Whether you are a novice searching for your school leadership style or a veteran needing a tune-up this year, this post is for you.
There are many things you can do as a school leader, but Ruckus Makers ask themselves this question:
What will give me the most leverage as a school leader?
“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”-Archimedes
Education is the lever for society.
The school leader is the lever for education.
Lever #1: Gift yourself a deep work block once per week. This is the most important thing you can do each week.
“Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.”-Cal Newport
Deep work will change your life and leadership.
Not all work is created equal.
Every task does not contain the same inherent value.
Knowing the difference between what matters and what doesn’t is the first lever the most effective school leaders pull.
Warning! It feels really good to check off low-value tasks from the to-do list.
You must resist this feeling of accomplishment. The “hack” is to break bigger projects into smaller milestones and celebrate accomplishing the milestones along the journey.
Schedule at least one 90-minute deep work block into your calendar.
Your focus for that time is to work on anything only you can do. Focus on the tasks and projects that will move your school forward. Focus on what will create momentum and value.
Lever #2: Fight distractions by going old school. Your ancient brain wasn’t designed for today’s “always on” culture.
“In a world of constant change, the fundamentals are more important than ever.”-Jim Collins
Tech companies with billions of dollars and an army of neuroscientists are designing tools that will make you ineffective.
Don’t believe me? Check this out.
Your ancient brain didn’t have to set boundaries around things like social media and email. You do have to create those boundaries if you want to be a high-impact school leader.
The easiest boundary you can create is to go back to the basics.
Each night I have a 10-minute routine that includes asking myself my daily reflection questions, establishing my “Big 3” tasks for the next day, and writing my daily agenda on a 3×5 notecard.
I learned this method from my latest coach. He helps a lot of people and makes a lot of money. If this strategy works for him, then I thought it could work for me.
And it does.
By going back to the basics, I eliminate the need to have an online calendar open. I have one less temptation to get lost in the internet, social media, and email because I don’t go to my calendar online.
I can stay focused on the project at hand.
By keeping it simple and analog, I am able to accomplish so much more.
Lever #3: Plug into the matrix. Resistance is futile.
“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.”-Bill Gates
Even though you should look for analog solutions to help you be more effective, adopting tech that can automate your workflow is a great investment.
How do you know what to automate?
If you ever catch yourself using the word “every,” that means you should consider automating that process.
My website is also the only place people can get an autographed copy of my book (unless they see me speak live somewhere and buy my book).
Every time a book is ordered from my website there are five steps that happen:
- I receive an email that a book has been purchased.
- I read that email.
- I take the info from that email and fill out a purchase order to buy my book from the publisher.
- I send that purchase order to my publisher.
- I send the bonuses to the leader who bought my book.
This is a five-step process that happens every time my latest book is ordered.
Completing those five steps is necessary. It’s also not the best use of my time nor is it in my zone of genius.
So I personally fulfilled two book orders and recorded myself doing it. Then, I created a two step zap that connects a google form I built with my business email.
This took me about 30 minutes total.
Now the five step process for fulfilling a book order is just one step: forward a book order form to my mom.
You read that right!
Mama Ruckus Maker now fills out the purchase order, enters some data into the google form I built, and then the publisher receives an email from me.
I have turned a 15-minute task into a 5-second task.
Here is the workflow automation in pictures (using Zapier):
My mom gets an email and fills out the purchase order (not pictured)
She then fills out the simple google form (below) and uploads the purchase order.
Then Erica at my publisher gets an email from me.
I wrote this email once in Zapier. The purple stuff tells the automation to grab the data (name of customer, quantity of books, and shares a link to the purchase order in my google drive).
And here is the email that Erica gets to fulfill the order.
I am no longer a bottleneck in this process. All I have to do is forward an email to my mom which takes 5-seconds per order, instead of 15-minutes per order.
The bonuses get delivered automatically by creating an email automation in my email provider.
I am going to sell a ton of books. This is going to save me a ton of my time.
Lever #4: See everything in “3D” and watch yourself get more done.
“Eliminate. Automate. Delegate.”-Rory Vaden
Ari Meisel from Less Doing taught me the 3D framework in his Overwhelmology course.
He taught the 3D framework in regards to processing email. The beauty of the framework is that you can apply it to any task in front of you.
Here is the 3D framework:
- Do it.
- Delete it.
- Defer it.
I had 100s of emails in my inbox just last week. 82 messages had not even been read. I felt so much stress each time I opened my inbox and wanted to forget I even had email.
Using the 3D framework helped me clear my inbox in about an hour. Now I just have to invest a little bit of time each day applying the 3Ds to clear my inbox.
Do it means you take action right now. This includes forwarding and delegating emails to someone on your team.
Delete it is exactly what it sounds like. You don’t need to respond to everything. People forget they have this tool. I get pitched so much for my podcast these days …
No, I don’t want you to come on my show about school leadership to talk about dogecoin!
And here is one more nugget of wisdom Ari taught me on this topic:
If an email is over two weeks old just delete it. In today’s culture, we want responses in a few days, best in 24-48 hours. If you have sat on an email for two weeks, it is no longer relevant. This helped me clear my inbox quickly!
Defer it. If you have gmail, you can use the snooze function to process an email at a later date.
I’ll use my podcast to illustrate a point again. Every time a guest joins me on the show, they need to deliver to me a 60-word or less bio and headshot. I get those emails all the time for shows I am recording way into the future. So I snooze it to the recording date. But as I type these words I realize I can automate this since I do it for every show!
Apply the 3D framework in order to make decisions quickly and focus on the most important work. Talk about leverage!
Lever #5: Invest in developing your emotional intelligence. You’ll create more results and get paid more.
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”-Dale Carnegie
I wish I would have learned this earlier! But it’s never too late to develop your emotional intelligence.
Once I started investing more resources (time + money) into coaching and emotional intelligence I have experienced tremendous benefits including bigger impact, more money, and more free time.
I truly have the best job in the world and I can trace back my success to when I started developing myself, especially around emotional intelligence.
Key question: What is it worth to you to experience abundance in your wealth, health, and relationships?
The Center for Creative Leadership found that 75 percent of careers are derailed because of a lack of emotional intelligence.
TalentSmart surveyed 500,000 leaders and found that three-quarters of them could not accurately identify their emotions as they happen. Meaning, three-quarters of leaders are influenced by their emotions and have no idea why they do some of the things they do (and why they continue to find themselves in the same sticky situations).
TalentSmart also found that 83 percent of people high in self-awareness are also top-performers and you can add $1300 to your annual salary for every point increase you develop in your emotional intelligence. It literally pays to be emotionally intelligent!
Emotional intelligence 2.0 is a quick and practical book that will develop your EQ. There is a survey to get you a baseline of where you are at and then practical activities you can do to improve your emotional intelligence.
What provides the greatest leverage of all?
What did people like Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison leverage in order to be so successful?
And what if that same thing was available to all school leaders?
Well, it is and you can have the same kind of impact. I’ll show you how in my latest book.