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February 21, 2014

Know Thyself: Adapt Your Systems

Last week in Memphis I met Parker C., a middle school teacher with a rockin’ Weekly Worksheet already in place. Clearly a man for a committed relationship, there was nary a Post-it Note in sight!

Parker’s Weekly Worksheet had all the great elements of a strong weekly plan:

  1. Priorities articulated
  2. Meetings and appointments noted
  3. A plan for his “flexible” time
  4. And . . . room to capture whatever came up during the week!

Parker had a good thing going on. His tool worked for him, his habits were strong, and he used his Weekly Worksheet consistently. But there were two things he noted that could be better.

Challenge #1: Learning How to Prioritize When You Are A Task-Driven Person Who’s Prone To Making Huge Lists

He noted, “I found the flexibility of large spaces for each day ideal. However, prioritizing tasks became very difficult and things were beginning to fall through the cracks.”

Parker needed to manage both his lists and his energy!

The Fix:  He decided to split his daily boxes in half with high energy tasks on top and low energy tasks on the bottom. He aptly observed,

My brain is shot when I go home at 6pm, so by categorizing my daily tasks into these two categories I ensure that I prioritize correctly while I am at school when I am at my best.

Challenge #2: What To Do With All That Other Important Information That Clutters Your Weekly Worksheet

Parker places a huge priority on family relationships. But as he shared, “My parent contacts were not being recorded because I was jotting them down in the midst of my daily tasks.”

The Fix: He decided to make a simple table on the back of his Weekly Worksheet where he can record parent phone calls while they happen. This makes planning parent contact and record-keeping much easier.

Now let’s look at Parker’s Weekly Worksheet after the fixes. First he split his daily boxes into high and low energy tasks.

And Parker added that second page on the back (copied double sided) for Parent Contacts.

What I’m really crushing on over here (Yuck, did I just write “crushing on?!” I did. I’m a gusher. You know this.) is the fact that Parker HAD a relatively strong system in place. He didn’t need to mess with it. But he really examined his tool and his habits, and he adapted both to make two small moves that will improve his professional and personal life!

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