I feel like any teacher can relate to the problem that there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done that we need to. This is not just a “teacher problem” but probably something a lot of people struggle with. Right now I am coming up to first-term progress reports for my students on IEPs and I know just how time-consuming it will be to write progress notes for every goal for each student. On top of that, the rest of the world does not stop, I am still expected to be co-teaching, providing accommodations, modifying assignments, modifying their tests and quizzes, and continuing strong parent communication. So it is super important for me to make sure that I am appropriately managing my time. If I don’t, next thing I know, I’ll be sitting up until the wee hours of the morning trying to get them all done.
Create a to-do list
This seems like a really simple thing, but I find that if I don’t make a to-do list, I am a lot less organized. If you do not actually write down all of your tasks, you risk forgetting something. Personally, I keep a large, lined post-it on my desk right next to my keyboard with my to-do list. Even if the task is something small, or something that I know I will not forget, I write it down. Because sometimes we even forget things we do not expect to. Writing things down also gives you a visual reminder of how busy you are and when my to-do list is full, I am much better at keeping myself on task. And, let’s all admit how satisfying it is to cross things off of the list when we’re all done. Has anyone else written something down after they finished it just to have the satisfaction of crossing it off? No, just me?
Prioritize your to-do list
We all know that everything on our to-do list does not have the same urgency. If you have a deadline to get a report in, that trumps your desire to reorganize your binders. Personally, I use a color-coding system and I have three levels of urgency. Something that is due this week I will write down in red, while something that is due in the next two weeks I write in green. Finally, anything that isn’t due for a few weeks, or it is something that I want to do, but do not need to do, I write in purple. This works for me because I color-code most things in my life. But, in the past, I have written my to-do list in order of urgency, with the things that were more urgent at the top of the list. The issue I had with this is that the list is constantly changing and I was constantly reordering the list. With the color-coding system I just add them in the order they arise and prioritize with color.
Get to work a little early in the morning
As painful as it is, getting to work earlier than you need to be in the morning is a great thing. I don’t know about you, but when I walk in right at contract time I feel rushed for the rest of the day. Not only do I feel rushed, but also it does not give me time to sit down and plan out my day so I feel like I am constantly playing catch up. Getting to work a little early gives me time to check in with my co-teachers and the rest of my eighth-grade team. I stay in the loop for schedule changes and other plans. Plus, it gives me time to filter through my emails, look at the day ahead and make any last minute modifications to assignments. Personally, I like to get to work 30-45 minutes early, but I also bring my breakfast with me so it gives me time to eat my breakfast.
Make your to-do list for the next day before you leave
Before I leave for the day I make my to-do list for the following day. This allows me to more effectively plan ahead. If I know that I have a lot to get done and I do not have my prep until the end of the day, I can better plan what time to get to work the next day. Or if I know that I do not have a lot to do and I have prep early, I can snooze that one extra time. My brain is convinced that snoozing is a good thing even though we all know it really does not help!
These are just some of the things that I do to help myself manage my time. What do you do to make your self more effective? Tell me in the comments!
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