I’m not a sports person. I like to tailgate and go to games, but I enjoy the spirit, camaraderie, and social parts of sporting events more than I really care about the outcome of the game itself. As I learn about leadership, however, I find so which wisdom from coaches. The more I look, the more I find that the most successful coaches have lessons applicable across settings.
Alabama coach, Nick Saban is no exception. His words about systems really resonated with me this week as I have reflected on my first semester.
“When you have a system, you kind of get in a routine of what’s important. And then you spend a lot more time on thinking of things that would make it better. Like we met on this camp today. The first year I was here we met for eight hours on how we were going to do the camp. Now everybody else in that room knows how I want the camp run, so we don’t need to spend eight hours on it.” Nick Saban
At the beginning of the year, I spent a lot of time learning the systems that were already in place at my school and how they fit into my philosophies of school management and instructional leadership. Then I began tweaking existing systems to meet my style, and putting new ones in place where I felt ones were needed. This has been a significant investment of time and thought. As it was happening, I didn’t even realize that this is what I was doing. I just kept saying, “everything takes me so much longer than it should because I am having to figure out how to do it and how it should be done as I do it.”
Saban’s words gave me some hope for next year. I do feel like now that I’ve gotten some processes established, I can improve them in the future instead of reinventing the wheel. Not only have I had to establish my school-wide systems, but I’ve also had to create my personal systems for organization. I learned this summer in a productivity workshop that your mind is for creating ideas, not keeping them. I have found that I need something to capture my ideas, todos, thoughts, and general notes and then a tool to organize and prioritize them.
I use one notebook as a “brain dump.” As ideas come to me I get them out into this notebook. I also have a separate notebook where I jot down notes as events happen that day–who I have contacted, situations I have dealt with, and phone calls I have made.
Then I have a small A6-sized binder with sections for:
1. Professional Reading–where I take notes on what I am reading
2. Daily Priorities–I write down my mission and vision every day, 3 priorities and wins/lessons learned at the end of the day
3. Lists–I write ideas for summer projects, the weekly email, blog topics
4. Gratitude–This is where I write down 3 things I am grateful for each morning
5. Prayer List–Here I keep a list of people to pray for
6. Prayer Journal–After I do my devotional reading each day, I journal a little bit.
Developing my personal system was a form of stress relief and a way to express my creativity in how I set up the pages. I am not sure Nick Saban was thinking about a cute binder with stickers and markers when he said, “When you have a system, you kind of get in a routine of what’s important,” but it totally makes sense to me. No matter what chaos ensues in the day to day excitement of school leadership, I have a system that supports my routines and helps me focus on what’s important.