TM4T - Time Management Basics 6: Logs and Clocks

Very few teachers have the time or inclination to complete a full time-management log, but it is worth understanding the concept.

Typically, a week-log involves 14 x half-day logs (one just after lunch, one just before bed each day). A first-cut Monday morning log might look like this:

This is called a 'first-cut' log, as it represents a first stab at understanding where the time goes. Not too much thought needs to go into it. Just collect the information, then let it lie untouched for a while until you are in an analytical and objective frame of mind.  Then review it. There are no rules to this; depending on your circumstances, it might be very reasonable to spend 70 minutes travelling to school, or it might not. Each person will review their own logs and draw out different aspects which would benefit from more analysis. Then, produce another log, focussing in on area of interest. Looking at the Monday morning log above, you might thing that three hours pre-school (06:00 to 09:00) is a considerable asset which could be used profitably. If so, you'd produce a more detailed log like the one below - this is not prepared twice a day; it requires regular updating and a degree of accuracy:

...(and corresponding logs for the other five days). Again, each teacher's log and each teacher's opinion will differ. For example, you may think that 37 minutes is a reasonable amount of time to spend on the PC in the morning; if so, you wouldn't change that aspect of your life, especially if it ties in with your goals. Maybe 40 minutes is a reasonable length of time to wait for a bus, maybe not. It's your life.

You can, of course, apply more sophisticated analysis to the data provided by your logs. If this seems appealing, you may have a future in school leadership; for many teachers it is simply depressing, but here is an example of what you might learn. Here is an example (click to enlarge)...

This is an unusual example, as it neatly adds up to around 168 hours (ie 7 days x 24 hours). It is not unusual at all to carry out this exercise and end up wondering 'where do the other 40 hours go each week?'; or indeed 'how do I manage to do 180 hours of stuff in 168 hours?'.

Regardless, the objective is the same: to review the summary log and:
  • Identify 'dead' time (for example, if your log adds up to 140 hours, where does the other 28 hours go?)
  • identify wasteful activities to be reduced or eliminated
  • identify activities which contribute to objectives and longer goals and should be extended.
  • identify efficiencies, by rearranging the order or combination of activities.

There are some fairly obvious risks with this approach. If your longer term goal solely involves school leadership, you may be tempted to eliminate everything which does not contribute: exercise, visiting family and so on. This, of course, is foolish. A balanced life is what you need.

When you understand your logs, you obviously need to fix the things that need fixing. Read more here.