Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Value of the Calendar

We all have different ways of organizing our time based on our styles, our positions and our values. When we hear ourselves complaining that we don’t have time for the important things, there is a tool already available to help us sort things out – our calendar.

Whether we like to admit it or not, that visible representation of time known as our calendar is in fact a reflection of many parts of our lives such as, position, leadership style, and values. We don’t usually think of a calendar as a tool for discernment, but it shows us how we spend that very ‘valuable’ and ‘value-ful’ commodity – time which in turn is a reflection of what is important to us.

Take my calendar for example. It will show that I value knowing what is happening in my division and that I value developing relationships with staff members. Both of those take time so I meet weekly with the staff who report to me, both individually and as a group. I meet monthly with an extended staff group and I try to find creative ways to meet regularly with groups of staff in every level of position in the organization. In my role finding opportunities to interact with students is important so I say yes to nearly every request from students. I try to say yes to any invitation to lead a workshop or to give a presentation since these are ways to interact with staff and students and to transmit values to the organization.

There are other values that show up on my calendar – a hold on my lunch time so I can take a break in the middle of the day and “time for projects” on Friday afternoon. These blocks reflect an understanding of the need for changes of pace and for time to engage in reflection and planning. But at certain times of the year, this time gets squeezed out by those other values. So, I spent time over the weekend on e-mails and paperwork which is something I try to avoid – another value. But that small amount of time helped me be ready for the coming week which will be as busy as the past few have been.

We know our values are important to our leadership actions. If we listen to them and act accordingly our values help us make decisions large and small. They help us evaluate when choices have to be made. And when we begin to feel that things are out of whack, the calendar is one tool to understanding the decisions we have made and make changes as necessary.

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