Essex Town

Essex Town

Friday, September 9, 2016

Set Out Runnin' But I Take My Time

Although school ended on June 10th last year, the work toward a successful merger barely slowed down. Busy at the helm were school board members and school leaders from both Essex Town and Chittenden Central, who are staying focused on a multitude of tasks that are considered mission critical, or practically speaking, need to be completed before July 1, 2017.

That said, the different task teams responsible for leading the way have kept one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the brake for the last 7 months recognizing that final decisions must be well-informed through a collaborative process and focused on what’s best for students and our three communities.

Multi-tasking is great skill-set to have in the kitchen when you’re trying to time the  flounder sizzling under the broiler to be ready at the same time as the Swiss chard steaming in the pot and the quinoa that you just put the lid on. But what I’ve experienced in my career as a school leader is to never assume it’s a great way to manage a workday or a multifaceted project.

Have you ever heard people comment about what great multi-taskers they are? You might even have heard the stereotype that members of millennial generation are natural multi-taskers, having lived their whole lives constantly switching their attention from texting to Facebooking, to downloading, to watching TV— all supposedly without missing a beat. Those people are out there, regardless of when they were born, and I’m so impressed when the 15 things they’re working on all come to fruition perfectly. Personally I think they’re super human more than they are super multitaskers!

Learning how to multitask has become a favorite marketing tool among companies who want to get as much output from their employees as possible. Workshops, webinars and books are readily available on the subject- implying in many cases that asking someone to focus on a single task through to completion has now become passé.

We do have a reality with the merger work ahead of us, much work has to be completed, and I would argue that the scarcity of time is a good reason  to concentrate on one thing at a time. And you’ve heard the adage, so pay heed, “when I’m interrupted while performing just one task it takes 50% more time to complete it and I make 50% more errors!”

We have become a generation that is capable of doing many things at once- no doubt. The 15 + things we are attempting to accomplish over the next 10 months all need to be completed through a collaborative and thoughtful process that includes the voices of many people. We can’t be satisfied with batting 500. We have to keep the big picture in mind while shepherding specific tasks to completion before cluttering our plates with tasks that can remain on the back-burner for the time being.

And maybe, if we remain focused and strategic, running fast but going slow, we’ll even enjoy this amazing journey ahead!


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