I love the TV show The West Wing. Martin Sheen plays fictional President of the United States Jed Bartlet.

I want to be Jed Bartlet.

Advisors – dealing with 101 major problems – race into the Oval Office, Jed listens to all points of view, he pauses for a second, makes a decision and then asks ‘What’s next?’ He’s really got it going on – just like that in a few seconds – this is a man who gets things done.

http://www.nbc.com/The_West_Wing/

One of the things I found most difficult when I became DoS was getting things done. Which is a bit unfortunate as I’m paid to, well, get things done.

There were just so many long-term projects, so many requests from students, teachers, marketing people and the school director, so many last-minute problems to resolve that I seemed to be busy for ten hours a day and yet still get very little done. Long-term projects sat on ominous to-do-lists and I was even beginning to turn up late for matches at The English Football Pub. Something had to be done.

The best piece of advice I had about time management was very simple – Plan The Week.

I was told to have a look at Stephen R. Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits.php

http://www.youtube.com/user/FranklinCoveyVideos

Thanks to that book, I’ve discovered the world’s greatest time-management tool – a diary that displays the week with the days arranged in columns.

I can’t overestimate how useful this tool has been. Instead of seeing time in blocks of days, I now think in terms of weeks. Of course the diary’s not much use to you if it’s left blank.

  • Every Sunday sit down and block off any fixed appointments you have.
  • Look at your to-do list and make appointments with yourself for the most important tasks
  • Leave space every day for the pleasant surprises that make our jobs so exciting
  • Make time at the end of the week to review how your projects are progressing.

You can find a lot more details (and some great tips on how to prioritise your tasks) in Stephen R. Covey’s book. Another resource that you might find useful is David Allen’s book Getting Things Done.

http://www.davidco.com/

Now, unfortunately it hasn’t turned me into Martin Sheen, but taking the time to plan my week has meant I feel much more in control of what I’m doing. I also feel I’m spending much more time doing things with long-term benefits rather than just responding to a constant stream of emergencies. It requires a bit of discipline (you have to keep those appointments you make with yourself) but it really does work.

I would love to know your time management tips, so please leave a comment.