Monday, August 10, 2009

Doing a job vs. doing a job well

Almost thirty years ago I read How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life by Alan Lakein. A famous Alan Lakein quote is:

Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

His book changed my life. I started building lists. I kept track of my life via a little pocket calendar for several years before graduating to a Covey Planner.

Alan is a great proponent of building lists of tasks you want to do. Once you have created the list, you then go back and mark them with an A, or a B, or a C. The “A” tasks are those which are crucial and have to be done. The “B” tasks are those that are important and it would be good to do. The “C” tasks are those you would like to get to, but aren’t that important. The last step is going back and number the A, B and C tasks. The list becomes your marching orders for the day. (Though at times you have to be flexible and make changes.)

Building lists gives me guidance and focus to help me accomplish important tasks.


For the last three weeks I’ve been working with my daughters to organize their time. I’m trying to train them to step back now and then, to ponder what they want to do each day. Each morning we'll sit down and build the lists together. I give them a few tasks I want them to do, and ask them for ideas of things they want to get done.

One of the projects I’ve had them do is the yard work. They have done a great job. We have been able to give up our typical Saturday morning couple hours of yard work, because they take care of the yard during the week. This has allowed us to do fun things as a family on Saturdays, like go to the beach and to the zoo.

It hit me this week that I want to explore with them another idea about time management: the quality of the job.

About twenty years ago I heard a company VP say that activities could be broken into three categories:

1) Don’t have to be done.
2) Have to be done.
3) Have to be done well.

Sometimes we’ll tackle a task and forget to consider which category does it fall into. An important task doesn’t always have to be done well. It is important to me that the dishes be loaded into the dishwasher, but once my daughters are above a certain level of quality, they don’t have to go for a perfect job. This is also true the yard work. I want the lawn mowed; I’m not looking for the perfect $5.00 job.


How does this apply to homeschooling?

Well some times we’ll get distracted by jobs that don’t really matter, and don’t need to be done. And other times we can get so focused on a task, trying to do the perfect job, that we’ll miss out on the things that really matter.

As you ramp up for another year of homeschooling, step back now and then and ask yourself. “Does this task need to be done? Does it have to be done well?”


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Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

4 comments:

Ruralmama said...

That was an excellent point. I get bogged down in the unimportant stuff sometimes and it's so frustrating at the end of the day to realize that you missed out on very important stuff.

Amanda P said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I am so guilty of spending time on things that don't need to be done perfectly...working to perfect them. I also am thinking much more about organizing my time better for the sake of my own discipline and my kiddos. Thanks for the wisdom.

gprbali said...

Nice article!.
Anyway, I just got my new job which will start on first of next month. I am quit happy as I must work hard since this company is new. I must develop this company to make it grows and big.
I will leave previous company as there is no more challenges.

Henry Cate said...

Thanks for the kind words.