Increasing Efficiency in Leadership

Matthew JosephAdministration, Blog, Class Management

In this Post:

  • A leader who practice useful efficiency techniques often finds that they are more productive.
  • One of the easiest ways to prioritize is to make a “to-do” list.
  • Block out time for your high priority activities first and protect that time from interruptions.
  • If you’re having trouble getting started, you may need to do some prep work such as collecting materials or organizing your notes.
  • Identify your most time-consuming tasks and determine whether you are investing your time in essential activities to help you.

The term Time Management is a misnomer. You cannot manage time; it is not possible. What you can manage is the events and tasks in your role as a leader in relation to time. I always hear “I want more” time, but you only get 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds each day (cue Rent theme). How you use that time depends on skills learned through self- analysis, planning, evaluation, and self-control. Much like money, time is both valuable and limited, and it must be protected.

A school day is often go-go-go and bustling with excitement, energy, and emotions. Most leaders arrive a couple of hours before students and staff and stay at least that long at the end of the day to tackle the email, phone calls, paperwork. While long days might be part of the role, most experienced leaders have learned some time management tricks and shortcuts to keep long hours under control. A leader who practice useful efficiency techniques often finds that they are more productive. Have more energy for things they need to accomplish. Feel less stressed will allow you to do the things they want. Get more things done and relate more positively to others

I am always trying to be an efficient leader, and I want to share some strategies I have found helpful.

Set Priorities. To manage your time effectively requires a distinction between what is important and what is urgent. One of the easiest ways to prioritize is to make a “to-do” list. Whether you need a daily, weekly, or monthly list depends on you. Just be careful not to allow the list-making to get out of control and do not keep multiple lists at the same time. Rank the items on your “to-do” list in order of priority.

[scroll down to keep reading]

Schedule your time appropriately. Scheduling is not just recording what you must do; it’s also making a time commitment to the things you want to do. Proper scheduling requires that you know yourself. Plan your most challenging tasks for when you have the most energy. Block out time for your high priority activities first and protect that time from interruptions.

Delegate. Get Help from Others. Delegation means assigning responsibility for a task to someone else, freeing up some of your time for tasks that require your expertise. Delegation begins by identifying tasks that others can do and then selecting the appropriate person(s) to do them.

Delegate. Get Help from Others. Delegation means assigning responsibility for a task to someone else, freeing up some of your time for tasks that require your expertise. Delegation begins by identifying tasks that others can do and… Click To Tweet

Stop Procrastinating. You may put off tasks for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the task seems overwhelming or unpleasant. Try breaking down the task into smaller segments that require less time commitment and result in specific, realistic deadlines. If you’re having trouble getting started, you may need to do some prep work such as collecting materials or organizing your notes.

Manage External Time Wasters. Your time may be impacted by external factors imposed by other people and things. You can decrease or eliminate time spent in these activities by implementing some simple tips such as:

  • Avoid small talk on the phone
  • Stay focused on the reason for the call
  • Start and end meetings on time
  • Turn off instant messaging features on email.

The more uninterrupted time you get during the day to work on priority tasks, the more effective you’ll be. Identify the activities that tend to disrupt your work, and find a solution. Like checking emails and answering the phone when you’re in the middle of something important. Once you have broken your flow, it can be difficult to reestablish it. Instead, discipline yourself to work on a task single-mindedly until it’s complete.

Review your day. Spend 5-10 minutes reviewing your task list every day before you leave school. Give yourself credit for achieving what you wanted. If you think your day’s efficiency fell short, decide what you’ll do differently tomorrow to accomplish what you need to. Leave school in high spirits determined to pick up the thread the next day.

Learn How You Spend Your Time. Keeping a time log is a helpful way to determine how you are using your time. Start by recording what you are doing for 15-minute intervals for a week or two. Now, look at the results. Identify your most time-consuming tasks and determine whether you are investing your time in essential activities to help you.

I always recommend starting your day with a clear focus. The first work-related activity of your day should be to determine what you want to achieve that day and what you absolutely must accomplish. Start your day with a clear purpose before you check your email and start responding to questions and resolving issues. Setting a clear focus for your day might require as little as five minutes, but can save you several hours of wasted time and effort.

I hope these strategies help in making you a more efficient leader. If you have some of your own, tweet them to @teachbetterteam and tag @MatthewXJoseph


About Matthew X. Joseph, Ed.D.

Dr. Matthew X. Joseph has been a school and district leader in many capacities in public education over his 25 years in the field. Experiences such as the Director of Digital Learning and Innovation in Milford Public Schools (MA), elementary school principal in Natick, MA and Attleboro, MA, classroom teacher, and district professional development specialist have provided Matt incredible insights on how to best support teaching and learning. This experience has led to nationally publishing articles and opportunities to speak at multiple state and national events. He is the author of Power of Us: Creating Collaborative Schools and co-author of Modern Mentoring, Reimagining Teacher Mentorship (Due out, fall 2019). His master’s degree is in special education and his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Boston College.

Visit Matthew’s Blog