Tag Archives: time management

A Gap That Can’t Be Closed By Achievement

“Genius comes when you disconnect from task and reconnect to source.”

Good Life Project: Embrace the Space

“Creating space, those moments of in-between that we increasingly fill with tasks.”

My breath gets taken away during the course of the school day. Not just because I live in a country where the PSI (pollutant standards index) has been in the unhealthy range for a month, but because we move at a pace that is startling. We fill every second, every moment with something. Then I ride home on the train and I watch lines of people on their personal devices, going into shutdown mode on candy crush in an ironic attempt to unplug. We unplug by plugging in. How else could I explain why the last thing I do in the evening is to watch my favorite Netflix or HBO series?

This got me to thinking about one of my quadrants of all time, . I love it not only because I like things that are visual but because it is a reminder of how much time we spend in this digital age in quadrant one, also known as “important/urgent.” (Note to self: write a blog about how texting has become the new email). And our our default to the high energy/high burnout quadrant one is NOT quadrant two (important/not urgent) but actually quadrant FOUR which is not important and not urgent (candy crush). I found this fascinating.

If quadrant TWO is where growth, renewal and creativity live (and what all the conferences we go to talk about), then why can’t we get there? We know the answer to that question but that answer is not sufficient. We have to do better. One of my colleagues told me that he refuses to let his email inbox be his “to do” list. He aggressively fights to live in quadrant two and I applaud him for his courage. Me? I’m the new guy. I am barely keeping my head above water in quadrant one. It will take time before I can regain equilibrium and join him. But I must.

It’s too easy to spend our days reacting to the instantaneous demands that are put in front of our faces when others push buttons (both literally and figuratively). Doing things that seem important and urgent structure our days and make it look as though we’re ‘getting stuff done.’ But the truth is the exact opposite. We get burnout and candy crush. And loss of focus. And all the downsides that come along with neglecting quadrant two.

I guess I could conclude by making a trite comparison to the age-old “less is more” clause which is probably apt. What I’d rather do is challenge educational leaders to stop thinking you’re getting stuff done by living in quadrant one and slipping into quadrant four when you burn out. Regardless of what everyone around you does and says, it’s your responsibility to fight back so that you can spend more time in quadrant two, and do the inspirational work that got you into this crazy business in the first place.

Good luck. You’re going to need it.

The Organization of Learning


This picture has nothing to do with the post, but I took it when I was hiking this summer in Switzerland and my head was really, really clear and uncluttered by my “to do” list. Maybe it is related!

According to Wikipedia, “high performance teams can be defined as a group of people with specific roles and complementary talents and skills, aligned with and committed to a common purpose, who consistently show high levels of collaboration and innovation, that produce superior results.”

With all the talk about disrupting class, innovation, and re-inventing structures for learning, I am fascinated by the conversation brewing around the organization of learning. I’m not talking about what happens inside the classroom. I’m talking about everything that surrounds it. We talk about ‘anytime, anywhere’ learning yet the days in most schools are subdivided into discrete, immovable parts that cause people to dash from one thing (class) to another (meeting).

Schools are really hard places to work because we can never tell if we “got it right” and are always in disagreement about what the final product should look like. Do they have similar conversations at Apple? Maybe. But one thing that I bet they have at Apple that we don’t have in schools is time.

I’ve never been to Apple, but I’m fairly confident of this fact; 90% of their best employees are not giving direct service to clients 70% of the time. Consider that. The average day school teacher provides direct service to his or her clients 70% of the time he or she is at work. (I took a nine hour day and divided it by three hours not scheduled with classes).

That is a very precious 30% left over. Three hours per day, fifteen hours per week to be committed to a common purpose and consistently show high levels of collaboration and innovation in order to produce superior results.

Here’s the kicker: Half of that 15% (some may argue more) must go towards preparation for that direct service to clients. That leaves 15%, or 90 minutes a day to achieve the goals of high performance.

Does the organization of learning know this? Has your learning organization ever assessed its learning architecture around this 15%? What does it do with it?

Consider the student experience, whereby (at the secondary level), a student interfaces with five or six service providers a day, none of whom communicate (usually), leaving the student with an amount of expectation and work that could be considered impossible in most work environments. How many people have five or six bosses? And how much time is there for the average student to meet these demands within the organization of learning?

I don’t know what to do about this dilemma. All I know is that I think about it a lot. And all I know is that the responsibility put on the educator to perform at high levels requires more time to assess practice and the organization of learning, not less.