Tag Archives: time management

Some thoughts on mindfulness

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If you haven’t encountered the concept, mindfulness is essentially a set of thought-techniques and attitudes which can, through practise and application, help the practitioner develop a sense of calm focus.

In many ways, it sits at the opposite end of the thought spectrum to multi-tasking. It’s all about finding a way to shut out the chatter of competing demands and applying yourself fully and wholeheartedly to the task at hand, physically and mentally. It recognises that even when physical distractions, say kids, are absent, our minds can themselves be hugely distracting.

Many time management philosophies encourage prioritisation based on hierarchies of perceived importance and urgency. This is all well and good, but it often means that a huge backlog of low urgency stuff accumulates. This can be stressful. Alternatively, it can lead to a situation where conflicts arise between big important things (lesson-planning, marking) and mundane but necessary stuff (ironing shirts, washing up and feeding your kids).

Applying a mindfulness based approach to the same competing demands can be a revelation. Using the example above, the mindful individual will be focussed entirely on washing the dishes or on feeding the kids, and mentally being in that moment. They will not be feeding the kids whilst silently mulling over what to teach tomorrow. As they wash the dishes, they will be thinking of nothing deeper than the act of washing the dishes.

In doing so, the mundane can become less onerous, even enjoyable, your mind gets a break and when you shift your mindful attention to those big, important tasks, it will be without the baggage of having spent dinner time fretting about things that you were not in a position to do anything about. A clear mind can work wonders.

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The road to hell

No, that’s not intended to betray any kind of supressed love for the music of Chris Rea.

A little arithmetic to begin:

2×2=4
4×5=20
20×39=780
780/60=13

That 13 is a number of hours, by the way. Think of it another way. That’s 13 literacy or numeracy lessons, or somewhere a little shy of 3 full school days. This is a little estimate of the annual time expenditure on writing out lesson objectives in exercise books, assuming it to be done twice a day.

Of course, writing down the learning objective, along with some little checkboxes to colour in/draw smiley face, takes many pupils more than the slightly conservative 2 minutes that I have allowed in my calculation. That 13 hours could so easily be 19.5 or even 26 with younger primary pupils. Imagine that. 26 hours spent on… not an awful lot.

I’m not opposed to sharing learning objectives per se, nor with sharing them with children: but laboriously recording them, along with AfL boxes, on each and every piece of work done in literacy and maths represents time that could be better spent. The teacher or teaching assistant spending time printing then sticking them into books on students’ behalves is no better a use of time.