Time Management for Board Members

By Lawrence Hardy

Barbara Haywood has a simple solution for organizing a life that is anything but simple: tote bags.   “I’ve made a bad habit of collecting tote bags over time,” says Haywood, a nurse practitioner, board member for Virginia’s York County Public Schools, and director of the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Southern Region. “My organization would probably be crazy to someone else.”

But it works for Haywood.

“For example, at church I’m coordinator for our health programs,” she says. “I have a bag for that.”

She’s a member of the Greater Williamsburg Women’s Association (“I have a bag for that.”). And a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority (“I have a tote bag for that.”).

So, “all” Haywood has to do each day is say to herself: “Which bag do I pick up today?” Sounds easy, right? Well, no -- not when you consider that Haywood picks up multiple bags most days, with four-tote-bag days not uncommon.

Chances are school board members have a lot of four-tote- bag days -- literally, figuratively, or both. It’s the nature of a job that seems to get more complicated and time-consuming by the day, especially with schools increasingly on the national radar screen.

In some ways, that exposure is good, but it can also overwhelm school districts and their board members, who must find ways to balance work, family, board service -- and often a slew of other civic duties.

But there is good news, Haywood says.

“There are days I get behind and days I get caught up,” she concludes, but “I would say, overall, the job can be done.”

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