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  • School principal needs help!

    Hi GTDers!
    I am trying to implement GTD but am running into roadblocks often. The only part of the system that I have been able to consistently use is the tickler file. I block off time for a weekly review, but something always seems to pop up (as an elementary school principal I find myself driven by the loudest crisis du jour, or bombarded with a never ending stream of "you gotta minute?"). When I do fit in a weekly review it is at the expense of my family and done in my home office on the weekend. I have OmniFocus and sometimes remember to use it to track to dos and projects . . . it's just the remembering to check and review those lists that is tricky for me.
    I will be attending a GTD conference here in Denver next month and am hoping that this will be the thing that pushes me over the hump. In the meantime do any of you out there have any helpful hints to get me on track?

    Thanks!!

  • #2
    Finding time for weekly review

    I also have trouble finding time for weekly review and get behind sometimes.

    I usually do my weekly review in bits and pieces. I have a list of things I do
    during weekly review; they don't all need to be done at the same time. So I
    do bits of it while I'm riding a bus or waiting in line at the bank. It's not
    easy writing while the bus is moving, but if there is no ideal time to do it,
    I can do it during a time that is not ideal.

    Sometimes I eat my lunch outside on workdays and
    do the weekly review there. (I've done
    it with mittens on.) That might not work for a school principal, but maybe you
    can find a place where nobody would be able to find you: a tiny room somewhere
    you can close yourself into for an hour once a week.

    I also try to cut down the list of what I do during weekly review
    to only those things I really think are essential.

    I'm in the process of trying to figure out which parts of my weekly review
    need to be done by a certain day of the week, and which days I consider
    to be the beginning and end of the week. Currently, I let myself do the
    review anytime during a 7-day week beginning on Sunday.

    When I finish the weekly review I immediately give myself a reward.

    Comment


    • #3
      projects vs routines

      I suspect that a lot of what you do follows a pre-determined routine that was established by the district, local practice, the school calendar is probably preeminent in this. Maybe you could divide your review into two parts: one would be a weekly review of projects, meaning something new you are doing outside of the usual practices. The other, which maybe could be done monthly, would be a review of routines. You might ahve a daily review of "bits and pieces" meaning phone calls and emails that come in that if you fail to stay on top of you get in trouble for.

      Comment


      • #4
        One of the things I had to learn was that I don't have to have a 100% open door. (I'm a paediatrician). When in my office I leave the door open if I'm happy to be interrupted e.g. have you got a minute? If the door is shut then I am not to be disturbed except for an emergency e.g. a sick patient. I guess I shut my door about once or twice a week for an hour at a time. During that time my secretary takes messages and acts as the filter.

        Could you do that for your weekly review? Maybe scheduled at a time when the kids have gone home and the staff are stil lin?

        Ruth

        Comment


        • #5
          I'd suggest blocking out 1 hour daily. Use this time to move and delegate projects. Move this time on friday to do the review. Ask you deputy to act instead of you during this our.

          Comment


          • #6
            I don't need to do this anymore, but for years I did my reviews on a Sunday by bringing my laptop and folder with in-basket contents to a cafe. As long as I was physically inaccessible, there was no temptation to get lured into manufactured emergencies, and it made it inconvenient to immediately dive into acting on some item that came up during the review at the expense of processing everything to completion. I even put a [2] notation in front of next actions that would otherwise been done immediately per the two-minute rule; then I would do them all the two-minute tasks right after finishing the review. As long as you're around coworkers and family, you'll find a reason to allow interruptions.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks for the suggestions! I think that doing the bulk of the weekly review on Sundays is my best bet for the time being. Thankfully my husband is very supportive and is willing to divert our daughter's attention during that time.
              I do close my door (at school) on occasion, unfortunately my secretary doesn't share the same philosophy as I do and is quick to interrupt me with things that are not that urgent. She has even sent people into my office saying, "Oh, she's in there - she's just organizing paperwork. Just pop your head in." But that is a matter for a different forum!!
              Thanks again!

              Comment


              • #8
                "do not disturb" signs

                I have a sign on my office door that says "Welcome. Please disturb." That's useful
                when I've only closed my door because of noise or air-conditioning or something.
                However, occasionally I cover that sign with one that says "Do not disturb."

                You could try something like that. I think you could probably train your
                secretary to act differently. An essential part of the training would be
                that when she does allow you to be interrupted, you ask whether
                it's a real emergency, then after about half a sentence or
                a short sentence, interrupt them with "I'm sorry, but this is my
                focus time. I'll get back to you in about half an hour.", remind
                the secretary again not to interrupt you, and close
                the door -- no matter how tempting it may be to do otherwise!
                If you do this consistently for a few weeks, except for real, real,
                very very much genuine emergencies, I think your secretary will
                get the idea.

                You could give your secretary a list of examples of the types
                of things you do or do not want to be interrupted for.

                I think a key part of making that work is that the "do not
                disturb" sign is only up for a fraction of the time. How you
                respond when you are interrupted is another key part.
                Avoid giving quick, useful answers even if you can!!
                Don't provide any information your secretary didn't
                have already, e.g. what time you'll be available again!
                Any useful response you give will give your secretary the
                idea that interrupting you was the right thing to do.

                Easier to find somewhere else in the school to do your review, maybe.
                Or sneaking in the back door so your secretary thinks you're not there??
                How about installing a lock on the door?!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by hexemom View Post
                  unfortunately my secretary doesn't share the same philosophy as I do and is quick to interrupt me with things that are not that urgent. She has even sent people into my office saying, "Oh, she's in there - she's just organizing paperwork. Just pop your head in."
                  An essential practice to cope with this is to always have a pen and paper next to you on the desk, if someone comes in say 'I'll be right with you I just need to write this down', then write what you are doing/thinking about, so when they leave you can take up the piece of paper and go straight back to what you were doing.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks! I do appreciate the ideas. cwoodgold, I DO think I need to be more clear about what is a "true" emergency and will definitely explain that I will get back with my secretary or other staff members at a designated time (AFTER my review!).

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                    • #11
                      The salespeople in our office use a tool that might be helpful getting you started. Each week or so, they print a "hot list" of clients for whom they want to be interrupted, no matter what else they're doing. Your list might be teachers, students, etc. instead of customers, but the premise is the same: list 10 or 12 people that you anticipate might call or show up with a truly critical need. You could even list "emergency" scenarios along with people, if there are situations you can describe that always require your personal attention immediately.

                      This does two things. First, it gives your assistant an easy starting point for those "do I disturb or not?" decisions. Second, it gets at least some of the worry off of your mind over possibly missing a key phone call because your assistant thought it wasn't important.

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                      • #12
                        Closing doors.

                        Originally posted by hexemom View Post
                        I do close my door (at school) on occasion, unfortunately my secretary doesn't share the same philosophy as I do and is quick to interrupt me with things that are not that urgent. She has even sent people into my office saying, "Oh, she's in there - she's just organizing paperwork. Just pop your head in." But that is a matter for a different forum!!
                        It is very important to clearly inform your secretary what it means that you close the door.

                        In my case closed door means:

                        Nobody can enter except for a firefighter!

                        I do not pay any attention to any person who opens the door and tries to interrupt what I am doing.

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