Time is an illusion.

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
Douglas Adams

There is no true multitasking. Your brain can really only do one thing deeply at a time. It’s just that some brains are very good at switching back and forth between tasks so quickly that it looks like (and feels like) multitasking. Check out this brief explanation and a quick test from Psychology Today for more info.

So, if multitasking is a myth, the question becomes;
How do we make effective use of our time when there is such a long list of tasks competing for our attention?

There are all kinds of strategies, tools and gurus out there to help you focus on tasks and get things done. Have a look around and see what works for you. Here are a couple to get you started.

The Big Rocks from 2008 is still a great reminder of putting first things first. Days can easily be filled with email, paperwork and report writing. Educators are in it for students, staff, parents and communities not polices and paperwork. I love the idea of “Getting an C in Compliance and an A in Learning.”

Matt Simpson has a great two part piece on 15 Observations on Productivity, Habit and Getting Things Done here on his blog. Number 5 was news to me, number 6 reaffirmed the direction we are taking and 13 reminds us of the importance of the longview. Below is a simple and clean graphic of the Covey Time Matrix which can also be found there.


It is in quadrant 2 where the transformational work is done. Trouble is, many people judge leaders by how well they handle quadrant 1. It really depends on which tasks and activities you put in each quadrant. I would put those unstructured and divergent conversations with staff in quadrant 2. It may look (and sound) like we are having fun (that’s because we are) but in those conversations, new ideas and innovations are born.

In order to put tasks, activities and other work into a quadrant, you need to figure out what’s important. This is where alignment comes into play and before you can decide whether or not something aligns with your priorities, you need to know what those priorities are. If you can’t tell someone what your priorities are, then you probably don’t have any. We have been doing some thinking about what our priorities are and have begun to create a list of drivers. These drivers take the form of questions to ask ourselves before we embark on a new initiative or direction. If the answers to the drivers are yes, then we proceed. If the answers are no then we don’t. Here is what Anita Simpson and I have so far. Not sure if there are too many, too few, if we missed something important or if they are too limiting. It’s a start! Feedback welcome!

In order to move from compliance to commitment, does it:
– foster a culture of learning?
– promote voice and choice?
– support professional development through inquiry?
– leverage digital tools and resources?
– contribute to a growth mindset?
– nurture a culture of collaboration? #bettertogether
– allow for modeling from the classroom to the boardroom?

I keep coming back to a favourite quote by Joel Westheimer “Since we can’t measure what we care about, we start to care about what we can measure.” In this case it might be… “If we don’t spend time on what we care about, we end caring about the things we spend our time on.”

Those things are the illusion.


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