As I make my way to my office everyday I think a lot about what’s waiting for me once step through the door. There are a few truths that hold up day after day.
My email inbox will not be in the same pristine and organized condition as it was when I left the office.
There is always something from the day before that is not finished to extent it deserves.
If I let it happen I could walk in my office and not step out until it was time to head home and still not have satisfied the demands of the day.
Before I ever touch the door handle I’ve been composing a triage list, prioritizing what needs my attention first and how much time I can allocate to each need. In fact as I walk into school I on occasion end up talking aloud to myself, voicing that list priorities and allocation of time.
“O.K. First I need to scan the bid for the attachment for the board agenda. After that I need to simplify the calendar rationales with some bullet points. By 9:30 I need to make the call to set up the demo of…”
I’m sure I don’t sound crazy at all.
Here’s the deal. It’s a trap.
Opening my office door, firing up the laptop, and moving towards crossing things off the to do list that I muttered aloud as I walked in, it’s all a trap. I could walk in my office and not step out until it was time to head home. It’s a trap and it’s happened to me. More than once I think I’ve been caught so deep in the trap I didn’t even make it out to eat or use the bathroom. That’s less than heathy on multiple levels.
What should I be doing? Getting to a different set of doors.
Not my office door but any door that my students and staff are using to get into the building.
For a long time I had three or four spots where I would post up every morning so I could greet people as they came in. This is an amazing way to start the day. The opportunity to see all those people as they roll in and share the “good mornings” and the high fives and the smiles. When I start the day like that it is equally good for our school and my own soul. We can start our day as team with ambition and validation. I am better at everything else I do when I start my day at those doors. But more and more often I found myself heading to my office door and succumbing to the trap.
Life has a way of giving you reminders of how things should be done after you’ve gotten in the habit of the contrary.
Last Friday we had one of our elementary Christmas programs. About a half an hour before the show I went to our activity entrance so I could hold the door and greet people as they came in. One gentleman held my hand shake a bit longer and said “Mr. Stecher it ain’t bad for December but it still a bit cold outside to be at this door. How come I always see you out here doing this?”
“Because if I do this I know I got at least one thing right today.”
Get at least one thing right. That’s a good reminder life allowed me to give myself.
When I start my day at those doors it keeps me out of the trap. It starts my day seeing the people that matter most. It guarantees I get at least one thing right. It puts me in a spot where I am talking to people instead of muttering to myself. I start my day getting one thing right.
It turns out that everytime I do so I find my office and all the things waiting for me in it are still there.
When I walk in after investing the time in our people and and in myself at the doors to my school I’m better at taking care everything else those people and my school needs.
You will be too.
You can read more of what Mark and Sam have to say in their book It Happens In The Hallway. Just click here.