Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Taking organizing and planning lessons from Ben Franklin - great tips for educators too

I recently saw Ben Franklin’s daily schedule and planner on Larry Ferlazzo’s website (which is an awesome resource for educators). I was a long time user of Franklin Quest (now Franklin Covey) paper planners and used their planning software and methods on my first PDA and had heard that they had gotten some of their ideas for planning from Ben Franklin, but had never seen Ben’s planner. It was very cool seeing it.

Ben Franklin was a prolific inventor and scientist and believed in being organized and on task. Many of his quotes and ideas are still in use today.

Video that explains this as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBi8M3DehQ0 

If you look at Ben’s schedule, you’ll see that he has two questions he asks himself and then some things he does every day. He asks himself “What good shall I do this day?” and then “What good have I done today?”. These are great questions to ask oneself when planning your day and then reflecting on your day, especially as an educator. Review your lesson plans for the day and get prepared. At the end of the day, review how the lessons went. Was there anything that should be changed or addressed next time? I also like how he has standard things he does everyday, like “taking the resolution of the day” and “prosecute the present study”. I take these as looking at what my goals are for the day and getting ready to do them. At the end of the day, he puts things away, relaxes, and reflects on his day.

This is something we all should do every day. Get up and get ready for the day. Think about what are tasks and goals are for the day, prepare ourselves for these goals, and then go and attain them. At the end of the day, we need to make sure everything is in it’s place, relax and reflect on the day. Putting everything away each night (or at end of school day) helps us to stay organized and on task. We need to relax and refresh our brain with music, entertainment and conversation. And then we need to reflect on our day. How did it go? Did I accomplish everything I wanted to? Is there anything I should change or do better?

Today’s apps allow us to stay more organized - calendars, to-do lists, notes, and more. We can have these apps email or text us with reminders so we don’t forget. We carry our smartphones with us everywhere, so we always have access to our data and apps. Heck, there are even apps that can use the GPS chip in your phone to remind you of a task or appointment if you go anywhere near that location (including your shopping list).

There are hundreds of paper planners, software and apps, and systems out there to help you get organized and plan your day. But, you are the main ingredient in the planning and execution of your plan.

Here are some tips and resources for planning and organizing your day:

Basic ideas from Franklin Quest:

1. Connect to Mission - what is your mission today, this week, in life?

2. Review roles - teacher, spouse, parent

3. Identify goals - daily, weekly, monthly, year

4. Organize weekly - and plan daily

5. Exercise integrity - integrity and values matter

6. Evaluate - your tasks, goals, values, and progress

Use some kind of planner - purchased or made yourself, paper or electronic, to keep organized and on schedule.

Have a daily task list, prioritized. Work on high priority 1st.

Have a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule with appointments and obligations.

Keep a daily record of events - commitments exchanged, journal entry, thoughts and ideas, agendas, conversations, notes, tasks, etc.

Related Articles and Resources:

Getting Students and Teachers Organized - tips and resources
Great tips, ideas, resources, links (including to paper and electronic planners)

Evernote - get organized - free and on all platforms

Thoughtboxes - organize everything you do - great resource for education

Wunderlist - free and easy to use task manager

Toodledo - An easy to use, free, powerful, online to-do list.



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