Zen Productivity & Time Management for Teachers – it’s a game changer.
I came up with this recently by accident. I’ve been tidying up one of our rental properties at present with a friend and normally, on arrival at the site, I’d spend a few minutes to an hour being completely overwhelmed by the amount of work there is to be done. Then I’d spend the next 4 or 5 hours starting one task after another and finishing none of them.
I found myself moving from task to task and unintentionally doing anything I could to avoid or stall making decent progress – constantly checking my ‘phone, changing the radio station, going to make a cup of tea, talking with my work mate, finding something else to take priority etc. etc.
Perhaps there are parallels here in terms of your work – multiple tasks all crying our for your attention, constant stream of emails and memos to attend to, new problems with students materialising all the time, more and more meetings and a mountain of paperwork which never seems to diminish?
In my case the result is…. NOTHING finished. Just a load of part finished little jobs. No sense of satisfaction or completion, limited progress and a ‘to-do’ list that keeps on growing.
Again, maybe you can see parallels in your work?
In my case I have to admit that it comes down to my nature. I’m naturally quite a scatty person. Disorganised and often totally unfocussed. I did an online ‘test yourself for ADHD’ thing once and my score was off the scale.
Thing is though, although it’s in my nature to behave this way, I don’t HAVE to. None of us do. We all have a choice – a choice in how we approach things like this and in how we behave in any given situation.
So… yesterday everything changed. I made a simple choice and applied a very simple focusing technique.
In two hours I achieved more than I had done in the previous two days. I literally flew through every job, effortlessly. Doing the work in this manner actually became a very enjoyable game – where previously it was a series of laborious, time-eating chores.
So, what did I do to make this huge shift? Well, it all comes down to setting small goals (yeah, yeah, heard it all before) combined with… and this is the magic bit… a change in awareness.
I’m reluctant to call this ‘mindfulness’ because people often switch off at the mere mention of the word but that’s essentially what it is. It’s a case of spending a moment or two settling yourself down and then applying mindful awareness directly to the task in hand. Works like a charm.
Focusing this way is a very simple profess really. When I teach mindfulness to clients we talk about having ‘an anchor’ for your thoughts – something to place your attention on whenever your mind wanders. In this scenario, the task in hand becomes the anchor so that whenever you find yourself wanting to do something else or getting distracted in some way, you simply bring your mind back to the task. Told you it was simple. Just takes a bit of practice.
Once you get into the groove you can literally find yourself smiling at the distractions and the mental activity that tries to pull you away from a task. It’s almost laughable how busy our minds are and how they try every trick to procrastinate and prevent us completing what we set out to do. But with this tool you can payfully blaze through those distractions. No need to fight with them, chant affirmations or get annoyed; productivity becomes a game.
So, next time you have multiple projects to do try this:
Pick ONE of them, any one, doesn’t matter. And set yourself a rough time limit to either complete it or (if it’s a huge project) to apply yourself to it without a break. I suggest just 10-15 minutes at first.
Once you’ve set your target (and note that this is a ‘rough’ target. It’s not like those hard and fast rules that motivational gurus scream, just something to loosely aim for) you then simply get on with it.
The magic comes from noticing what is going on in your mind as you go about this. It will come up with all kinds of reasons why you should do something else instead. Let it. This isn’t a process of fighting with your thoughts – it’s more about simply watching those thoughts and doing your best to let them be. By simply noticing them, rather than getting drawn in to them, you can be completely free to continue what you’re doing in a conscious state of awareness. Normally we go about most tasks in a largely unconscious, ‘auto-pilot’ state in which it is so easy to be influenced by whims, thoughts and emotions. By becoming more aware of what you’re doing, you become the one who is in control of your thoughts, rather than the other way round.
In this way you’re CHOOSING to live your life on your terms – rather than being thrown this way and that as a victim to your emotions and circumstance. It’s incredibly liberating.
Oh, one more important bit… At the end of your 20-30 minutes have a mini-break. Just take a moment to acknowledge what you’ve just achieved – it’s a huige step towards being far more productive.
Now, If you would like to learn more about this method AND learn some additional very funky methods to manage your time and increase your efficiency productivity even further…
…I’ve put together a new 90-minute, instant-access program called Zen Productivity for Teachers.
(All the materials and the method itself are instantly available to enable you to start saving time straight away!)
Please share with teachers who are in need of more free time!