Teachers may feel like they need more than 24 hours in a day, but some simple time management strategies can help you make the most of the time you do have.
Extra hours in each day would be a true gift of appreciation of all that you do as a teacher. Unfortunately, we can’t change time or give you more minutes in your day. How about some helpful tips to help you accomplish more in less time instead?
Take this first step to time management by keeping a record of exactly what you did in one day and the time you spent on each activity. Be honest and write down everything. Just like tracking your calories, improvements can only be made if every minute is recorded. Lots of time can be stolen away as we let ourselves get distracted from the task at hand without even realizing it.
2. Control What You Can
Be involved in schedule planning if possible at your school to optimize time management. Ask your administrators to keep intercom announcements to the start and end of the school day and to control unscheduled visitors to the classroom. Talk to the guidance counselors and teachers of specialized subjects so that your schedules can work together to maximize efficiency and minimize interruptions for your classroom. Teach your students to be responsible for their schedule so that they can leave quietly when necessary to meet with other instructors without your direct supervision. Have students work in pairs, with one taking the responsibility for getting missed classroom work to the other who was absent or missed class for another reason.
3. Learn to Delegate
This can be a really hard thing to do. It’s difficult to let go of complete control. But time management through delegation of tasks to others can save you precious time. Teachers’ aides are wonderful helps with students who need extra attention or to work with small groups. Aides can also accomplish time-consuming tasks such as bulletin boards or routine clerical duties to free up teaching time for you. If aides are not available, volunteers from the community, grandparents, or parents can be a lot of help and become strong education advocates. Reach out to professional organizations for other resources.
4. Organize that Paperwork
Throw away anything you’ve had for more than one year that you never had time to read or review. It’s just not going to happen. Try to handle each piece of paper only once. Colored file folders really help in organization and time management. Finding what you need quickly allows you to keep moving forward with a task with no interruption or frustration, so find an organization system that works for you and stick with it. Set time limits on what you keep and date each document when received so that when that time limit has expired, it’s time to trash it. Make a calendar and follow it so that you keep these time management resolutions.
5. Use Waiting Time
I have a friend who makes her husband drive on longer-distance trips so that she can use the car ride productively — grading papers, outlining lesson plans, or reading a report. The same can be done while waiting at a doctor’s office, or for your daughter’s soccer practice to end, or for your wife to get home from work. Time management means using the minutes to accomplish routine tasks normally wasted while waiting. By waiting productively, you are free to kick back and relax when you get home!
Hopefully these tips will allow you to get more done in a day, even though you haven’t been gifted an extra hour or two. Time management will increase your productivity and not only make you a better educator, but a calmer and happier person.