4 Time Management Tips for Principals

Become an efficient school leader with these time-saving resources.

June 2017, Volume 40, Issue 10

It should come as no surprise to veteran principals that although leading a school is rewarding, it can also be extremely stressful. In the latest Rise and Shine survey administered to the National Panel of New Principals, 84 percent of new principals say they’ve had a high-stress school year.

So what’s causing all of that pressure? School politics? Dealing with parents? According to the survey, 59 percent of new principals identify time management as the most challenging aspect of their jobs. Between instructional leadership, family engagement, and building management, principals are routinely squeezed for time.

Fortunately there are ways principals make the most of their time. Here are four tips from the Principal magazine archives that can help you lead your school more efficiently and effectively.

1. Handle paperwork only once

Make it a priority to handle paper only one time. Complete the task immediately, file it, or delegate the task to another person on your team. Don’t allow papers to stack up thinking you will deal with them later. Only more will come and the amount of paperwork can become overwhelm­ing! As for emails, set specific times throughout the day to read and deal with them. Coming in a few minutes early to read emails allows you to begin the day with items already off your plate. Handle emails as you do paperwork: answer, file, or delegate. Don’t put off dealing with the email to another time—only more will come!

—“Beat the Clock,” Principal, March/April 2013

2. Upgrade your email

Google’s Inbox and Polymail are two options that boast a “boomerang” or “send later” feature. These options allow you to reply to all of your emails, send new ones, and clear out your inbox at any time of day or night, but emails won’t arrive in recipients’ inboxes until the time you choose. If you wonder why this is a productivity saver, think of the last time you sent an email just before bedtime that turned into a conversation, or a staff member worried that you expected a reply to an email sent at 10:30 p.m.

—“Making Email Work for You,” Principal, January/February 2017


3. Cluster teacher observations

Doing three or four observations in one day helps me to see a variety of lessons across the grade levels. This dedicated “day” ensures that I am out in the building enjoying learning with students and teachers. I devote time with teachers during their planning block that immediately follows the classroom observation. This approach provides immediate feedback and ensures a timely process.

—“Time Saving Teacher Evaluation Solutions,” Principal, January/February 2014

4. Implement efficient school change

Begin your own process for maximizing focused, effective effort in your school or district. It has to begin with an honest search to determine priorities on the basis of the best available evidence. These must be more than “research-based.” If we value time and logic, we owe it to students to seek out and implement only that which the evidence points to as the most effective actions and initiatives we can find. These critical determinations must be followed by a campaign of highly focused, unabashed repetition; review; and practice. Mastery and consistent implementation—not mere exposure or training—must become our new goal.

—“The Power of Focus,” Principal, March/April 2017

Want more insights? If you’re in the first two years of the principalship, you’re eligible to join the National Panel for New Principals. Panelists receive the monthly Rise & Shine brief and rewards for participating. Sign up at www.newprincipal.org.

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