I’ve piddled around and only completed bits and pieces to meet my September goals for the School Year Challenge. Why haven’t I been more productive?
In my post “September is Here…Month One!” I identified the following as my projects to complete during the first month of The Challenge:
- Line and hang curtains
- Refurbish Douglas’ nightstand
- Hang the print that I purchased years ago
- Bonus: paint the dresser
In the same post I also wrote about using The Chalkboard Method as a process to commit to my goals by making them visible. At the time I typed that post, my thought was to write the goals and tasks on a whiteboard in my home office.
Shortly after typing that post, I realized I don’t go into the office everyday so the goals and tasks wouldn’t be frequent visible motivators.
As an alternative, I used note cards and wrote out the project goals and tasks. Then I organized them on an empty wall in the master bedroom were I would see them every day as soon as I woke up and any time I went into my bedroom.
In addition to using The Chalkboard Method, my intent was to get the tasks on a calendar so I had some type of additional accountability for myself. I didn’t do this.
Instead, all I put together was a rough calendar sketched on a legal pad. School and personal commitments were penciled in and then I circled in orange the days I would have to work on tasks to complete the projects.
The critical step I omitted was to write down what tasks I would complete on what days.
This has come back to bite me in the sense that while I have piddled around and completed some of the tasks needed to complete the project goals, nothing has been finished yet. In addition, there have been several opportunities since September 4 that I could have been making progress but didn’t.
Reflecting back on the past 2 weeks, I know another factor that led to piddling instead of focused work is that I am just tired.
I always forget how exhausting teaching is when a new school year starts. What compounds this is I haven’t transitioned completely to my school year sleeping habits.
I learned several years ago that I need 8-10 hours of sleep. If I don’t get enough sleep, my energy is severely drained by early evening, my productivity goes down, and my irritability button becomes activated. Everything takes longer to do in the evening because I don’t want to do anything. I end up going to bed later than I want so necessary chores can be completed and the cycle starts over.
Two things I’ve learned from what has/has not transpired in the past two weeks:
First, I am most effective when I write on the calendar what I’m going to do and when I’m going to do it.
By just thinking about when to do each task and not writing a commitment on a home project calendar, I realize I am getting very similar results to what happens in the classroom if I only think about what I’m going to teach and don’t write down lesson plans.
In both situations tasks get done/content is taught but not necessarily in the best, most efficient way.
Right now, I need to be more efficient if I want to complete the projects I picked for the master bedroom.
For the remaining days in September, I have written down what I am going to do and when I’m going to do it. There are a couple of days left at the end of the month, so I do have a little flexibility if things don’t get done on the day I’ve planned.
Second, I need to get enough sleep. During the summer, my husband and I fell into the habit of eating dinner around 8:00pm and staying up late binge watching TV shows. This habit has continued even though school hours started in late August for me.
He only needs 5-6 hours of sleep so staying up isn’t an issue for him. In the summer it isn’t an issue for me either because I can sleep until I wake up naturally.
Trying to keep these same habits once school starts doesn’t work because I need to be at school by 7:20am. I know I have to be up by 6:20am in order to get ready and pull in the school parking lot on time. So by going to bed at midnight, I’m only getting 6 hours of sleep…not the 8-10 that my body needs.
I talked this over with my husband and we agreed to make some changes in our evening routine. We are going to eat dinner earlier, limit our TV watching to one show a night, and make sure I’ccomplish* the project task(s) that are on my School Year Challenge calendar. By making these changes, the goal would be for me to be in bed no later than 10:00pm so I can get at least 8 hours of sleep.
My husband is very supportive and knows the challenges I face as a public school educator. He has seen me struggle with trying to balance work and home life throughout my entire career. He knows me very well, lets me work through challenges on my own, and helps me when I ask.
When I started the School Year Challenge, he knew there would be an adjustment period as I worked to figure out a process to get things done. He was right!
Putting tasks on a project calendar and getting enough sleep are the changes I need to make now in order to complete my project goals for September.
Read the previous post in the School Year Challenge.
Read the next post in the School Year Challenge.