Monday, July 14, 2014

Trialling a daily self management strategy

I need focus, daily. The constant flow of information from a range of sources has the tendency to pull my focus away from what I determine important. This term I need a process to manage this. Reflective thinking towards the end of the mid-year break drew on;

1) Stephen Covey's concept of "True North"

My interpretation of the true north is about character and ethics. Making decisions that are true to your character and ethically correct for you. Discovering what your true north is can be difficult. To enable this I had to think of my life as compartmentalised. In relation to work (including roles as a teacher, head of department and state review panel chair) my true north is about helping others be successful. A significant aspect of this is building relationships - so I can understand in what aspects of their role they wish to be successful.

2) David Allen's "Getting Things Done"

One of the key principles is to have a single collection of all the tasks flowing in. In a perfect work world it means a single place to record all the tasks that result from phone calls, emails, conversations and others. In my workspace this is best achieved through a restricted task list. I store this task list in Evernote as a checklist.

3) Zen Habits concept of "Most Important Tasks"

Identifying the tasks which contribute to "True North" and achieve work goals enables this process to be engaging. Important tasks are not necessarily what others see as urgent, and in my case I foresee disagreement with my supervisor regarding this. My challenge will be to show how my "True North" aligns to organisational strategy.

4) David Allen's concept of context

I have refined this particular concept to suit me. Essentially building a list (that is constantly added to) of quick jobs that can be completed in short spaces of time. For example, if I finish work on a most important task and have 5 minutes until class, I refer to this list and complete a couple of quick jobs.

5) Mise en place

A recent blogpost by Ron Friedman discussed the use of this process popular for chefs as a preparation for a day's work. An intellectual preparation for the day. As my workspace moves across my desk, computer desktop, phone and iPad this intellectual preparation means ensuring I have all the resources I need with me when I need them. This also means finishing each day with a clear idea of what the next set of most important tasks are.

To enable this all for success, I have decided that;

1) a maximum of 1 most important task for each spare lesson I have in a day
2) checking emails only at the start of the day and at second break
3) leaving the office by 4:30pm at the latest, not arriving before 8:00am.

The hope - a calmer mind at the end of the day, end of the week and end of the term.

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