This week Noah Weiss published a provocative blog on Medium.com about Google’s management of time. Essentially, he suggests that professionals manage their time with a 70/20/10 method: 70% of time is dedicated to the now and the imminent days ahead; 20% of time is dedicated to this quarter; and 10% to the future beyond that. Weiss suggests that we spend “30% of our time in the future.”
Sure, there are instances where this time is “lumped” up, Weiss suggests. He gives the example of a week where you have your future goals or roadmap due. However, Weiss warns to avoid these “spurts” because great ideas need time to marinate and develop.
And from what I’ve read and know about creativity, I agree. When I plan units for teaching, or even just methodology for next year, I can’t simply sit down on the day after the last day of school and write down all the amazing ideas I’ve had for the next year. I have to write them down as they happen. I evaluate constantly, revising in my mind how I would change or do lessons differently. Bits and pieces come gradually, not full-fledged units landing in my brain all at once, tied up neatly with a bow.
Yet that 30% remains in my mind. Can–and should–teachers spend 30% of our time in “the future”?
During the school year, it’s impossible. Over 70% of our day is spent with students in the classroom, and we most decidedly need to spend that time “in the moment.” Giving feedback and grading papers are activities I’d also classify as “now or the near future,” so there goes even more of that blessed “30%.” If you coach or sponsor activities, well, there goes some more precious time.
That doesn’t mean that Weiss’s theories are completely off-base for teachers. Unfortunately, we have to do some “lumping” of “working on the now” some weeks. During the summer, I certainly spend nearly 100% rather than 30% “in the future.”
But we should strive for more balance. More “daydreaming” about the future. I need to do better at forefront planning, so that I can spend less time with the “immediate needs” and think more about improvement of my teaching.
What does this 30% look like for me? Listening to podcasts such as Bam Radio. Watching webinars at edweb.net. Reading professional books from Heinemann, Stenhouse, ASCD. Tweeting and exploring others’ tweets about blogs, new apps, new theories, and just enjoying professional fellowship on Twitter. Working on my multimedia grad class.
During the school year, it’s nearly impossible to spend 30% in the future. Would it be ideal? I’d say so. But I don’t look for that to be a reality in my teaching career. I’ll have to spend most of my school year “living in the present” at least 90% of the time. If I spend 10% of my time thinking about the future, I’ll be doing well.
Perhaps that’s the way it should be. My future students are important, but the students that I have right now–they deserve every minute that I can give them.