I’m starting a blog series called the Time Management for Leaders Series. My hope is to offer support to new leaders, leaders in new positions, and leaders who seek to grow their organizational skills in order to better support the important work of teaching and learning. Many of the topics I hope to cover have come out of authentic coaching conversations I’ve had with new leaders. If there is a topic of interest to you, please let me know in the comments (or on Twitter!).
Time is something that we never have enough of, no matter our role. New leaders often struggle to maintain an effective and efficient calendar. The more organized your calendar, the more time you will have to do the important work you need to do as a leader.
If your calendar needs some 911 support, look no further than these tips.
- Use your calendar to tell the story of your leadership. Instead of large blank holes on your calendar, look ahead at the upcoming month and make a plan.
- Schedule classroom visits now so they take priority.
- Write due dates for all important tasks on your calendar (in the FYI section, see more below).
- Begin with the mandatory work you must complete (formal observations, safety plans, team meetings, supervision, etc.) and schedule those before optional events.
- I first wrote about this tip in a Things I’m Loving Friday issue
- Make appointments with yourself to complete time-sensitive tasks. If I know I have to submit my site plan (or safety plan or fill-in-the-blank task) by Friday, I schedule time on Monday to work on the plan. I also schedule time on Tuesday or Wednesday to review my work or make revisions based on feedback, in preparation for the final deadline.
- Work smarter, not harder! If you know that your team needs and appreciates a reminder email before each team meeting, plan the time to write those emails. The emails can be pre-written and saved in your Drafts, to be sent on the appropriate date. Be sure to add a reminder in your calendar on the appropriate date so that you send them (or use the delayed delivery option in Outlook or other email systems).
- Don’t be afraid of the recurring feature on your calendar. If you have a weekly, monthly or annual meeting or task, schedule it to recur at the appropriate time. If you do this once for each reoccurring event, you will save time in the long run. If you keep missing the PLC meeting for the team(s) you support, schedule those as well.
- I also do this with staff birthdays and other culture and relationship-building events that are equally important for leaders.
- Use the color-coding features to meet your needs. My calendar includes items that are blue (for mandatory meetings and events), green (for informational events that I will attend if I’m able, or just to be aware that they are going on, but that I may not attend), pink and private (for personal events after work hours or on days off; this could be things like exercise as well, which, if it’s not scheduled, often doesn’t happen!), and yellow (for staff schedules – my secretary enters the vacation/leave days of my staff on my calendar as a yellow FYI for me to be aware of).
- Use the “All day event” feature as an FYI. On most calendars, when an event is all day, it shows up at the very top of the day. I put FYI events and reminders in that section of my calendar, so they don’t show up like appointments midday. These can include: deadlines, birthdays, reminders, notifications of other things happening around campus/ department/ district, etc.
- Give others access to view your calendar. My team and I share our calendars so that we can easily schedule team meetings without 12 unnecessary emails and to see where a team member is if he or she is out of the office when we are looking for him or her.
- If you have support staff, give them access to view and edit your calendar. If you are out of the office, the staff who view your calendar can say to a visitor, “I’m sorry, she is in classrooms observing teaching and learning right now and is unable to meet with you. I’d be happy to schedule a meeting for you during _____ or ______ time”.
- An important note for new leaders working with support staff for the first time: Take the time to sit down with your new support staff and go over how you want to use your calendar and what his or her role will be in support of your calendar. Be clear about how items are added to the calendar, what the color codes mean, and when and how changes can be made.
What else would you add to this list of Calendar 911 support?
I learned a lot of my calendar skills from bosses, who were hard-working and successful leaders. I have also been trained in The Breakthrough Coach and have recently discovered The Together Leader, both of which are more formal programs that teach these time-management skills.
[Time Management for Leaders Series]