I don’t know about you, but as I went through school and university I was a crammer. I would always wait until the night before an assessment or exam and do all the work the night before. While we all know this doesn’t create long-term memory, it works if all you want is to pass an exam or assessment task.
I have since noticed a very similar aspect to much of life. If there is a deadline, we tend to prioritise the work and ensure that it is done in time. It could be the deadline for reports, without which we may never get around to writing them. Or maybe it is a flight you need to catch. You ensure you are packed and ready to go to the airport in time for the flight. Well, it turns out that others have noticed this too and given it a name. Having the deadline ensures you do what is required by that time.
Parkinson’s Law states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
We can use this law to increase our effectiveness. We do this by choosing to do one task at a time, and ensuring it is done by a deadline. This is why goals need a deadline. It helps to ensure we prioritise the task because the deadline makes the task urgent and important.
We can leverage this law to make sure we are moving towards our goals as teachers. The goals we set are often not urgent and so we rarely prioritise them. However, by setting the deadline we can make them urgent. If you want to take it a bit further, you can even set yourself up with a reward for achieving the goal by the deadline and a punishment if you do not.
We need to be smart with this. If we set the deadline for 6-months away but know we can get it done a few days before, we will not do anything until a few days before. Just like our students who are given tasks 8 weeks before they are due only to do it all the night before. We need to make sure our deadlines are close, maybe even a little closer than we think possible. This helps us to prioritise the work and get it done. I recommend a maximum time of 11 weeks, the maximum length of a term of school here in NSW Australia.
You may also want to set up a review process for the end of the term. This could work as your deadline for achieving certain subgoals as you build towards a larger goal. In fact, if your goal is going to take you longer than 10 weeks it should have subgoals you can achieve and celebrate on your way towards the larger goal.
In a review process are the current items:
- Check in and review your goals and mission statement. Have you achieved any of your subgoals? Are you choosing to take actions that align with your mission statement? If not, why not and what can you do to get this back on track?
- Set new goals or adjust your previous goals ready to be reviewed at the end of next term.
- Review your lessons, units of works and general teaching processes and make any necessary updates. Include updating your class profile or notes on your students. Check and see if you have achieved any goals that relate specifically to your teaching