Monday, August 8, 2016

Less is More

When I was younger, I never liked the phrase "less is more". Less is not more, actually less is less. Isn't that the point? Less stuff, less talk, less noise. However, the "more" is referring to the impact or the focus. With less stuff we have more appreciation for what we have. With less talk we have more action. With less noise we can tune into what's important. I'm a firm believer in "less is more" as an adult.

Recently at a MEMSPA Leadership Matters session, we focused on the topic of taking the clutter out of our offices. I had already learned the value of reducing (or eliminating) messages in my email inbox from my Google Certification training. I had already eliminated much of my paperwork in the office (I'm not paperless yet). Yet, my office was still cluttered with items that reflect my personality. Pictures of my family, autographed pictures of William Shatner and other childhood heroes, and you guessed it, Superman memorabilia. Now, in my defense, many of the items in my office are gifts from former and current staff members, students through the years, and my family. Twenty years in education has led to many Superman gifts. Hearing that my office needed to be a place where I could keep a laser focus on what I am about (educating students), I realized that it was time to trim down and live out "less is more".

Cleaning my office has been tough. Not because of the stuff, but because of the memories they represent and the image they project. I realized early on that I was never going to have a Spartan office area and that many of the items truly represented who am I and what I believe in. However, it still needed to be trimmed down. The coffee mug collection was traded in for one single mug. The numerous knickknacks were removed and replaced with a couple of special collector items. Autographed pictures of movie and television heroes were swapped  for educational books I have read or am reading. However, the Superman bookends still help keep the educational books in order. While I reduced a great deal, a few items were added like window pictures of educational philosophies and initiatives that reflect my vision for school.

I have accepted that I will never have an office that is as neat and tidy as I wish and I know that my office will always be a reflection of me and my varied interests. But I think the work of downsizing and prioritizing will help me narrow my focus on my mission of helping each child reach their full potential. I hope the changes will help students, staff, and parents understand that our destination is student success...and that it's okay to have a little fun along the way!

I'd like to state for the record that both my copies of "Teach Like a Pirate" are on loan:) 


"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may peak." - Hans Hofmann

"Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify." Henry David Thoreau

"I find that as you get older, you start to simplify things in general." - George Clooney

I have not read this, but my wife highly recommended it. It's on my "to read" list!

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