Effective Time Management for School Leaders

Get Organized! Time Management for School Leaders, 2nd Edition 
By Frank Buck
(Routledge/Eye on Education, 2015/6 – Learn more)

janatovichReviewed by Michael Janatovich

In today’s world, the amount of information that we have access to is unlimited. This information leads to increased communications, data, and accessibility. As educators we can easily become overwhelmed, and that is why it is important that we “Get Organized!” Dr. Frank Buck has done a fantastic job in creating a functional read to help all educators get and stay organized.

While Get Organized! Time Management for School Leaders is a relatively quick read, it will instantly become your go-to manual as you look to increase your most valuable resource in education: Time.

get organized 15 16When I began planning this book review, I decided that I must put Dr. Buck’s thoughts into action first. I felt that I could not do this book justice if I did not implement the strategies that Buck spells out in Get Organized!

Being an assistant principal, I am currently in full swing with evaluations, 504’s, IEP’s, and various student activities. While I feel that I am “relatively” organized, putting Buck’s plan into action has allowed me to identify areas where my time is wasted and gives me a plan to recover that valuable time.

As administrators, we always wish we had more minutes and hours to work with kids and staff. We know that we are not getting any more time, so we must be more effective with our practice. Dr. Buck’s Get Organized! will give you those tools to become more efficient and allow you to target more of your time where it has the most impact: working with kids.

Where can we “find” time?

Buck begins by pointing out the obvious: clean out your clutter. A clear desk allows for clear thinking, and the author provides insight on how to accomplish a well-organized, productive desk space.

Initially, I was skeptical of reading a book that starts with cleaning a desk, but after implementing the “tickler file” and limiting the clutter on my desk to only the essential items he suggests, I quickly realized that an organized desk truly allows you to be more productive in educational matters.

Once you have cleaned the clutter, Buck guides you on how to stay on top of what needs to get done so you can be productive. Using his “signature tool,” you will become efficient in using a suite of resources that give us “command over our commitments.” I am sure that everyone uses a calendar, task list, contacts, notes, and email, but in Get Organized! Buck walks you through how to use them for maximum efficiency and productivity within the school day. (Check out this signature tool post at his website.)

Currently we are going through a transitional time in education. Technology is overtaking the educational landscape, but not every educator has made the commitment to the transition. I would argue that for some educators this is not due to their  unwillingness to change but to a “lack of time.”

Frank Buck both provides “low tech” and “high tech” ways to become organized. I find this powerful because if we can get educators organized and free up their time, they will have a better opportunity to commit to the technological shift. Teachers, administrators, and even kids are more likely to take educational risks when their stress levels are lower. Getting organized is the quickest way to relieve this stress.

What can you expect?

Get Organized! Time Management for School Leaders is a rich resource written in a clear, easy-to-implement manner. The following is a list of just some of the key concepts that Buck will help you tackle in your day-to-day operations as an educator.

  • Utilizing calendars, task list, notes, contacts, and email
  • Implementing a paper flow system
  • Handling repeating tasks
  • Managing a flood of information
  • Handling multiple projects
  • What to do with paper?
  • What to do with digital content?
  • Implementing Evernote

In 121 pages, Buck can put you on track to becoming an organized, efficient school leader. The benefits of accomplishing this will have a resounding affect amongst your staff. He could not have said truer words: “The reality of school leadership is that we have much on our plates. We need tools to help us stay on top of it all.” Get Organized! will provide you with those tools to get your time back and “make today count.”

My implementation of Dr. Buck’s system

People who need help getting organized do not have the time to read an ineffective book about getting organized. That is why I wanted to put Get Organized! into action as a part of my book review. I wanted to see the actual effect that this book would have on my day-to-day operations as a school leader.

After implementing many of the systems in this book, I have found that this truly is a valuable resource for ALL educators. My biggest finding is that it streamlined many trivial processes for me. In areas where I thought I was efficient with my time (tasks, email, and processing new information), I actually was very inefficient.

A big example for me was using my email. By following Buck’s imperative — “delete it, schedule it, do it, delegate it, or save it” — I have been able to not only reduce my inbox daily to zero emails, I have been more effective in completing tasks in a timely manner with successful results.

Our time is so valuable in education. Every minutes counts. I am a firm believer that as school leaders we MUST be in the classrooms with our teachers and students. The only way this will happen is if we are efficient with our time as we complete less rewarding but necessary tasks. Dr. Frank Buck has provided school leaders with a GREAT resource to get some time back so we can shift our focus from paperwork and emails to the most important thing in educations: OUR KIDS.

Michael Janatovich (@mjanatovich) is assistant principal at Harmon Middle School in Aurora, Ohio. Before moving into school leadership, Mike taught middle level science and social studies for almost 10 years. He was recently selected as an 2015 ASCD Emerging Leader. Also see his recent article “The Power of Emotion” at the ASCD Inservice blog.

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