This month has been all about time management for teachers and organization for your planning period and your email inbox. Today we will tackle a macro system – the 5 things I do each week to keep things running smoothly.
Tip #1 – Start with a Clean Slate
We all know how impossible it is to start a task or be productive when you are working on top of a mess. For me, I can’t start working until everything in my view is mostly tidy. When I would grade, I liked to have a completely clear table.
Think about where there is always a perpetual mess that would take less than 5 minutes to clean up, allowing you to be more productive each week.
- Your teacher desk that’s covered in papers to grade.
- Your car that’s filled with coffee mugs or tupperware.
- It could be that you just wipe down your whiteboard on Fridays, so you have a fresh board on Monday.
- It could be your email inbox.
These may seem trivial, but I always thanked myself when I would show up to work on Monday with a clean desk.
Tip #2 – Have a Weekly Planning Meeting with Yourself
Do you ever show up on Monday morning with 900 things to do and you feel immediately pulled in a bunch of different directions? As you start trying to knock out tasks, you know you are forgetting things, and oops – it turns out you should have been at your morning duty?
You will benefit from having a meeting with yourself. This is time management for teachers 101. I do this every Sunday. I look at my calendar – write down meetings and appointments, decide our meal plan and make my grocery list. Then I might write a few personal goals in my notebook – anything from reading a couple chapters of a book to exercising. I used my weekly worksheet to do this which is included in our planner printables. Grab yours below!
The benefit to this is that it is no longer floating around in my head. If you think it, ink it. (brilliant quote from Laura Stack’s blog) If it isn’t written down or on my digital calendar, then it is likely not getting done and will most likely be forgotten.
A weekly planning meeting with yourself will help focus on what is important to you that week, what you have to prioritize and what you can let go. For example, by looking at your whole week, both professional and personal, you can set your future self up for success. Let’s say you have parent teacher conferences after school on Thursday – you know that dinner for Thursday has to be EASY and quick. Now you can make adjustments to your meal plan.
Now what if your plan goes out the window? My week was planned beautifully, and then my children’s daycare sent us an email stating that my daughters would need to be quarantined for the entire week. Not a great moment for me, but because I had already planned for the week, I was able to look at what had to be done, and remove the extras. After prioritizing, I knew exactly what I needed to knock out as soon as nap time came around.
Tip #3 – Rest
When I taught, I couldn’t trust myself to lay down on the couch on a Friday. I would immediately fall asleep – even at 5 pm! Time management for teachers means giving yourself the rest required to be effective.
Rest looks different to every teacher. If you are childless, sleeping in on Saturday is totally possible. Some of you haven’t slept in since 2010. Your life stage will dictate when and how you can rest.
Rest could mean leaving school by 5 or not working every evening or giving yourself permission to take a nap on Sunday. Maybe go on a walk and listen to some music.
If you are looking for a sign to do something restful, relaxing, and joy filled, then let this be your sign.
Tip #4 – Enter Grades
Talk about something that often gets put off and off and off. Since grades are only due a handful of times a year, it is SO easy to get behind on grades.
I made myself enter grades before I could leave for the weekend – student papers were something I did not want to bring home. I knew that I could grade student work in my classroom twice the speed it would take me to grade at home. I benefited from batching my grading once or twice a week.
Tip #5 – Don’t Leave a Friday Task for a Monday Task
This goes back to starting with a clean slate each week. Don’t leave things that should be accomplished one week for the next week. Let me give you an example – making copies.
It’s Friday, you are tired, your students were exceptionally chatty, and you just want to leave school right after the bell. You don’t have your copies printed for Monday yet, but you can just do that Monday morning. I only did this a few times before I learned that using the copier on Monday is a fool’s errand! The copier will inevitably be occupied by 10 other teachers and most likely the toner will need to be replaced and something will be jammed.
You want to know when no one is using the copier? Friday afternoon.
The caveat is that there is always work to be done and yes, many tasks will need to be moved to the following week, but those time sensitive tasks that happen every single week – plan for them!
What time management teacher systems do you love?