I am a terrible reluctant aspiring organiser. Having your desk butt up to mine in the staffroom would be a challenge. I’m lucky that the people who have had to sit next to me over the years have always been incredibly patient (and willing to shove my avalanche of papers back onto my side). Because of this, I’m always looking for better ways to manage my time and resources. Not being in the classroom doesn’t mean I don’t still have things to juggle. If you have children, you know what I mean.

Late 2019 I read The Five Choices of Extraordinary Productivity from Franklin Covey, and it made a real difference to how I approached the things I needed to get done and the ways in which I tackled them. With the onset of Covid, however, things began to slip for me. Probably it was a time when I should have been prioritising more than ever but, to be honest, I was feeling overwhelmed. I’m sure many of you can relate to that.

But here we are in 2021, and hey who knows what this year will bring but I’m determined that I will get back into some of the good habits that I let go of over 2020. I was in survival mode then, I don’t have to be now.

The five choices explained in the book (and on their website) are:

  1. Act on the important, don’t react to the urgent
  2. Go for the extraordinary, don’t settle for the ordinary
  3. Schedule the big rocks, don’t sort the gravel
  4. Rule your technology, don’t let it rule you
  5. Fuel your fire, don’t burn out

The first one in particular speaks to me because I’m a bit of an ‘oh, shiny!’ person. Even when I’m working. Especially when I’m working. But all of them are relevant to me either in all aspects of my life, or some. As it worked so well for me when I first implemented it, I’m kinda excited to refresh my understanding of their principals and get some more focus in my life.

I once worked with a woman who was in her first year of teaching. She’d come to teaching later (in her early 30s) and was balancing her first year out with all the other things in her life. She had a jar on her desk filled with rocks and pebbles. The rocks were the important things in life – her partner, her passions – and the pebbles were the unimportant things that had to fit around the important stuff. It was a great visual reminder and a concept that is echoed not just in The Five Choices, but in other personal organisation books I’ve read.

So, how do you manage your time? Did you lose your mojo in 2020, and are you turning over a new leaf in 2021? I’d love to hear from you in comments.

Wendy Allott

I'm an educator, mum and wife living in beautiful Victoria, Australia. I make learning resources for passionate, but time-poor, teachers in need of a better work-life balance. I'm a voracious reader, love a good curry, and believe life is always better with chocolate.

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