There never seems to be enough hours in the day. We’re constantly caught in the daily rat race of trying to balance work, home, personal interests, and other commitments. What’s a poor teacher to do? We’ll look at some strategies here to help you better manage your time.
In an Edutopia blog post, transformational leadership coach, Elena Aguilar, suggests that one of the best strategies for managing time is saying no. Despite its negative connotation, “no” can actually be a liberating word, freeing you from things that don’t advance your career goals, don’t accomplish what you need to for your students, or simply don’t make you happy.
Why is it important to manage time? An excess of stress can cause other aspects of your life to suffer because you’re not devoting enough time to them, and it may make you feel as though you’re running in circles. Time management places your life back under your control, and it helps you focus on what really matters to you.
Get the Small Things Over With. Much of our day’s work is accomplishing small tasks that accumulate over time. If you can accomplish a task in a few minutes, then do it as it arises. This strategy helps alleviate the stress of having one more thing on your to-do list, and it saves time because you don’t have to revisit the task later.
Combat active Laziness.” In “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying,” Sogyal Rinpoche cautions against “active laziness,” or filling our lives with meaningless activities without paying attention to our hearts, minds, and souls. To rid your life of time-draining active laziness,” examine your to-do list for things that really don’t matter and figure out how to eliminate them. There is no sense in wasting time on unnecessary things.
Think About What You’re Doing. We often engage in mindless tasks such as watching tv or surfing the internet, and then wonder why we don’t have time to spend with our loved ones or on ourselves. Unplugging for a few minutes can help us focus on meaningful things, and it requires us to think about what we’re doing before we fall into that trap of spending hours watching cute kitten videos on YouTube.
For many of us, saying “yes” is so reflective, it rolls right off of the tongue. We say it because we want to be liked; we want to make the people around us happy; and sometimes it feels easier to say “yes” just to avoid conflict. But when we do so without thinking, we not only almost immediately begin to feel remorse and even bitterness, but we are also saying that we don’t deserve the very time we’re giving away.
When we started examining this topic, we looked at an Edutopia article by Elena Aguilar, who suggested that saying “no” is an ideal way to better manage our time. Saying no can also mean “not right now” if the time isn’t right for a project or activity. Taking time to think things through first can save quite a bit of time and stress as we carefully consider what the task is and why we should or should not do it.
Some time drains are avoidable. With careful planning and organizing, we can save precious time and energy every day. Not only do these suggestions work well for our personal lives, but they can also be applied to our professional lives.
Plan Everything. We probably wouldn’t take a road trip without first obtaining a map, and we shouldn’t begin each day without first mapping it out. Take a few moments each morning to plan your day, giving you an idea of what to do and when. Planning your day makes you less prone to distractions, and it forces you to think about what you want to accomplish by the end of the day. It’s rather satisfying to complete everything you intended to do.
Get Organized. You don’t have to be an organizational expert to whip some organization into your life. Start fresh with your closets by reorganizing and rearranging them into something that is more orderly and sensible. Discard otems you no longer use. Be sure that everything you do use has its own place, and ensure that it returns there when you have finished using it. Commit to becoming more organized, and you’ll find yourself spending less time searching for things when you need them most.
Time management isn’t just for the greater aspects of our lives. We can apply time management techniques to our classrooms that will help us manage our lives outside the classroom too.
Batch Your Work. If you’re like me, you’re guilty of generating an enormous pile of assignments or tests that need grading, and then find yourself caught in marathon grading sessions just to get the job completed. Instead, break your work into small batches that you accomplish each day. I find this strategy to be much less stressful. Not only can this principle work for grading, but it can also work for other large projects.
Think “Big Picture.” To save both your time and and that of your students, think about assignments from a “big picture” perspective. What will benefit them most in the end? If an assignment has long-term gains for students and advances their success in other aspects of their lives, then choose that assignment over one with much lower implications.
Put Tech to Work for You. Creating bookmarks and shortcuts to the websites we visit regularly can save time — up to 64 hours per year according to the American college of education. There are also applications and programs available that help us manage our time and our classrooms better.
Put Others to Work for You. Delegating responsibilities to students helps you use your time more wisely. Assigning classroom tasks to students ensures that the tasks are completed without costing you extra time. Classroom tasks also engage students and encourage their personal responsibility.
Time is precious, but there never seems to be enough of it in a given day. By managing your time, you can regain some of it, allowing you to focus on things that matter most in life. All it takes practice, perseverance, and patience. The rewards are great when we finally have the time to sit back and relax.