As an early childhood educator, our days are filled with many responsibilities and demands on our time. With many activities vying for our attention how do we choose what to work on first? Looking into the topic of selecting priorities I examined books on business and books designed specifically for educators to grasp how other professionals prioritize their day. Continuing my examination I considered practices that professionals employ to achieve goals to see if any nuggets of wisdom came to the forefront. If you are looking to improve priority setting, here are the top suggestions from my investigation.
Organize Your Day - Having a plan for the flow of your day is the most effective way to prioritize. Taking some time at the end of your workday to create a framework for the following day sets the course for success. An added bonus is that having a framework will get you past the inevitable bumps along the way.
Attend to Interruptions - During the course of each day there will be changes in the plan you created the day before. This is the nature of our work with children and trying to fight this occurrence to keep on task creates a distraction that makes your current focus ineffective. So attend to the challenge and then resume the activity you were engaged in.
Lists are your Friend - Instead of trying to remember all of the tasks in your life as an educator, create lists so you are not using your brainpower as a memory tool. Keep task lists for the different aspects of your work as an educator. When the time arrives to work on that aspect of the job, look over your list and choose what to prioritize in the moment.
Work on Tasks Consistently – Often when we are busy, work piles up and we end up with a mountain of paperwork, pictures, or documentation to attend to. A better alternative is making a daily or bi-weekly appointment for your priorities outside of class and work in small batches.
Is Your Priority Attainable? – Because of the circumstances of the day some of our plans for the work we would like to get done are changed because of our role in the classroom. If the priority you planned on attending to is not attainable instead of trying to squeeze it in, let it go until the next day. This has been proven to be more effective than rushing through a task just to get it done.
Am I Making a Mindful Choice? – Often because of the fast pace nature of the early childhood environment we make choices that are hurried and may not be in line with our priorities. Our mindset is important when making decisions and some decisions are better left to another time when we can be present the moment.
Leave Time for Self-Care – No matter how many priorities we have on our personal to do list, taking time for self-care is an important part of being an educator. We will never be able to accomplish everything and we are more effective in our working moments when we take care to nurture our mind and body for the next day.
I am hoping these suggestions find you and help you in your effort to make priorities in field that is demanding on it’s people. Finally, there will be days when all around you is going not as expected and what to do next can be come very confusing. When in doubt, always choose the children.
If you have any suggestions how you choose priorities for your daily practice please share, I would love to learn more about this subject from your experience.