I’m a pro-active person. Usually. But I do have a habit of letting the smallest of things continue on in perpetuity. The worst part is, Trevor and I are so alike in this regard. So, things like the huge roasting pan I used for dinner last week… it is still sitting on my washing machine (clean, of course). It takes about 5 seconds to put it down in the basement, but instead I have been repeatedly moving it to the side each time I do laundry. Our life is organized… but add one new aspect into the issue (even just a wayward roasting pan) and it throws off our careful balance of time management. 5 seconds is a lot of time in our world!
Piano Studio Organization = My Project
So, before I start my teaching year again I’ve decided to hone in on the top 5 things that I have not had the time to do properly in my piano studio. This week, I set aside a designated time and I fixed them, once and for all!
Here’s my list. Hopefully some of you have similar niggily things and can can share in my simple solutions. I’d love to hear your own lists of things you’re yearning to have time to put to rest once and for all in the comment section below.
1. My piano student database – I have a system set up, but it’s not a coordinated system. I have an excel file full of the student’s email, phone, mailing address etc. but it’s not available in its entirety on my mobile phone and it’s not available on every one of my computers. For those days when I need to be in touch last-minute (and I have a sick toddler laying feverish in the background) I need those phone numbers quick.
This year I’ve adopted Dropbox with gusto. Now all of my files are available on absolutely any computer (and are securely backed up for those dreaded hard drive failures). Dropbox has an app for my phone that gives me access to any and all files no matter where I am. I’m covered! No adding contacts into multiple places – I can have one central system that is still accessible anywhere.
2.My supplementary photocopy filing system – I’m always using the exercises from “Shhh…Your Piano Teacher Thinks This is Practice” and “Pssst…Your Piano Teacher Thinks This is Theory” in my studio. When I have an “Oooh! That activity would be perfect right now!” moment, I’d love for it to be immediately at my fingertips. I bit the bullet and purchased a little $70 Samsung black and white printer for my personal studio so I can have my laptop hooked up and both book files open.
A simple press of “print” will eliminate the need to search through stacks of pre-photocopied pages (and this baby prints 1800 pages per ink cartridge!). I would love to hear how others using these books organize the activities! (For those of you who don’t know, both books come with a license to print unlimited copies forever in your own personal studio).
3. My communication with parents – I’m a bit of a work-aholic but with two growing girls I need to streamline my working style a bit. This year, instead of emailing whenever I get the chance (and then letting that chance drag on for hours) I’m going to have a weekly rotational schedule of the most common emails I send. I’ve created “canned responses” in gmail that provide the basic framework so I can change the name and the most important details to personalize each one.
This will cut my time in half when emailing my “Random Emails of Kindness”, my congratulatory emails for students who are receiving one of our monthly studio awards, my friendly “relationship building” emails and my gentle reminders. By having a set schedule I can also look back to be sure I’ve paid equal attention to all families.
4. My piano book invoicing system – In past years, I have invoiced each student book twice. One invoice stays with me letting me know the book has gone out and one invoice goes home with the parent so they know how much they owe. I’m always annoyed with the amount of paper this causes and I know for a fact that most of those invoices end up down the side of the parent’s car seats anyway.
This year, I’ve fallen in love with the Avocado Scanner app for my phone. Now I just need one invoice. I keep this copy, take a picture of it with my phone and can email it directly to the student’s parents as they walk out the door of their lesson. Avocado Scanner turns photos into pdf files – my parents can then print if they choose or keep it on their own phone as a reminder of funds due.
5. My poor piano bench legs – I look at these every single day and think.. yikes, those are looking scruffy. Never do I actually get down on my hands and knees to see what I can do about it, but it bugs me continually. Ta-daaa…. Pinterest to the rescue. Apparently I can fix these with a walnut. I’ll keep you posted.
“It’s a Good Thing”…
Making this switch took me a grand total of… are you ready for this?… 25 minutes (I bought the printer while I grocery shopped). 25 minutes and I’m feeling quite like the Martha Stewart (before the whole insider trading deal!) of the Piano World…. and “it’s a good thing”! 😉