The bottom line: this simple organisational idea is brilliant and works
really effectively, but only if you really do follow the order shown.
How I use this
In my office, I have a rectangular whiteboard, which I have divided into four quadrants, and labelled them as above. Whenever something comes up, I add it to the correct section.
I have tried many different to-do systems, but this one hands down is the best at forcing you to prioritise. For those who really lack discipline, why not further subdividing the first quadrant (Important AND Urgent)?
This is probably very common to most people, but I have been surprised by the number of people who haven’t come across it yet, so felt I would share! It is from a brilliant book called ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen, which has taken on productivity to a whole new level (to be reviewed soon in my 2012 series).
Try it, and to any app developers out there, a stripped down note-taker that operated using this matrix, with the facility of cutting off ‘treats’ such as SMA or music unless certain tasks were crossed off would be fantastic!
Do you use it? If so, how?
I have never been the most enthusiastic tracker of information, and especially in a busy school day, it can be quickly overwhelming to keep track of everything the children can produce in a day.
This year however that is exactly what I have done. In a bid to ensure that I am really getting the most out of each pupil in terms of their capability to produce work of their highest ability, I am macro-managing their work. Every single piece is noted and recorded in my mark book, which is quickly filling up in an unusually-satisfying way, and I can see at a glance changes, adjustments, dips and little levels of progress on these rows of ticks, numbers and notes.
What is strange is that i am using #oldschool methods – that is, pen and paper. There are of course lots of Apps for my iPad or iPhone that would do this for me, probably more efficiently, faster and almost definitely more neatly, and yet there is a refreshing rawness about the page which I am responding to in a really positive way. In fact, I feel more on top of my pupils’ work than I have ever done, so it is worth the slog of this macro-management. It has of course changed my teaching for the better too, since I am able to respond much more quickly to gaps I discover, rather than letting them fall through the sieve of time.
It would seem that the more technology is an attraction to me, it also highlights the myriad benefits of #oldschool techniques. Just as we wouldn’t use Excel to teach every Maths lesson, sometimes, someone needs to stand up for good old pen and paper. I think this explains the reason why so many Diary Apps have the option of ‘writing’ on various types of ‘paper’ – we still have this desire to physically connect, even digitally.
They say the first step of anything is the hardest, but I disagree. It is even considering that step, recognising that need, that is the hardest part. Got a problem? You need to acknowledge it before you can move on, or else you’re simply burying it. Deal with things by first recognising they need to be dealt with first.
Oliver Burkeman writes in his book Help that the key to breaking procrastination is to not wait until it feels right to start something; we are all very good at persuading ourselves a little job can wait until… whenever.
In the classroom, we expect the children to follow instructions so often, I think we sometimes neglect to raise the value in procrastination management. Certainly, I think that some agegroups in Key Stage Two are old enough to be able to discuss time strategies, as well as why they might avoid carrying certain tasks out.
Through some careful work combined with serendipitous luck, I have managed to get a 32GB iPad ahead of the UK launch. I understand from a friend that in New York, stocks were limited per store, and that the staff were also insisting on US passports to purchase them, such is the demand/control of launch by Apple. Continue reading