I am a notorious time waster. Especially when I am faced with something I don’t like, or think I’m not good at. For me, this means anything administrative. There are some people who are made for filing and writing reports, filling out forms and keeping records, organizing and alphabetizing (some of my very good friends come to mind), but I am not one of them. Unfortunately for me, the teaching profession, despite its many shimmering qualities, includes a LOT of administrative tasks, so my planning periods often look a lot like time wasting to the untrained eye.
I have tried over and over to get better about this by simply willing it. When that failed, I tried to schedule extra planning time to offset my evil time-wasting ways. Then when that failed, I got to sleep a lot longer, but still did a horrible job managing my time.
There is a thing my wife introduced me to called OneWord365 where instead of forming long, drawn-out New Year’s resolutions that you’ll forget about in a week maybe if you’re lucky, you choose only one word that exemplifies what you want to be about, or who you want to be in the coming year. I, of course, pretended like it was silly at first, because it’s a task that requires deep introspection, which takes me forever and is hard. But, at school with my students, it’s something I regularly encourage, and at home is something my wife is always patiently helping me become better at, continually lowering the bucket into the well of my heart and waiting as I draw out, and make sense of, the thoughts and feelings inside.
Needless to say (since this post exists) I decided to go for it, and chose the word “time.” I knew I wanted to be more aware and in control of where my time was going and what I was spending it on. I wanted to not waste time on the unimportant things, so I could have more time for the important ones. But, like I said, deep introspection is a slow train for me, and as the week went on, the word I chose started to change as the thoughts and feelings behind it became more clear. I didn’t want to loose sight of the fact that even the horrible boring stuff needed to find at least a little time in my schedule. Maybe I was feeling guilty for thinking aspects of my work life were horrible and boring, but “time” changed to “balance.” And as the train caught speed, I felt like “balance” implied all the demands on my attention were of equal importance, so I ultimately chose the word perspective.
As I work my way through this year, I want all those things listed above, but mostly I want everything to find it’s right place. Perspective means doing the little things so I have more time for the big ones, but not fretting if I have to let some of those little things go undone.
Plus, I decided to have my students choose a one-word goal for themselves for the semester. The only catch, it had to be a personal goal, not academic. We spent the first day back from winter break doing this instead of our typical flavor of goal-setting activities. The students chose a word, wrote a few sentences about why they chose it and spent some time reacclimating to school by decorating it for display on the wall. A low-impact first day back, but important all the same.