Overcoming the obstacle of time.

Time is, of course, a very big issue.

Do you know the novel Brave New World? The protagonist, the “Savage” goes through this mock crucifixion and slumps to the earth, unconscious, and Aldous Huxley writes, “He had discovered Time and Death and God.”

That is exactly where time belongs, right? On a list with Death and God. In a list of things that are beyond human control and possibly beyond human comprehension.

But time is the currency of our days, of our life. So how do we handle this when it’s unreachable, unmanageable as it seems?

Stephen Covey offers one in the "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," which imagines time in four quadrants:

For the purpose of this discussion, accept that the things you do are either Important or Not Important (and not shades in between) and Urgent or Not Urgent.

Which quadrant do you live in? Probably Quadrant I where it feels like everything is important and urgent (or perhaps not just urgent, but late too!). There are so many demands on our time. This is the burnout quadrant.

When you’re not in Quadrant I, modern life tends to put us in Quandrant III, where it may not be important to you, but it’s urgent to someone else! And exacerbating this is the issue of always being accessible through our Blackberries and cell phones and laptops, which make us available for business that can wait.

When so much is demanded of us, and we’ve burned out in Quadrant I and Quadrant III demands, we retreat to Quadrant IV, where we take ourselves out completely. This is where you find yourself sprawled out on the couch with a television remote, a bag of chips, and the beverage of your choice!

Now, think about your personal life; think about what you could do more often, more consistently, that would really enhance your personal life, and your whole life, if only you had more time? What comes to mind? Travel, yoga, sleep, exercise, reading for pleasure, staying in touch with old friends and family. All of these things fall into which quadrant?

That’s right. Quadrant II. They are important. But why don’t you do these things? You say it’s because you don’t have enough time, but Covey says that’s not the issue. Look, you know you have time for QIII stuff, and that’s for stuff that’s not even important to you – it’s only urgent to someone else!

The problem is that the things you’d most like to do aren’t URGENT.

I used to say to my English students, “Let’s go visit Henry in QII.” Do you know which Henry I’m talking about? Thoreau.

to David talk about how Henry David Thoreau personifies QII.

But take heart because we all know people who exercise and read for pleasure. So how do they make time for QII activities? They schedule it. They make it urgent by scheduling it.

But what does this all have to do with assessment? Assessment is a QII activity. The rubric writing, the goal setting - why don’t we do more of it? Because it’s not urgent. How do you make time for assessment (or exercising or reading or traveling)? You schedule it.

So, your priority is to identify and protect time for QII activity - like going on a retreat. Retreats often happen, however, when an organization is in crisis or in transition, and every time you come back from a retreat you say, “Wow, that was really great. We were talking about important things.” And then you fall back into your old routine.

How do you create that retreat-like state of mind in your normal work day and week? You have to protect the time; it doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time. QII is quality time. At Dodge, we set aside QII time in our weekly staff meetings.

Need more specific examples for what we mean by QII time?

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How To Navigate This Workshop

You may choose to go through this workshop in a linear, page by page fashion, by clicking on the "Next" and "Previous" buttons at the bottom of each step.

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If you are familiar with this workshop, and you are looking to refresh your memory, we think the following steps about the Rubric, which is the tool at the heart of this workshop, might be most useful to you: