I am behind. As the tyranny of the urgent takes hold of my focus time, I have noticed that my distractibility has increased. This is typical for my school year – the story of a school is not one of consistency; rather, it’s one of constant fire fighting. In the first 6 weeks of the school year there are good times and the usual problems are met with easy fixes. However, as the year progresses, the piles of leaves that have been smoldering these past weeks have popped into active fires. When this happens, the role division head aligns most often to the “in case of emergency, break glass” all too often.
In light of this appropriate, albeit challenging tension, my focus can disappear in a heartbeat. While my energy level seems to maintain with strength and confidence, the ability to set my sights on the long-term development of my institution according to mission and vision has waxed and waned with the tyranny of the urgent. So this year, I am learning to do better. I have done some things a bit different in three specific areas that have helped me to maintain focus more so that in years past:
• By journaling – I mentioned it earlier, but the bullet journaling I have adopted has given me new life to focusing. I’ve tried to utilize pre-fab programs for organization in the past without success or consistency. Now, I am able to build an effective program for myself based on what I need.
• By net-zero calendaring – I have forced myself to program out my day so that there is zero (or very little) free space on my calendar. For the times I have budgeted for me, I can be selective with the meetings I place in those spaces. This budgeted time has allowed incredible amounts of target focus time. Now it’s up to me to not get distracted.
• Intentional meetings – COVID protocols arrived alongside a collapse in any structural integrity to my leadership. No meetings, no accountability – it was not good. This year I have been able to re-ignite some of the burners on my meeting plans with school leadership and with faculty. This has given me the opportunity to revisit and redevelop the integrity of my leadership structure.
I am happy with the progress I have experienced in maintaining institutional focus and in developing an action plan that drives the school mission forward every day. It’s not easy – but the various practices have improved my leadership. I am grateful for the change and the chance to be a better support to those I lead.