The number one complaint all teachers have is “There just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done.” Time management is a struggle for everyone. While we cannot add more hours to our days, we can use some simple tips, tricks, and hacks to make the most of the time we have. Here are my TOP 10, tried-and-true, ways to be a more productive teacher.
Time Management Tip #1: Start and End with a Purpose
At the end of each day, I close my laptop and put one simple sticky note on my desk. On that sticky note, I write down the 3 things I will get done the next morning. When I walk into my classroom the following day, I don’t waste any time trying to decide what to do first. I look at my sticky note and get those 3 things done.
Time Management Tip #2: Make a List
Making a list sounds so basic, but you’d be surprised how many teachers don’t use their to-do lists effectively. At the start of each week, grab your to-do list and jot down everything you need to get done before you leave on Friday. Your to-do list will act as your “master list” for the week. If something else comes up, add it to your list.
Click below to get a copy of my “My Busy Week” to-do list!
Time Management Tip #3: Use a Planner
Using a planner saved me for years! I didn’t think I needed a planner, but once I had one, it saved my “teacher life”. My planner kept all of my important papers together, including my lesson plans. When I had to rush off to a meeting, I just grabbed my planner. When I was sick, no problem. My planner was there with everything the sub needed to survive the day.
Having a well-organized teacher planner saved me tons of time and kept me highly organized.
Time Management Tip #4: Keep it Closed
I LOVE chatting with my team, and I think it is great to build relationships with those that you work with day in and day out. However, you have to set boundaries if you want to use your time wisely. During your planning time, or any time you have in your classroom without your students, don’t hesitate to close your classroom door. This simple action can save you from being interrupted and allows you more time to check some items off of your list.
Time Management Tip #5: To Grade or Not to Grade
Not everything your students complete must be graded. Some assignments never need grading while others may require your full attention. Use my “Grading Matrix” to help you decide.
Time Management Tip #6: Theme Your Days
It’s a great idea to give each day a specific “theme”. For example, Mondays may be “lesson planning”, Tuesdays may be “gather materials”, Wednesdays may be “grading”, Thursdays may be “filing and organization”, and Fridays may be “catch up”. Theming is a great way to make sure you are staying focused on one task at a time and getting things done.
Time Management Tip #7 Eat Your Frog
If you’ve never heard the phrase “eat your frog” before, it just means to do the thing you don’t want to do, first. When you look at this photo, you are probably making a face of disgust. I bet when you think of your to-do list, there is a task that makes you make this same face. That’s your frog!
If there is a task you are avoiding, consciously or subconsciously, just do it. You’ll feel better, and you won’t waste time dancing around the fact that it must get done.
Time Management Tip #8: Use Your Students
As a 5th grade teacher, I loved using my students to help maintain the classroom. Students would update centers at the end of each day, collect and pass out essential papers, and even file papers into portfolios. The end of the school day, usually during dismissal time, is the perfect time to assign some tasks and allow your students to help you.
Time Management Tip #9: Don’t Touch it Twice
Not touching things twice is something I learned a long time ago. When you pick something up, put it where it goes. If you find yourself continuously moving the same papers around your desk or the same materials around your classroom, stop. Keep in mind the rule “don’t touch it twice” and take the few extra seconds to put the item where it belongs. This tip will keep you well organized and save you time.
Time Management Tip #10: Keep your Personal Life in Check, too!
Yes, your personal life and teacher life are directly related. If your home life is running smoothly, you can focus on your teacher life while at school, without distractions. One way I keep my personal life organized is with my Life Planner.
Most planners don’t fit my life, so I created a fully-customizable life planner that will fit even the pickiest of planners’ needs. If you are looking for a customizable Life Planner, you can learn more over at OneStopPlannerShop.com