When I think back to my own schooling, I realize that nobody taught me note taking. I was just told to “take notes.” Nobody taught me how to annotate a text. I was just provided a highlighter. Nobody taught me how to prioritize tasks, create a smart homework schedule, manage all my obligations and so on.
As a result, I stumbled through high school and college inefficiently… or at least certainly less effectively than I could/should have. Often, I procrastinated until I had to “crash” study for tests… or pull an all-nighter to deliver the goods I owed. (I am a night owl anyway, but staying up until 5:00 am was so common in my life for so, so, so many years that to this day, I can still burn the midnight oil in a way that is almost unnatural. Or so my wife swears.)
All of that changed when I became an AVID teacher. And read Covey. And then recognized that my inability to be efficient and work intelligently was preventing me from achieving so many of the personal and professional goals I longed to attain.
Before AVID, Covey and all the others who have contributed to my conscientious re-framing (let’s be honest, I have gulped down a ton of books on this subject area), I was an inefficient wreck. I guess this is why I use the term re-framing. I needed to re-frame the way I worked top to bottom, keeping what did work well and tossing what didn’t.
Nowadays, of course, I am a lot of unspeakable things but being “an inefficient wreck” is not one of them. I write, speak, blog, teach, and so on. Is it a lot? For sure. However, my life is not characterized by chaos, which is totally ironic because before I recognized I needed to re-frame the manner in which I worked, chaos was the operative word.
It’s almost as if I did not know how to operate
from any other perspective than under the gun, late for a deadline and so on.
Of course, I loved to lie to myself as well and tell myself that, “Hey, you
work better at the last minute anyway,” and things like that.
It calls to mind a line Mark Twain once said: “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”
But what I really wish, when I look back, is that
someone would have taught me some of the core principles of smart work habits
and efficiency back when I was still a minor. I mean, somewhere, between 4rth
grade and 12th grade, it really would have been nice to learn things
like Cornell note taking, time management, prioritization, and the law of
procrastination. (i.e. it’s stressful, quality often gets sacrificed and the
sense of joy in doing the work is torn asunder by the need to meet a deadline,
come hell or high water.)
It’s like catching an airline flight, in a way. These
days, I always try to be an extra ½ hour early. Why? Because I used to be the
type of person that would try to cut it razor thin and make it to the gate, “just
Of course, every moment of the journey to the airport,
going through security, and getting to the gate was a hellish and stressful “race
against the clock” event which made the entire experience tremendously “tense”.
With the extra half hour these days, I am relaxed, I have a buffer and, if there’s
a hiccup in my arrangements, things don’t go nuclear.
And if I am there a half hour early, I can read,
write, make a relaxed phone call and so on. Really, I don’t ever find that I
have wasted any half-hours. And the gray hairs on my head that I did not cause
to sprout, well… it makes it all worth it.
I just wish I wouldn’t have had to go to the school
of hard knocks to learn this stuff… and if school would have taught me these
things, I would have been much better off.
Then again, who wouldn’t?