Wednesday / April 24

I Don’t Have Time Because I’ve Too Much to Do!

Letty Munoz, principal at Clark Andrews School, is faced with difficult instructional issues that have serious implications as related to the students she serves as well as the entire school community. There is much work to do and little time in which to do it! As the school’s instructional leader, Principal Munoz is overwhelmed with effectively and efficiently managing time – a far too common issue with many principals. In fact, Letty recently confided to a colleague: “I don’t have time because I’ve too much to do!” What’s this principal to do?

Pause and Consider

  1. What simple approaches might Principal Letty Munoz incorporate to alleviate her time-management problem?
  2. How might Principal Munoz better collaborate with and engage families and community to the best benefit of the students at Clark Andrews School?

After reflecting upon these two questions, consider the simple time-management techniques listed in my last post, as well as a few more:

  • Clear your desk. School leaders waste six-weeks per year seeking lost documents. Desk clutter (physical and digital) accounts for 80% of office time wasted. At the conclusion of every day, prior to departure, take care of your desk and/or digital desktop – inspect it, clear it, organize it, and appreciate it. It will look great and make you look great!
  • Develop a morning ritual. Come into the office prior to the arrival of faculty and students and “work” the In – Pending – Out Get organized before the events of the day create disorganization and exhaust valuable time!
  • Go digital. Get rid of the stacks of paper that clutter the office desk, round table, file cabinets, and floor. Let technology be a “time-saving” servant. Don’t be a servant to paper and hard-copy files! Use digital apps and devices to improve teaching, leading, and learning.
  • Use your calendar wisely. Strategically make appointments, complete all tasks that must be done each day, and insert important items that you need to know about or be aware of each day.
  • Plan weekly. Planning daily equates to too much to do! Principals who plan daily end up listing three-weeks-worth of stuff to do each day. Impossible! Carefully consider and list in a planning calendar those things that need to be accomplish this week. Then, began to develop a daily calendar.
  • Meet with staff, but plan meetings thoughtfully and carefully. Meetings, meetings, meetings! Will they never cease? “Death by meeting” is actually a book title by Patrick Lencioni (2007). This choice of title frequently describes the mental anguish of meeting attendees. Principals spend at least half of their work week in meetings. Fully 90% of principals squander their time, and the time of others, in meetings. Meetings must be interactive, not passive, structured with an agenda that is followed closely, and meetings must be strategic, tactical, consensus-building, and most important, brief! Advice for the school principal: If you call a meeting be certain that the meeting is essential, non-trivial, and prompt from start to finish. Know instruction because if you don’t, you are wasting personal time and faculty’s time, and they know it and they don’t appreciate it!
  • Delegate and beat deadlines. Why do it all, especially when in-house talent exists. Talented individuals can complete certain tasks, and do so better than many principals. Hand over the work and beat dreaded deadlines. When principals do, they look good and so does everyone else!

Can you identify other time-management strategies which could be implemented by Principal Letty Munoz? What would these strategies be and how would they help this principal and the Clark Andrews learning community?

Please join in the conversation below!

Written by

Richard D. Sorenson, Professor Emeritus, is the former department chairperson of the Educational Leadership and Foundations Department at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). He also served as the director of the Principal Preparation Program. He earned his doctorate from Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi in educational leadership. Dr. Sorenson served public schools for 25 years as a social studies teacher, principal, and associate superintendent for human resources.

Dr. Sorenson continues to work with graduate students at UTEP teaching school-based budgeting and school personnel. He was named The University of Texas at El Paso College of Education Professor of the Year (2005), and he remains an active writer with numerous professional journal publications. Dr. Sorenson has authored textbooks, teacher resource guides, and workbooks related to elementary and secondary social studies curricula. He conducts workshops at the state and national levels, and he has been actively involved in numerous professional organizations, including the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), and the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP), for which he conducted annual new-principal academy workshops the previous 12-years.

Dr. Sorenson continues his research agenda in the area of the school principalship, specifically the examination of conditions and factors that inhibit and discourage lead teachers from entering school administration. He makes time each day to exercise, walking 4 to 10 miles, depending on how industrious he feels!

Dr. Sorenson has been married to his wife, Donna, the love of his life, for the past 40 years, and they have two adult children, Lisa (a second-grade teacher with Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in Houston, Texas) and Ryan (an Exercise Physiologist in El Paso, Texas), a wonderful son-in-law, Sam (a petroleum engineer in Houston, Texas), and two grandchildren, Savannah Grace and Nehemiah Timothy – all of whom are the pride and joy of his life. Rick and Donna reside in El Paso, Texas, on the U.S./Mexico border, with their home facing the majestic Franklin Mountains. Of course, the Sorenson family remains a lover of Pugs, most notably one Little Bit (wanna go?), and Olive (wanna snack?) too.

Richard is the author or co-author of four Corwin books: The Principal’s Guide to Time Management, The Principal’s Guide to School Budgeting, The Principal’s Guide to Curriculum Leadership, and The Principal’s Guide to Managing School Personnel.

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