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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Constable

4 Rules for Managing Your Time as a Centre Director

Running an Early Childhood Education & Care (ECEC) service isn't easy.

Navigating documentation, staff management & Child Care Subsidy (CCS) can take its toll, and preventing burnout is something leaders in Early Childhood need to take seriously.

One strategy for working more efficiently and improving your own wellbeing at work is to adopt the Time Management Matrix - coined by Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Adopting the Time Management Matrix

The Time Management Matrix is a framework that segments tasks based on their urgency and importance. It has 4 categories for tasks that are:

  • Urgent & Important

  • Not Urgent, but Important

  • Urgent, but Not Important

  • Not Urgent & Not Important

Each category has a suggested action. The matrix suggests that you assign a task to its relevant category, then take the suggested action to work through your tasks more efficiently.

Let's go through the categories now.

Quadrant 1: Urgent & Important

Quadrant 1 tasks are things that must be done immediately, and have a significant impact on the business.

They include problems or crises, and can be described as 'putting out fires'.

Whilst the framework suggests that you must do these first, too much time spent in Quadrant 1 can lead to burnout.

If you spend too much time in Quadrant 1, you either need to re-evaluate what you class as urgent or important, or take a look at some of the bigger issues within your organisation that make so many problems occur.

One example of this in Early Childhood is a potential hazards or being out of ratio. These things could get you in trouble if a child or team member was to be injured or a spot check was to occur.

Quadrant 2: Not Urgent, but Important

Quadrant 2 tasks are those that prevent problems and should be planned. They include improving processes, creating strategies etc.

Time spent in quadrant 2 allows the individual to gain a long-term vision, thus preventing time spent in quadrant 1 & improving wellbeing.

One example of this in Early Childhood is developing policies & procedures. These will prevent crises from occurring if a staff member can easily access a policy or procedure to follow.

Quadrant 3: Not Important, but Urgent

Quadrant 3 tasks are those that should be done immediately, but don't have an immediate or major impact on the business.

Similar to Quadrant 1, too much time spent here will cause burnout, but the lack of importance means that directors can delegate these tasks to others.

Spreading out tasks like this mean that you can get more things done without having to strain team members.

One example of this in Early Childhood is ordering stock. You need the stock, but if someone gets it wrong, it's easy to head to the shop & get more, even if it's a slightly higher price.

Quadrant 4: Not Important & Not Urgent

Quadrant 4 tasks are - in theory - pointless.

Usually the work people save for a Friday when they can zone out and run down the clock to the weekend. It is often referred to as "busy work" i.e. looking busy without actually achieving anything.

These tasks are a waste of time, and too much of this means a lack of results.

One example in Early Childhood is laminating. Why? Why do people spend so much time laminating?

Applying the Time Management Matrix

Some may say that having the time to organise your workload this way is a luxury. It's a bit of a catch-22.

So my suggestion would be to start with Quadrant 1 & 3. What is really important to the business? Can someone else do the job? Could they even do it better than you?

If you start by taking things off of your own plate, you can redistribute that time into Quadrant 2 so you can plan accordingly.

And please.




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