A Meeting with Myself

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Julie Nariman - front of her spotless desk

Me in front of my spotless desk on Monday morning.

 

I was recently talking to another principal who who spoke about not being able to “shut off” his mind about school, staying late at work, and catching up with more work on the weekends.

I could relate.  In fact, I used to think that constantly thinking about work was a hallmark of being responsible.  Handling odds and ends of work at all times seemed to be the only option.
I began to handle the “over-thinking” part through transformational workshops and leadership coaching.

However, I’d still leave on Fridays vaguely feeling there were still some odds and ends to attend to, but not sure what.  Then, I’d suddenly think of that follow-up email Sunday morning while I was making an omelette, and I’d quickly text myself a calendar reminder on my phone.  But I didn’t know how to end the week with those odds and ends being handled.

The Meeting with Myself

My assistant principal Shira turned me onto Maia Heyck-Merlin and The Together Group, and I discovered the Meeting with Myself.  I attended one of Maia’s super-fun, interactive workshops for school leaders and left with ways to handle the odds and ends of administration while keeping my eye on my priorities.

Maya has an array of tools and strategies to help leaders keep track of big priorities as well as little but important to-dos.  One of these tools is the Meeting with Myself, a weekly meeting with an agenda that involves me, myself, and my to-dos.  I schedule my Meeting with Myself from about 3:30 to 5:00 on Fridays, an ideal time to create a clean slate for Monday, and also a time when I know there will be no interruptions.

Here’s my agenda for my Meeting with Myself:

1. Handle every single piece of paper in my office. 
Over the course of the week, paper piles up.  On Friday, I handle every single one, which could mean:

  • Trashing it
  • Filing it
  • Following-up on it– I found a paper invitation to attend a workshop.  I RSVP’d during my Meeting with Myself, and it was handled– no need for the workshop organizer to send me a reminder email.
  • Giving paper to the right people– I found a sign-in sheet from an attendance meeting that I then gave to my attendance coordinator to file.

2. Review my To-Do list from the past week.  
The Friday before, I start a to-do list which then gets added-to as the week goes on.  The following Friday, I look at anything that’s not crossed-off and here’s what I do:

Julie Nariman - the weekly worksheet

The Weekly Worksheet, Maia’s hyper-organized to-do list.

  • Handle anything I didn’t handle that’s quick and easy
  • Calendar or schedule anything I can complete the next week
  • Create a new, fresh to-do list for the following week.

 

3. Answer any unanswered emails from the past week. 

  • Create and review my Google calendar for the next week, scheduling all meetings including my Meeting with Myself, inviting people to meetings, making sure my larger to-dos have blocks of time, and making sure nothing conflicts.
  • Write Thank You emails.  I keep track of thank-yous on my Weekly Worksheet. This is my favorite part– it ends my week with a sweet reminder to myself that I work with a highly-devoted group of people who regularly go above and beyond.
  • Clean my office.  I wipe off surfaces, fill up my water bottle and Keurig reservoir, and water the plants.
Julie Nariman - coffee maker and water Monday morning

Coffee maker and water ready to go for Monday.

My assistant principals Shira and Yan do their Meeting with Myself at the same time, so we often call each other to keep our priorities in-sync as we create our calendars for the next week.

 

Cleaning up Mind-Clutter

It’s amazing what this simple meeting does: even handling something as small as filling up my water bottle on Friday afternoon means that it’s one less thing to think about on Monday.  My mind gets uncluttered, and I leave feeling clear, accomplished, and ready to have a great weekend.

 

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