With the new School Year upon us, much time and energy is being spent preparing and connecting as we re-imagine and focus our Learning Spaces for our Students and ourselves.
Definitely, this is a time for new beginnings, focused ideas and goals, as well as for opportunities and new collaborations to emerge as we move forward across our journeys of Teaching and Learning. Quite often for me, this is a time to reflect on the past year to consider how in my role I may improve my ability to connect with others (through Co-Teaching, the facilitation of Professional Learning, or even in focused Discussion with Students and Colleuges), and how these connections can mobilize opportunities for Learning for all and our building of capacity.
Yet , I am often left wondering: what is the best approach to take this preparation on? Is it that piece of reading that will shift my thinking, or the way in which I approach my style of information sharing? Should my focus be on my workflow and balance of tasks specific to the priorities at hand? Indeed, there is much to consider and as I focus on leading with focused intent, I am considering the balance between further iterating that which has worked and re-developing a new intent and workflow all together.
My intent then is to focus less on the content and more on the mechanics of my workflow – thinking about and reconsidering the framework in which I am operating within to optimize my opportunities and improve the outcomes of my connections and collaborations.
Along this thinking, after recently reading 99u‘s text “Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind“, I am left with some key areas to focus on as the School Year begins:
DEVELOPING A MORNING ROUTINE:
- Focused Tasks
Much of the reading I have encountered in this area focuses on the ability to lend focus and connection to work and tasks first thing in the morning, as a time to invest in creative projects, rather than “reactive work” (like responding to emails and other messages).
- Silent Reading
I rarely read for pleasure, professional content or otherwise, unless on vacation away from the county – and when I say reading, I mean reading a paper-based book. I tend to read lots of content, as many of us do, using my mobile devices – yet, the time I spend with a book is that which I cherish to focus thoughts on integrating what I am taking in to impact some element of my life. Focusing on reading in the morning, for 20 minutes or more, will not only let me finish the book I am currently working on, but will also lend itself to kickstarting my thinking for the day.
- Iterative Goal Setting & Action Items
After reading Scott Belsky’s “Making Ideas Happen”, I learned about the “Action Method” workflow – a concept that allows one to take steps to ensure tasks are documented, processed and acted on in a direct and meaningful way. Through this approach, I utilize the Wunderlist App daily to organize my Action Items to reach all of my digital devices – though this is a great approach, I believe shifting this towards model where I am able to review my Action Items at the top of my day will allow me to focus my energy on not only accomplishing a specific task, but also the time to map out how my tasks for the day relate and connect to a broader goal, an overarching task I am looking to accomplish or achieve. This focused time for review could allow for shifts to be made along my daily, weekly and monthly priorities, leading to iterations in my Action Items and broader approach to the method to emerge indeed.
ESTABLISHING WORKFLOW PROTOCOLS:
- Time Blocking
A practice I have taken on before, “Time Blocking” allows one the power to take charge of their time in a very direct and impactful way. Typically, I splice my Calendar (through Apple’s Calendar App across my devices) for times which I note as specified “WORK PERIODS” – these times are typically 3 hour increments laced with breaks every 30 minutes (or so). I have always attempted to treat these times with the dedication I would a meeting, work commitment or scheduled event, yet I would like to move forward practicing discipline to accomplish the Action Items I had set out for that scheduled time, rather than sometimes leafing through other tasks and content.
- Off The Grid
As I sit and write this, my iPhone is a reach away – notifications have beeped and buzzed, and I’m attempting to shift focus from what is calling for my attention to that which I am attending to as I write. I have read that the temptation and impulse to check email, Tweets, messages and the like obviously shift our focus away from what is at hand – inline with Time Blocking, I will be working to shut-off and disconnect those elements of technology, and other distractions, when I have vowed to connect on a specific task at a specific time. In my mind, this focusing strategy is much about directing thoughts where they need to be at a certain time as it is about giving oneself a break from the ongoing temptations technology.
OPENING & DOCUMENTING CREATIVE SPACE:
- Allowing For Creativity
Most often, the needs and parameters of work-related tasks interject with possible opportunities for creative work and endeavours. As a Fine Arts Undergraduate, I have spent much time allowing creative thought and focus to guide my actions and projects. Yet, as I encounter projects and work in my professional life, this type of creative thought is most often limited to the demands of the outcome in place. Moving forward, I will be focusing on establishing time to connect on new creative endeavours (through drawing, open writing and other passions) while working to embed such an approach within my professional work. This will allow me to explore new ideas, test new tools and products, those elements I may infuse into other elements of my life if I had time devoted to their exploration. I am reminded of Passion Projects and Google’s 20% Time as versions of this thinking in action.
- Curating & Sharing Creative Content
I have had this webspace for some time now: originating as a classroom website developed for my past Students, morphing into a focus of my Master’s Research and Thesis (MRP). In recent time, it has been a space in limbo as I consider its use and impact on my personal life and professional practice. I have spent some time this Summer refining key elements of its look and flow so that I may make meaningful use of a long time project. With this, I will be mobilizing Classpace as my web environment for curating my thoughts, ideas and approaches to my work in the Education sector and more, but also as a space to share content I have created in an effort to develop a fluid and ongoing Digital Portfolio. It’s taken some time, but my focus is in check.