When I started teaching at age 22, with just two large classes in a high powered high school, I had great ideas. About 10% of my great ideas turned out to be pretty good lesson plans. But behind all of the ideas, there was a jumble. I struggled to keep up with all of the paperwork, grading, recording, communication and everything else. As my career has progressed, those bureaucratic paperwork responsibilities have only increased.
In 2006, I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I wish I had read it 25 years before.
It’s not a Stephen Covey-esque book that helps with prioritizing, nor is it a leadership guide. It is a down-to-basics-where-to-put-all-of-that-paperwork guide. And it’s great. You have to buy in. Those of you with adequate systems may think it unnecessary. I love it. I have the audible version in my car (Audible.com downloads it right to your iPod) and I listen to it at least once a year. I buy extra copies of the book to give to administrators struggling with paperwork. And I make time each week at work and at home to keep the system working.
Sit down in your office on a weekend, with hundreds of blank file folders, a large trash can, your calendar and a label maker (absolutely essential) and you are set. Plan on 4-6 hours of time set aside. Then, plan on doing the same thing at home. I’m telling you, it will change your life. After implementing the system at home, my wife told a friend, “My husband has completely changed our home – I think I’m falling in love all over again!” Now that’s high praise!