Dr. Juan Juarez’s Together Tour: Issue #103

Jan 23, 2024

Together Friends!

We have almost made it through January! I’m not really one for radical resolutions or sweeping New Year’s statements, but I do like reading reflections such as What Worked / What Didn’t and Gentle January.

And we are back with another behind-the-scenes peek at Togetherness. Versha’s and Crystal’s Together Tours were met with a great response, and today I am excited to share another Together Human with you. Read on to meet the amazing Dr. Juarez!

Want more Together Tours? Nominate yourself or others by clicking here. Fine print: We will not be able to showcase all nominations, but we will read them all in depth and reply!

Together Tour: Dr. Juan Juarez

I’ve known Dr. Juan Juarez for over a decade, from teacher-leader in 2012 to school founder to nonprofit leader here in 2024. In fact, I remember well a moment in Houston from some years ago – when he showed up to a Together Training with an APPLE PEN. At the time, these were very novel, and Juan was gracious enough to chat with me about how he continues to use technology in Togetherness – in service of results and rest.

Why is Togetherness essential in your role? 

Togetherness is crucial in my role because I lead the New School Design Fellowship, which involves collaborating with various school districts to redesign educational institutions. In this capacity, I coach principals and work closely with a team of colleagues who are instrumental in leading professional development and providing guidance to principals.

What are your Top Two Together Tools and why?

  • Below is my calendar, which plays a vital role in my daily life. I rely on it to facilitate decision-making throughout my day and week. To enhance my time management, I use color-coding to categorize different types of meetings, planning sessions, and personal activities. The screenshot provided offers a glimpse into how I allocate my time.

I rely on the Motion App, an AI assistant that simplifies my life in numerous ways. It acts as a central hub, seamlessly merging my calendars, functioning as a project manager, assisting with task management, and even scheduling meetings as needed. One remarkable feature is its ability to autonomously schedule my tasks, considering factors like importance, timing, and my calendar’s availability. Even if I happen to miss completing a task, the AI assistant automatically reschedules it based on available time slots. This capability has been a game-changer, significantly increasing my productivity and saving me a substantial amount of time each week. And as you can see from my task list (screenshot below), I need all the time I can get! (Editor’s note: anyone else using AI to help stay Together? Please write me here with what tricks you have tried!​)

What is the first and last thing you do at work each day?

I am mostly remote with some travel throughout the year (convenings, school visits, school quality reviews).

When I start work, I do the following:

  • Scan my emails for critical emails (I don’t spend time responding to non-urgent emails because I’ve built that into my close-out-the-day routine).
  • Scan my WhatsApp for any urgent messages from the team.
  • Open any materials for first meeting.
  • I always allow about 5-10 minutes to get settled in and set my desk up for work.

Before I end my workday, I always do a close out (Editor’s Note: You can see it in the calendar!)

  • Answer emails
  • Answer WhatsApp messages for the day
  • Preview my day for tomorrow (meetings and tasks).
  • See which tasks were automatically moved if I didn’t get to them right away.

How do you use Togetherness with colleagues, students, managers, board members, etc?

  • I build planning time into my calendar for meetings and tasks, so I always come prepared to meetings.
  • I prep team meetings on Fridays every week and have agendas ready to go before the following week.
  • I send pre-work for any meeting to my teammates at the beginning of the week.
  • I send agendas at least 24 hours in advance to any principal I coach.
  • I prep my manager check-ins on Fridays and send my talking points to my manager prior to our check-in so they have time to internalize.

Some Together Tricks I do that no one knows about are. . .

  • I value ME TIME and do not have any work tool on my phone! No email, no WhatsApp, no Google drive, etc. It’s all on my work computer and pushes me to be very productive and Together during the day!
  • Use delivery services to buy back as much time as possible in my schedule! For example, I use Instacart and have the SAME shopping cart pretty much every week. (This also helps with budgeting!)
  • Have a backup plan for morning and evening routines. I can downgrade to a max 2-step morning/night routine when I am feeling extra tired or have had a long day (I love Cetaphil and a simple moisturizer)!

Some areas that you are NOT Together and fine with this are. . . 

  • At times, my weekends have no specific plans. I could use my free time better on the weekends, but I love for it not to be driven by my calendar since my workdays are so fully booked.
  • Charging my electronics (apple watch, iPhone, iPad). I am just terrible at it! So I have a backup energizer battery pack that saves my life!

When you are at your most Together, your lunch at work is _________!

A meal-prepped meal that I cooked on Sunday/Wednesday! 😊

If you could recommend one purchase from an office supply store, it would be . . .

A journal. For those times that technology just fails! I use an iPad for my notes but (as mentioned above!) at times I don’t charge it and am so happy that I have a paper backup.

Juan, thank you for helping us learn more about how AI and discipline keeps you Together. We are INTRIGUED.  

We’ll be back in February with another Together Tour – this time we’ll see how a 20+ year teacher in Virginia keeps it Together.


Together Treasure Box

  • How to Waste Time. Has anyone listened to this podcast yet? I didn’t know the term “chronopobia” (hint: it’s the worry about the experience of time passing). And while we are at it, let’s abolish the fantasy of imagining that we will ever be Totally Together. Thank you, Oliver Burkeman.
  • Still Need to DeDeck the Halls? Well, I didn’t hang outside holiday lights this year, but we still had some dedecking to do. This podcast had me at the “write yourself a note for next year.” I just listed out our holiday card address updates (we sent almost 400 cards this year!), and made a note about what worked with Heyck Family Mediterranean Fest Food and Cousin Camp Winter Edition.
  • Rethinking your Together School Lunch Tray? Yes, please. This is a bit out of my Together Lane, but I loved this story of two school networks we know well rethinking how students are fueled throughout the day. High top tables, cozy cafeteria booths, and culinary classes! Yes, please! PS Want to see my Together Travel food? Slightly cringy (only bc I hate seeing myself on camera!) video here