A few years ago, my headteacher schedule was crammed to bursting with things I needed to do and meetings with people I had to speak with. Of course, being in a school setting, the frequent need to fire-fight issues meant the schedule was always off-course. The meetings would need to be rescheduled and shoe-horned into tiny spaces between all the other meetings; jobs would need to rollover.
The inevitable always happened. Time would run out. They would be no more space to shoehorn anything in – and this is where “holidays” became vital. A chance to catch-up: no, not sleep, rest and recover – work, work, and work. A race against the clock to get on top of workload before the new term started.
My schedule has very little in it now. This is not because I don’t work as hard as a life, leadership and career coach; it is because I am able to work differently.
The only fixed things in my schedule are DNAs. These are blocked out periods of time every week where I protect with “Do No Action” work-free zones.
It has profound impact.
Not only do I get to do the things that matter most outside of work – nursery collection, daddy adventures, bedtime stories with my son, downtime to ski on a Tuesday afternoon – it also facilitates quality of work and productivity during the non-DNA times. I get more accomplished by ensuring I do less time.
For employers who have initiated a 4-day working week, they have seen productivity and motivation of their workforce increase.
Which brings me back to schools….
I am not suggesting we try to implement a 4-day week in the education system as the knock-on impact on other industries would be significant. We know that school systems are not purely for educational purposes – schools facilitate a childcare service which enables parents to work.
But the question of workload has been circulating for at least 20 years. If we want greater productivity and impact, teachers and school leaders must be provided with the opportunity to have DNAs. And to achieve this, the expectations must change beyond a system that began in 1870 and simply gets added to every term.
Do you want a new system in your life or career?