Time management skills can make all the difference between an organized teacher and a disorganized one. Learning how to manage your time effectively is something that is rarely taught in college prep classes around the country, but it is a skill that can make your job a lot easier. Although everyone has different time management needs, there are some basic things that you can do to help organize your time. Those things all begin with a plan.
Making Your Time Work For You
Start by planning out your time. Create a weekly schedule that details all your time commitments down to the quarter hour. Block out the consistent commitments, such as work and sleep, first. Fill in other meetings and appointments as they vary by week. You can color code the activities on the calendar if that helps you to focus. After all the outside commitments are recorded, fill in the other times with things like lesson planning, grading papers, and gathering supplies for the next day. If you do not put it on the calendar, at a specific time, you are less likely to accomplish it. By giving each task a specific time, and adhering to the schedule, you can actually manage your time a lot better.
Making a List
Another helpful tool when it comes to time management is the To-Do list. Whether you prefer to create a to-do list on your phone or computer, or like to cross things off a handwritten list, having one helps to give you focus. You can create a list for school and a list for home, or you can combine the two. It can be overwhelming to see a list with 20 items on, so try to keep the list under control. You may find that when you are working on a task, you suddenly remember something else that needs to get done. It’s like a To-Do list tangent. Instead of stopping what you are in the middle of, make a note of the new task or idea in the margins of your paper. You can add the item to that day’s list, or transfer it over for the next day’s tasks. Make your list for the next day before you leave school for the day, or before you go to bed. Waking up knowing what needs to be accomplished will help to give you purpose and organize your time.
One of the most important aspects of time management is to be realistic about your time constraints. You may want to get 40 things done in a day, but if you only have time to accomplish 10, avoid setting yourself up for failure by writing them down on your list. Instead, space out those items over the course of a week or a couple of days. Avoid interruptions and procrastinating during your work time. If you need to hang a sign on your door that says, “Working – Please do not interrupt,” do it. If you do not set boundaries, it is very likely that you will not be as productive as you would like to be. Other things that help to save you time and avoid delay are deleting emails and voice mails that you no longer need. Opening your inbox to only a few emails is a lot less overwhelming than opening it to find dozens of old ones along with the new. Being realistic about the time you have available, gives you the power to say no to more commitments and obligations.
Time management is about more than getting a lot of work done in a short amount of time. It is about managing your work style and your life. It puts you in control of the things that you need to accomplish and gives you the opportunity to feel great satisfaction when all those tasks are completed.
How do you manage your time? Are there tricks that you use to stay focused?
Share with us by leaving a comment below. We would love to know how you do it!