Small actions done consistently every day add up to big outcomes in the long term. A while ago I heard one of my favourite speakers, Robert Fergusson give a presentation titled ‘Mastering the Mundane.’ In his presentation Fergusson spoke convincingly about the importance of attaching significance to the small, seemingly insignificant, things that you do each day. His presentation got me thinking and it has stayed with me for many years. We often don’t see the compounding results, either positive or negative, of small decisions until much later in our lives.
Acts like brushing your teeth, daily exercise, kissing your spouse or being grateful may seem inconsequential but the truth is if you do these consistently they could have more significant outcomes than you can imagine.
Conversely, daily habits and actions that are unproductive can also have negative compounding results over the long haul. If you consistently work late, skip breakfast or neglecting time with your family you may find yourself heading down a road that you did not expect. When I was a student I never serviced my car. I was living out of home, had very little money and I just didn’t really see the point. I would drive my car all over the place, fill it up with the cheapest fuel possible, never change (let alone check) the oil and rarely check the tyres. I just assumed that it would keep going indefinitely. Of course it didn’t. The money that I had ‘saved’ from not servicing the car was quickly surpassed by the price of a new engine. Lesson learned. Small decisions like regularly servicing your car can save you lots later on.
If your health, life and career could be dramatically improved by the ‘small things’ that you decide to do or not do every day what would you do differently? What small things would you change today?
Here are a few small thing that, if done regularly, could have a huge impact on your teaching career:
It is so easy to neglect the small things that we (should) do each day. Amidst the busyness and chaos of the start of the school year these things can be easily forgotten. But these small things build up, so decide to build a reservoir of small decisions and do you best to minimise the poorer options.
What other actions would you add?
Today I thought that I would share some ideas that will just make your teaching life easier. It’s not rocket science, nor do you need a master’s degree to implement them. They are just common sense ways that will make your day run smoothly.
Use your own mug. One casual teaching day I grabbed a mug from the staffroom and sat down to have a cup of tea. I wondered why one of the teachers was scowling at me. Doris was watching someone else drink out of the ‘Doris Mugs.’
Pay for your tea and coffee. If you use the tea, milk or coffee it’s a privilege. Make sure that you put money in to cover your cuppa.
Take notes in meetings. It’s important to take notes for two reasons: it helps you remember what has been said, and it makes your look like you are paying attention.
Be courteous with staff members. Just be nice. Say please, say thank you and show a smile. It doesn’t cost anything.
Thank people specifically. When your praise people, be specific. ‘I really appreciated the way that your spoke to Jane’s parents about the issue in class. Thank you’ is far more effective than ‘Good job with the assemble.’
Check your emails regularly. I check my emails each day at 8am and at 3:30PM when I finish. It’s just good practice to reply to emails and stay on top of your inbox.
Look at the duty roster. I am guilty of forgetting my duties. Each day, remind yourself of when and when your duties are.
If you jam the photocopier then fix it. It’s just bad manners. If your jam the copier, just fix it.
Say hi to the office staff. The office staff are the backbone of the school. Things that seem to just happen, don’t. Be appreciative.
Plan your day before it starts. I write down everything that I need to do for that day. I keep a detailed daybook and I write down my to-do lists. If it is in your head it will distract you from teaching.
What can think of that will just make your day easier?