Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life – The 24 Hour Rule
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Slice of Life – The 24 Hour Rule


“You two need to learn about the 24-hour rule.”

Wayne Ogden, an important mentor in our lives, taught us about the “24-hour rule.”  The rule dictates that some things in life should not be responded to immediately.  There are times and situations that deserve more time. He encouraged us to think about the speediness with which we respond to people and get things done.  In our effort to be efficient and responsive, he explained that we might be sending the wrong message.  There are simply times when it is better to wait 24 hours, reconsider and then respond.  Here are some reasons to employ the 24-hour rule:

  • Your Question is Important – I am Going to Take Time to Think About It

When we listen to someone and slow down to consider their question, we send a message to them.  If a person is asking a question, it typically is not an easy question – if the answer was clear they would not be asking in the first place.  When we tell someone we are going to take some time to think about their question it honors the question.  It also allows us to remember that our role as a teacher, coach, instructional leader or parent is not to have all the answers.  Our role is to create a culture of learning.  When we ask for time we are giving ourselves time to learn and grow as well and create a community that learns from each other.

  • Prioritizing – What Needs to Get Done Immediately?

We all get pulled in lots of directions.  If we don’t prioritize we can quickly burn out and lose the energy we need to cultivate a learning community.  The 24-hour rule gives us permission to look at what needs to get done and make priorities.  When we prioritize we slow down and give everything more thought.  We also discover that often, when we wait, people solve the problem without us.  If we are always quick to respond, people may get used to looking to us rather than themselves to answer questions or find resources.  Over time, this could create an over-dependence and send a message that we are the “owner” of the knowledge rather than a facilitator of a learning.

  • Setting Expectations – What Expectations Are We Setting for Ourselves and Others When We Feel the Need to Respond Immediately?

Email, text messaging and cell phones make it easy to immediately respond to everything.  Our culture now expects immediate response.  We find ourselves apologizing for “our delayed response” if it is more than 6 hours after receipt.  Work starts to creep into our evenings, weekends, family dinners and vacations.  If we respond to everything immediately we are sending a message that we may expect the same.  We may set a precedent for ourselves and others to continue to live up to.  The 24-hour rule helps us decide when something really is time sensitive and when it can wait.  Everyone needs time to decompress and recharge.  Our response time sends a message about how we think others should spend their time.  We want to be available to others and ourselves.  Anne Lamott tells us, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.”  The 24-hour rule reminds us to unplug and recharge.

The 24-hour rule has been a tried and true for us throughout the past ten years.  We do try to be responsive and available to the people in our lives – both personal and professional – but when cannot, we no longer feel guilty about it.  In fact, the rule explains why it might even be better to wait.  So when we are sitting in our car trying to answer all of our emails or when we get a phone call during dinner, we take a moment, think about the 24-hour rule and decide if it can wait.

Clare and Tammy

  • Avatar
    Jennifer Laffin
    Posted at 10:50h, 13 December Reply

    I so, so, so needed to read this today. I love everything about your post today, ladies. I’m going to print this out and put it where I can see it at school. THANK YOU!

  • Avatar
    Posted at 12:17h, 13 December Reply

    Love, love, love, love this!

    We have a “rule” that we MUST respond to email within 24 hours.

  • Avatar
    Mandy Robek
    Posted at 12:38h, 13 December Reply

    Thank you for the suggestions and tips. Where does the Anne Lamott quote come from?

  • Avatar
    Kate Tobiasson
    Posted at 14:11h, 13 December Reply

    Thanks for this great reminder! I do find myself apologizing…. Kids and adults need time to process. I remind my students that they need to let things “percolate.” In the holiday season, I can get swept up in the hustle and bustle. Thanks, ladies!

  • Avatar
    Kimberley Moran
    Posted at 03:31h, 14 December Reply

    I never leave your blog without food for thought and today is no different. I’ll give it 24 hours and get back to you. 🙂

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