Successfully Managing Time as a School Leader

Discover how I managed to reset and reconsider my time management strategies after the stresses of Covid. Learn how I created a comprehensive task list to help me focus and stay efficient, while also prioritizing my mental health. As a school leader, I understand the challenges of unpredictability, but with careful planning and prioritization, I was able to find clarity and balance.

Over my time in education I have tried many different ways to track and manage my time. One of the key issues for a school leader or headteacher is time management. The aim is to be as efficient as possible. Following Covid and the massive stresses that this brought with it I have found myself having to reset and reconsider what I need to do and how best to manage my time. We are, or at least I feel that we are, well behind in a number of areas that I would like us to be further ahead in. I am also trying to stay conscious that this kind of pressured thinking could lead me to give an unreasonable amount of time to trying to get back on track. I want to guard against this as much as possible whilst also do the very best with the time that I have. In particular I need to ensure that I look after myself mentally. Other colleagues that I chat to or coach are having similar battles.

So with the above in mind I started to create a list of various tasks that are needed to carry out my role. I have done this sort of thing previously but not as comprehensively as I did last weekend. Starting with the HT standards I began by building a list of various jobs that I need to do on a daily, weekly, monthly, termly and yearly basis. Next I considered tasks I have to complete for our governance structure as well as other reporting requirements that are placed upon me. Our school is only small and I lead two subjects, so this also had to be factored in. I added my teaching slot/s, residential visit that I normally attend and a range of other things that I could think of.

Next I looked at the priority I wanted to place on each task. I prefer using a matrix approach for this (important/urgent etc). Once this was completed I reviewed and re-planned my diary to ensure that I am getting the very important items covered regardless of what else is happening.

Reflecting afterward I am content that I have carried out this task in the level of detail that I have as it has really helped me to find focus and clarity. I added columns for time taken and frequency needed for the various tasks. Next I used the sum feature on the spreadsheet to determine how much time was needed in total (having already worked out the likely hours I had available on the hours that I wanted to work. Unsurprisingly, I now need to look at what I might not do if I want to keep my working hours in check. The other problem, of course, is that if you are a school leader things have a habit of appearing that you might not have predicted. Only just this last week I lost an entire afternoon due to having to investigate an issue that had arisen, not something that I can fully plan for.

Having carried out the above I was interested in whether I could find an AI diary tool that might help me to manage my diary. I thought that there must be a tool out there that has reached the stage where it can automatically add in all of the various jobs that I want to do. Currently there are some good tools out there but none of the ones I have tried are able to plan more than a few months in advance. This is unhelpful as I need to plan further forward really. I turned off most of the tools that I have tried so far except one. At the moment the Reclaim tool is still turned on. If I delete an entry it will rebook it for me in another suitable gap or it will split a task across two available slots. It does not do all the things I was after but can be used for the regular monthly meetings that we all need to have. If you know of a tool or even a task that I have missed of my list please do let me know.

I have shared the task list below so that if you want to use it as a starting point for yourself, or if you just want to be nosey, you can.

Download my draft sheet below. Fill in your tasks / adapt the ones I have put in. Filter by week/month/yr as you plan/review your calendar. Let me know if the comments if you spot any tasks I should include that I have missed!

The product mentioned above can be found here:

Reclaim | Smart Scheduling for Busy Teams

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