A time management offer you can't refuse

It's a fairly safe bet that the Godfather hasn't been suggested as a potential role model for Scotland's headteachers before. Just as well, given all the pressure they are under. It might be a temptation that some would quite like to yield to.

Struggling to find cover for a member of staff who is off sick? A horse's head delivered to their bed ought to result in a miraculous recovery.

Not got enough funds to run all the courses you would like to this year or hire the number of teachers you want? Stage a hold-up at the Royal Bank of Scotland to extract the necessary dough.

Not keen on the latest diktat from education secretary Michael Russell? A hit would get rid of that little problem.

But although ruthlessness wins respect and turf wars in the underworld, it is, thankfully, not the character trait that school leaders have been urged to adopt.

Instead, international educational reform guru Michael Fullan has called on them to consider another key factor in the success of crime lords in getting things done. "You don't hear the Mafia saying, `We don't have time to do this,' " he said in a presentation on leadership and curriculum change last Thursday.

Finding time to do the most important tasks seems to have become a daily battle for almost everyone, whatever their job. Headteachers and deputes at the conference certainly related to the difficulties of prioritising their workload and making best use of their hours.

"Time is the greatest challenge we face," one told me, to general agreement. Another said it felt a bit rough to be burdened with ever more demands only to be criticised for being unable to fulfil them all.

Many would argue that they simply don't have enough time to do what they are told - or they know - needs to be done, and with some justification. But Mr Fullan has a point, too.

The Mafia may have been the more interesting example, but he also said that entrepreneurs were equally driven in their ability to "create the time to do what's important".

In a bid to save some precious minutes myself I googled "entrepreneur quotes about time management", looking for some wisdom to pass on.

A few sounded trite, such as "the key is in not spending time, but in investing it", which was attributed to Stephen Covey, author of global best-seller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Another entrepreneur was credited with this less-than-cheery pearl of wisdom: "The best time to start was last year. Failing that, today will do."

But the best advice I found was from the late American publisher Malcolm Forbes. His take on another commonly recommended approach to time management goes thus: "One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion is worth half-a-hundred half-finished tasks."

It sounds deceptively simple, as good advice often can. So if that fails, there's always the Mob.


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