Overworked principals is probably a redundant statement. Whether we’re at a holiday recital until 9 as an elementary principal or a Friday night football game until 11:00pm as high school one, most of us would agree that we work a lot. Even if we discounted those nights many of work in the towns in which we live and have to fill that role of school leader in the grocery store or at the local pub. That being said how can we find more time in our day so that when we finally do get home we can focus on our family life? These three things that overworked principals do can be pared down and even replaced.
Think everything is essential
An overworked principal is often a new one. As such we think that everything that comes to us must be completed now. I often got caught in that trap. The latest or the most recent problem that came to my attention is the one I tried to solve. This left things undone and sometimes forgotten until I was asked about it again.
To avoid this scenario it may help to think about your day as a book you’re studying for specific information. When you’re skimming through a book you skip the information that you don’t need. You must be disciplined enough to do the same with your daily events. What do you absolutely need to do in order to be highly effective? Those are the priorities that you focus on first. Everything else can either be eliminated or delegated. Learn to say no, or I’ll get back to you. This will give you valuable time to think and have a proper response.
Lack of Focus
A principal who is swamped with busy work usually lacks focus. He hasn’t internalized his school’s goals and brings to projects into the school that might not align with the stated goal. Last year as a new principal if something seemed cool I would want to bring it to my team and implement it. I was lucky in that when needed I was reminded that we didn’t have time to do everything I wanted and still get our stated goals accomplished.
To continue the book metaphor from above when you’re reading you focus on a particular theme. Keeping focused on your mission will help you make decisions about what you bring into your school. This will save time as you only allow programs that support your plan. If you want to decrease your odds of being overwhelmed stay focused on the mission until it is complete.
Failure to use leverage
A principal who is overwhelmed often thinks that she or he must do everything and forgets to leverage the strengths of the staff, students and even technology. From my own experience one of the pools of talent that I dismissed at the beginning of the year was that of the students. Many things fell through the cracks because of this, including getting our seniors’ pictures into the yearbook. This year I’m holding a meeting prior to school’s start and giving them an opportunity to sign up for jobs that will help create buy-in and get things accomplished.
To finish up the book metaphor, “skimming” isn’t the only way to save time. The same applies to time management. Use technology to help save time, find others who complement your weaknesses so that important tasks can get done more quickly. Save your bandwidth for things only you can do. An overwhelmed principal fails to leverage the skill sets and the technology around him.
Time for a principal is precious, an overworked principal thinks everything is essential and gets buried in busy work, lacks focus on specific goals and gets distracted by every cool proposal that comes across her desk, and fails to leverage the strengths of those around him . What are other ways overworked principals squander their time? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
For more short articles and tips that support educational leaders check out my blog at the www.howtobeagreatprincpal.com and order my newest book How To Be A Great Principal: 36 Shared Leadership Success Strategies. If you’re an auditory learner you can download my podcast The Principal Entrepreneur, on itunes and podomatic, new episodes weekly. Finally, I’m part of a community of supportive principals please join our private FB group.
I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......