephen Covey

If you have read my section on Special Education and particularly on developing positive working relationships, you will have seen that Covey's amazing book 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People' received a mention.

Covey has written an extremely useful section on time management in the workplace, as one of his Seven Habits. He calls it 'putting first things first'. The idea is simply to divide tasks up into several categories, the most relevant of which are the 'urgent but not important' and the 'important but not urgent' tasks.

The key distinction that Covey makes is to encourage you to focus on those 'important but not urgent' tasks, which always seem to get swallowed up by the 'urgent but not important' ones: the ones which have us lurching from deadline to deadline and leave us feeling simply 'dead' as a result.

They key to taking control of your time and your life, is for you to decide what is important for you and to make time for it. In the long run, being able to do this will make your work life so much more pleasurable and bearable.

For example, you have a work deadline but you also want to go to the gym. Which is urgent and which is important? Now most people try to convince you that what is urgent is also important. But that is their agenda. It is often the case that when you find time to do the things that you feel will be of benefit to you in the long term, you have increased energy and motivation to do what has to be done, and in less time. So in the above example, going to the gym may mean that you feel like getting up early the following day to finish your work and meet the deadline.

Following this principle means that you focus on activities such as: rest and relaxation, relationship building, creative planning, goal-setting and advance planning to avert crises, etc. Ignoring this principle leads you towards crisis-management and burnout. I know which I would choose!

Brian Tracy

With his 1980's power braces and his bold pledge to 'save you two hours a day' Brian Tracy looks rather hard-sell on the outside. However, this is one of the best books on both time management and goal setting that I have ever read.

Tracy's take on time management activities is to take you through a rigorous goal setting process that is extremely powerful and help you to devise sequences of daily actions, in pursuit of your goals. The process is very uplifting because it allows you to get clear on where you are going in life.

Like Covey, Tracy makes you focus on what you perceive to be important, rather than allowing yourself to be swept along on a sea of other people's priorities and 'urgent' tasks.

David Allen

David Allen is the Godfather of the 'lifehack', defined by Wikipedia as a 'productivity trick' initially employed by computer programmers, to 'cut through information overload and organize their data'.

The concept was developed by Allen, who is a 'personal and organizational productivity trainer'. Now that may not make you want to invite him to your next party but it may just convince you to purchase a filing cabinet. Yes, I have to admit it, I did invest in one after reading this book, and in an electronic labeling machine. And whilst they now seem part of the furniture, I was unreasonably proud of them for quite a while.

As time management activities go, this was an important one for a clutterbug such as myself. I now can at least find things of importance in my own home (and at work, as I commandeered a filing there as well, as per Mr. Allen's instructions).

OK. If I can't convince you, I'll hand you over to the Guardian journalist who convinced me.

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