Our recent member survey was very clear: instructional leaders are stressed and overwhelmed.
Countless issues create stress and long hours. It's the nature of the job.
But when nature is harsh, what do we do? We adapt.
If you want to go hiking in the snow, you don't wear flip-flops and shorts. You equip yourself to handle the reality you'll face. You get your snow pants and hiking boots on, and you hit the trail with confidence.
Can we adapt to something as complex and human as school leadership? I believe we can—even if every day is unique, the issues we face fall into certain patterns.
When you know what to expect, you can develop a system to handle it. Reliably. Consistently. And with less stress.
A workflow is basically a set of decisions made in advance, specifying the outcome and the process by which that outcome is achieved.
Deciding is often the hardest part—if it weren't for the decision-making aspect, other people could do most of your tasks for you, right?
Here's what we need to decide:
- Strategy—what should the outcome be?
- Tools—how will we manage the process?
- Habits—when and how will we carry out the work?
That's the High Performance Triangle—strategy makes us effective, tools make us efficient, and habits make us consistent.
Think about any “traffic jam” you're facing right now. Chances are the problem is that one of these three factors is the culprit. If you want to reduce your stress and become more effective in your work as an instructional leader, work on your workflows.
An Example: Your Inbox
You probably get dozens or hundreds of emails a day. Do you keep up? Do you get to “inbox zero” every day?
I do, but it's only possible because I have a workflow:
- Strategy—email is for communication, so nothing “lives” there.
- Tools—tasks go to my task app; appointments go to my calendar; info for future reference gets archived or forwarded to Evernote
- Habits—inbox zero once a day; keep email closed when not actively processing it.
Think about one of your “traffic jams” and ask yourself:
- What's the outcome this work is supposed to achieve?
- Do I need to put certain tools in place?
- What habits will I need to develop to get it under control permanently?