10 things every principal should do before 10 am

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Starting your day on the right foot can create momentum and the kind of energy that can sustain you from the morning until the evening.

That’s why many leaders suggest starting your day by making your bed.

Or brushing your teeth and washing your face.

These are simple acts.

But they have a profound effect on your psyche and they set the tone for the day.

Whatever you do, start the day with a quick win and ride that tide for as long as you can.

For the rest of this post, I’d like to suggest 10 things every school leader can do before 10 am in order to continue that positive energy.

I PROMISE that if you follow this advice, you will FEEL like you’ve won the day by 10 am.

Every day.

If you woke up today, you have reason to be thankful.

An attitude of gratitude is one of the single greatest commitments a leader can make to themselves each day.

When you focus on gratitude you are opening your mind and heart to be receptive to the potential and possibility embedded in each day.

Not only that, people will ENJOY being around you.

And you will ENJOY whatever you are doing that day.

Gratitude is the foundation.

Do you know what today’s danger, opportunity, and strength is?

Dan Sullivan at Strategic Coach created an idea called the DEEP D-O-S Strategy.

D-O-S stands for Danger, Opportunity, and Strength.

It’s a fantastic idea to consider each morning in your journal and will only take a few minutes to complete.

Answer the following questions:

  • What is a danger today that I need to prepare for or address?
  • What is an opportunity that I want to capture?
  • What is a strength I want to build upon?

And I’ve learned some powerful lessons by using the D-O-S framework in my morning journal.

By writing down the dangers, they all of sudden feel a lot less scary. Something that I found paralyzing before, now becomes less of a big deal. A T-Rex turns into a tiny mouse.

I also found that by writing down the danger, my mind has an interesting way into turning it into an opportunity!

Visualize yourself being a success. Today!

We know Olympic athletes have a routine for visualizing success.

But do school leaders use this available tool as well?

This does not have to be a long process at all.

Consider the next meeting you have coming up or the difficult conversation you need to have with a colleague.

What does a successful outcome look like?

What do you see? What do you hear and say?

Most importantly, how do you feel in that moment?

Strut your stuff. Show me what you’re working with!

This tip is about being visible.

Get into the hallways.

Greet staff and then students as they enter the school.

Visit a few classrooms (not for a formal observation) but to see and be seen.

As the leader of a building, it’s important that you connect with as many people in your building as possible before mid-morning.

Pretend you are allergic to email (and meetings).

Email sucks. It’s just someone else’s agenda for your day.

It certainly isn’t the most important work that you will be doing in the day.

So don’t focus on email until you’ve had time to engage with real people, face-to-face and had time to do some meaningful work.

Meetings also suck. Or at least, most meetings suck.

That’s because they lack clear purpose, go on too long, and possibly lack accountability (who is doing what by when?).

My most productive time each day is during the morning hours.

Therefore, I avoid email and schedule the majority of my meetings for the afternoon.

If you are winning each day by 10 am, then the meetings you have later in the day don’t feel as worthless.

Sprint on the day’s most important project.

If you are like me and your most productive part of the day is the morning, then sprint on your most important project right out of the gates.

Again, this list is all about generating momentum to start your day.

Imagine making GREAT progress on your most important project each day by 10am.

If that was your truth, what would you be able to accomplish?

And “No” as a school leader, I reject the excuses that your schedule cannot be predicted, there are too many emergencies, or not enough time.

Grow a backbone.

Demonstrate some boundaries.

And do something great. Today! This morning!

When was the last time you breathed deeply? Take a full breath.

Did you know that research has found that people hold their breath or breathe shallowly when reading email? It’s called email apnea.

And the pace of a school leader’s schedule can definitely be intense.

Our brains need 20% of the oxygen we breathe in order to function. When we are working hard that number increases to 50%.

Plus breathing deeply feels good.

And allows you to pause.

Maybe even relax.

So my minimum prescription is three deep belly breaths. If you can afford more time try to get 1-minute, 3-minutes, 5, or even 10 minutes of deep breathing.

Not only will you feel better, you will also perform better.

Do you need to make any amends?

Each evening I ask myself this question in my journal:

What will I do differently tomorrow?

If I harmed any relationships or otherwise made mistakes that need correcting, then I need to own that and deal with it ASAP.

The longer you wait to take action on making things right, the tougher it is to take action.

Don’t procrastinate.

Make things right immediately. Every morning.

Build the capacity of your team.

One mistake I see many leaders make is hiring A-player talent and then leaving them alone.

For good.

Resources and autonomy are both great things.

But don’t forget about your team.

Take time to do even the smallest of actions each day that your time will find inspiring and build their capacity.

After all, we are playing an infinite game.

Not only are you developing your current team’s capacity each time you pour into them.

You are also developing their future teams. And the leaders after them.

Don’t forget Rule #6

Work should be fun.

And it’s hard to enjoy work if you take yourself too seriously.

So don’t do it.

It’s really that simple.

Make a choice to not take yourself so seriously.

To laugh, smile, and have fun at work.

Life is just too damn short.

Ready to Level Up?

I’ve created a FREE 5-day challenge that will help you have the BEST YEAR EVER.

Learn how to engineer consistently POWERFUL days and enjoy a rewarding leadership experience that is simple and fun!

Join the challenge today!




Host of the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast with over one million downloads 🚀

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Daniel Bauer

Daniel Bauer

Host of the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast with over one million downloads 🚀

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