Top time management tips for teachers! Check out this post for how to stay focused, stop procrastinating, and get things done within your daily schedule!
Have you ever met that one teacher that seems to somehow have more than 24 hours in a day? You know the one. They always seem to be on top of everything and are never late or frazzled. In fact, they may be some kind of mystical unicorn. Or maybe not.
More likely these teachers have honed in on how to best manage their time.
It was in my second year of teaching that I really began to study those around me who didn’t take work home and ask them how. I learned a few key time management tips that became my daily routine and a total lifesaver.
Today I am here to share these magic ideas with you. Now of course, like everything else, not every tip will work for every person. That’s the nature of life. So, I encourage you to take in each of these tips and then think about how they can best serve you.
Time Management Tip #1: Take a Time Inventory
A lot of the time we don’t even know where the time goes, but suddenly you look up at the classroom clock and it’s 7 pm. This is an easy rabbit hole to fall down when you don’t have a plan.
For one week, I want you to commit to recording how you spend your time. You may choose to do this for just those afterschool hours, another time period, or your whole week.
This inventory will serve a couple of purposes.
The first is to show you exactly how you are spending your time. This will allow you to see if you are wasting your time anywhere and cut that right out. This is a really empowering thing.
Next, it will allow you to see where you are spending the most time and what you are doing. This will allow you to set future goals. For example, I may see that I spent three and a half hours lesson planning during the week. This gives me a good idea of how much time it should take me each week and block out that time.
Time Management Tip #2: Make a List of Pocket Activities
A pocket activity is something that can be accomplished in a small pocket of time. These pockets of time are usually ten minutes or less and often occur at the beginning or end of your planning period. For example, maybe you are meeting to plan with your team, but you arrive a few minutes before the meeting starts. Or, you have a parent conference that takes all but ten minutes of your conference period. These small pockets of time are often taken up by tasks that do you help us with time management.
If you have a list of pocket activities you are ready to spring right into action and use these pockets wisely. My number one pocket activity was always grading. I kept papers to grade with me everywhere I went and would grade a paper or two at a time. This helped me to stay on top of my grading and took a lot of stress off of me when grades were due. It also helped me to provide timely feedback to students on their work. This means I graded a paper or two while waiting for my students to get out of specials, while waiting for others to get to a meeting, or when I finished another task and had just a couple minutes before I needed to be doing something else.
Everyone’s pocket list is going to look different. For you it might mean organizing part of the classroom, making a phone call home, writing a note to a student, or catching up on email. The important thing is to have this list ahead of time so you can spring right into action and use your time wisely.
Time Management Tip #3: Hide
This one may sound funny, but it is a tried and true method of getting stuff done.
I am not talking about shutting yourself in the closet and playing on your phone. What I am saying is close your door, probably lock it if I’m being honest, turn off the overhead lights, and get down to your work.
By closing your door and turning off the lights you signal to others that you aren’t there. This means you won’t be fielding interruptions and will give yourself a solid power period to work. This is my personal favorite for when I have something that NEEDS to get done and needs my full concentration.
By being a little anti-social you can be more productive and give yourself more time to be actively social later. I used this strategy so widely at school that it became a running joke with my team that I ghosted them during our conference period. You know what though, several of them followed my advice and did the same thing. This allowed all of us to get our work done and leave school at a reasonable hour which made us all-around better people to work with. We also knew if we truly needed something from one another we could knock on the door and it would most likely be answered.
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