Monday, February 24, 2014

Effective Living for Effective Teaching

Guest Post: Effective Living for Effective Teaching

Every professional adult these days seems to have a short supply of time. They tell me that the 24 hours per day ratio is still the accepted standard, but surely we have less time than we
did when we were 9 or 10. Between being a teacher, administrator, secretary, mom, dad, son, daughter, church member, coach, fan, hobbiest, etc.…there’s just not enough time – is there? A few weeks ago, my school attended an education conference and one of the sessions I attended discussed “Personal Management”. The material for the talk led by Esther Williams, M.Ed. was primarily from the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. In this blog, I would like to share with you some of the things presented that made an impression on me as a professional educator. The talk structured all of the things we “do” in our lives into four categories:

1. Urgent and Important (critical activities)
2. Not Urgent, but Important (important goals, relationships)
3. Urgent, but Not Important (interruptions)
4. Not Urgent and Not Important (distractions)

This is called the Urgent/Important matrix. We all have moments in each category and that is perfectly normal, but the premise is to spend as much time as possible in the 2nd stage (not urgent/important). Category 2 includes health, professional, and family/relationship goals. Often as educators at any level, we find ourselves going through each day in “crisis management” mode – putting out fires and trying not to get burned. Sometimes, we live mon-fri consumed by category 1 and 3 so much that we find ourselves overdoing category 4 anytime we can. Ultimately, when we have to keep dealing with categories 1 and 3 we are not the best educators we can be for our students (or parents/children,
coach/players). We need to schedule time for careful long term and short term planning,
professional development, and creativity if we believe it has value. If we procrastinate on these
important, but often no urgent things, they will soon become urgent or never happen properly
from the start.

Critical activities and interruptions will always be a part of our lives; however, if we make a
conscious effort to plan and prioritize not urgent, but important things every day (that includes
Saturday and Sunday) we will be taking one more step toward reducing stress for the future and
reaching our private and professional goals. Today and this week, I challenge you to think about
what distractions you could limit or delete all together and schedule time to do not urgent, but
important things that move you toward your personal and professional goals.

Here are some not urgent but important ideas:

• Developing a personal purpose statement
• Setting personal and family goals
• Planning your time every week and making time in your schedule for other category 2
• Reading scripture, praying and meditating
• Personal exercise
• Nutrition planning
• Date nights with your spouse and with the kids
• Family nights
• Visualizing, reading and writing affirmations
• Career planning
• Journaling
• Wholesome recreation with the family
• Record your favorite television show and fast forward through the commercials.
• Read a book related to your educational field
• Enroll in an educational class

Give it a try and see what you can learn.

Tim is the Algebra 1 and 2, Trig, PreCalc, and PE teacher and Athletic
Director at Christ Our Rock LHS in Centralia IL.  He enjoys his job as a
teacher and coach, being with family, and all types of recreational activities.


  1. Breaking tasks down into the four categories above is really important for me! I tend to think everything is in category 1.

  2. Great stuff! Awesome reminders on time management.

  3. I'm really good at activities in category 4. Good reminder of where the priorities need to be!