Do you need a little inspiration to get going with the school year? Not sure where to start? Here’s a little wisdom from a classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, by Stephen R. Covey.

Habit 3: Put first things first.

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, unapologetically – to say NO to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger YES burning inside.”

– Stephen R. Covey

As a side note, a great way to illustrate the idea to students is filling a container with varying sizes of rocks. Start with small pebbles, then medium rocks and finally big rocks. The rocks don’t fit when you add the small ones first. You reverse the order–starting with the big rocks–and magically everything fits. Same rocks. Different order.

I admit I channel a little David Copperfield as I bask in the gasps from my amazed students. It truly feels magical. And the concept sticks.

As you start the school year, take some time to organize your big rocks. Here are some steps to help you put first things first.

Step 1. Reflect on the past year. What went well? What really mattered? Are there things you can take off your plate? Write it all out in a notebook. Take some time to really think about this. Decide what is most important and ask yourself why these things matter. Can you be as effective (if not more) if you cut out the smaller, less meaningful things?

Step 2. Make a list of the things you do every year that must get done. Orientation programs, group counseling, grade level curriculum, career day, data collection reports, financial aid night, graduation etc. The big stuff. Think about your mission, vision and goals as you do this.

Step 3. Determine when each of your big things must get done. Write it all out and then make it into a document with the months and dates these happen. Here is a Year Planner Google doc to help. Keep it somewhere you can refer to it often.

Step 4. Put it all into your calendar or planner.

Step 5. Scroll down to page 2 in the Year Planner Google doc. Add each project, program, etc. Make a list of the basic things you will need to do for each project. For example:

Planning Grid

Step 6. Set aside time for planning. You may have a generic planning time, but label specific time for each of the projects. Give yourself time to focus on each task. You don’t have to schedule it all now, but refer to your list week by week.

Now, take a break and do something good for yourself. And have a fantastic start to your year!

How do you plan? Are these steps helpful? Were you able to use the Google docs? Do you have tips for school counselors in managing their time and energy? I’d love to hear from you, add your comments below.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Subscribe To School Counselor Voice

Subscribe To
School Counselor Voice

Subscribe to receive a monthly emailed newsletter that has links to a downloadable PDF and editable Google doc.

Newsletter arrives on the 20th of each month.

Success! Please check email to confirm.