My journey to this point…..
As a school leader, I used to find that my day was mostly spent leaping from one task or meeting to another. There was barely any time in between to gather my thoughts or to plan anything substantial.
I first began to use a planner when I no longer had my own office desk. I was teaching in Reception for three days a week and I had leadership release time on Thursdays and Fridays. The problem was, as with many schools, space was tight and I had limited access to a desk to work on. I came up with the idea of having a journal to keep all of my notes in, so that when I did get some valued release time, I had everything I needed at my fingertips, without the need to have my own physical desk space.
Before this, I had a paper diary and an electronic calendar. Not that there's anything wrong with this, but I found that I was constantly searching around for the information that I needed, or always trying to remember what was said when, and I knew that there must be a better way.
By now, I had heard of the idea of using a planner and ‘journaling’ from social media. I started to research into it more, and spent many hours learning how to record my notes and tasks, and how to become better at productivity. It was then that I had the idea to create my own planner.
I just thought that there must be something that I can create that can make my life as a leader so much easier. I found I wasted so much time looking for things and trying to remember conversations when I didn’t need to.
So one Sunday, I bought myself an A4 notebook and some stick on tabs and created my own planner. I used all of the titles that I knew I would need during the school year.
The tabs had titles such as meeting notes, Governors Meetings, School Improvement Plan, Budget Meetings etc.
Little did I realise the impact that this would have on me.
Gone were the days of carrying around different notebooks for every area of responsibility, and instead, I carried just one, homemade planner, with everything I needed inside.
Literally overnight, I found myself finding everything I needed without thinking about where I had filed something! The pre-populated pages meant that I could find everything quickly, and record my notes when I needed to. Then, when I needed to go back to remind myself what was said during a previous meeting, I didn’t need to log in to a computer, or search a filing cabinet - I had my notes in my planner.
Fast forward two years later, and I found myself in a completely different school, doing a completely different role, but this time, I had my own office to work in. However, by now I had fully invested in using a planner to write all of my notes and ideas in. I wasn’t going back to my old diary system ever again!
What I learned along the way….
The thing that took me by surprise was how much it helped my wellbeing! I honestly went into this journey thinking about productivity. The whole time all I could think about was how much I could get done - and by when. I had so many responsibilities in school that that is all I had a chance to think about.
But, what I started to notice was that the more I wrote down the tasks that I needed to do, and the more I planned when I was going to do them, and the more I journaled how much I had done around a certain project, the less stressed I became, and the more organised I felt. I was not expecting that! I just thought it may take me more time, but honestly - it saved me time!
I couldn’t believe it when we sold our first planner!
After using my own ‘homemade’ planner for several years, I decided that I would like to share my idea with others to see if it would help them. Colleagues around me had already been asking me to make one for them, and I had heard how much they loved it, so I plucked up the courage to go into production.
I remember the printer asking me how many I would like to print, and I answered nervously ‘10!’ It was such a scary leap of faith! For those of you who know, printing is costly, and we are a small business dedicated to volunteering to looking after school leaders, so it had to be the right decision financially.
After my first season, I had sold an overwhelming 300 planners. I was shocked to say the least! Now we’re selling even more every year and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Now, Jonathan and I both help others to look after their wellbeing and to become more productive through our platform at HeadteacherChat and through the use of our planners.
It’s honestly been the most rewarding journey - to see my original idea for a planner being used and loved by so many people, and to know that for very little cost, it makes such a big difference to so many.
So, just in case you are wondering, here are some reasons why you should consider getting a HeadteacherChat planner too. It might just be the best thing you do this year…..
Five reasons you will love using a HeadteacherChat Planner
You will be more organised.
Having everything in one place takes the stress out of finding important information in your busy day. We’ve created special pre-populated pages allowing you to add notes as you go along, without the need to create a new file everytime, and search for those you created previously. No more lost notes!
You will be more productive.
With thoughtfully designed pages which help you to see which of your tasks are priorities and which are long term goals.
You will feel less stressed.
When you write things down, it helps you to relax knowing that you’re not going to forget something important.
You will feel inspired.
Knowing when important tasks need to be completed will help you to plan for the future, allowing you to achieve the goals you have wanted to achieve. Research tells us that you are more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down.
You will celebrate your successes!
Seeing what you have achieved, over time, gives you a great sense of accomplishment. Not only that, but you will be able to share your journey with others by showing them what you have achieved, and when.
And in case that doesn’t persuade you….
A space to reflect
Having a HeadteacherChat planner with a dedicated space to reflect your thoughts, emotions, and experiences, means that you can delve deeper into your feelings and gain a clearer understanding of the challenges and triumphs you encounter. By cultivating self-awareness, using the planner enables you to identify patterns, triggers, and areas for personal growth. This newfound clarity can enhance your decision-making abilities, communication skills, and interpersonal relationships within the school community.
Problem Solving and Goal Setting
Writing in a planner can provide you with an opportunity to brainstorm and problem-solve ideas. When faced with challenges, jotting down your thoughts and exploring potential solutions can help clarify your thinking and generate innovative ideas. Additionally, using a planner can be an effective tool for setting goals and tracking progress. By outlining objectives and recording achievements, you can stay focused, motivated, and accountable. This process can contribute to a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in your professional journey.
In the demanding and fast-paced world of school leadership, taking care of your mental health is crucial. Using a planner is a really easy way to support your wellbeing and I ask you to think about incorporating it into your daily routine so that you can see the positive impact it can have on your mental health, overall well-being, and leadership effectiveness, I promise you won’t regret it!
The HeadteacherChat planners are available in the following titles:
- Deputy Headteacher
- Assistant Headteacher
- School Business Manager
- School Leader
Contents vary according to roles, but a school leader planner includes:
- Meeting notes with agenda and actions
- School Improvement Planning with space for collecting evidence.
- Self Evaluation Form to help you keep track of what you have accomplished
- Teaching and learning Tracker to help you record important information
- Performance Management section to enable to you demonstrate your achievements
- CPD log, reading lists, and Items to purchase
- Assembly planning
- Newsletter updates
- Notes for governors provides a handy place to store your notes for your next meeting.
- Budget notes section which enables you to have your notes in one place.
- Notes, and contacts.
The designs were created by local Norfolk artists, all of which are either studying for their degrees or just graduated.
The planners are printed in the UK using FSC approved paper.
For more information about the HeadteacherChat planners, go to: https://www.shop.headteacherchat.com
Bulk orders for groups or school teams can be ordered via email: [email protected]
An article written for Net Support, May 2023.