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5 Time-saving strategies for busy teachers

With each year that passes, I make a promise to myself to be more organized and change my "I don't have time" mantra.

Do you feel like you're always chasing time and can never catch up with all the work you have to do? 

We all experience and perceive time differently depending on how we spend it. It's no secret that time flies when we do what we enjoy, whereas time seems to be against us when we struggle to go through our to-do lists and never finish tasks.

Whether you feel the staff meeting is never-ending, your pile of essays is the same regardless of the time you spend grading, or that your class ends in the blink of an eye with things left pending, time is what we make of it.

To start this year off on the right foot, I scoured the internet for the best time-management strategies and picked the brains of my fellow teachers for their best tips that could make our lives easier.

Let's make a New Year's Resolution together today and break the cycle that keeps us teachers trapped in never-ending to-do lists.

Time management tips for busy teachers

Nobody understands a teacher better than a peer. Educators are always struggling to balance their workload with their personal life. Here are five of the most successfully tested strategies that promise to help you save time:

  1. Plan your week 

    Most teachers know what they have to do in a week but have little idea how much time that involves. Instead of making endless to-do lists, you should plan each one as accurately as possible. When you have a complete picture of your week, you can be more efficient and use your time wisely.

    A weekly schedule helps you determine how much time you can allot to a task. It also creates a routine in which you don’t procrastinate and become more efficient. As a result, you will avoid feeling overwhelmed with too much work and no free time.

    Read more: 38 Time-saving hacks every teacher absolutely needs

  2. Use the percentage rule

    When you schedule your week, take into consideration the percentage rule. For example, if your teaching time takes forty percent of your day, assign the same percentage of time per day for any teacher-related work. Do the same for all types of work, and you’ll reap the benefits.

    Additionally, time spent working on tasks stretches to the limit you assign to them, also known as Parkinson’s law. If you don’t have clear boundaries, you will find more and more things to do, relevant or not, stringent or not, and you won’t be in control of your time.

  3. Prioritize around your peak productivity hours

    Along with the fixed schedules of our jobs, we also have time that we manage on our own. You have to organize your daily tasks according to the type of task you have to do, how much time you need for it, and when you can focus best for longer periods at a time.

    That time of maximum concentration is called a state of flow that allows you to work uninterruptedly for hours in a row. This is when you’re the most efficient and creative. You should schedule shorter tasks that don’t require much effort outside of your peak productivity hours.

    Read more: How to do more with less screen time 

  4. Learn to say no

    Whenever you take on more than you can actually do, you will never accomplish all your tasks and have a hard time owning your day or week. Determine which tasks are compulsory, which ones you can skip and learn to say "no" to your tendency to do more than needed or to anyone who asks for your time unnecessarily.

    Saying "no" is sometimes the healthiest thing you can do to take control of your day and stop others from deciding what is important to you.

  5. Block "me time” in your schedule

    Although we are teachers and most of our day is related to our jobs, we shouldn’t forget about the time spent for ourselves. “Me time” is what keeps you grounded and fuels you each day.

    Since you are more likely to give yourself the time you need for personal activities if you have it scheduled, block time for your favorite activities to ensure you stick with them.  

    I believe that teachers are starting to understand that they should put themselves first in order to step up for each role they need to fill. While it sometimes feels impossible and somewhat selfish, you can and should take some time for yourself every day.

    Read more: Teacher PD training: Should self-care be part of it?

To sum up  

We all want a sense of accomplishment in life. However, when you have too much to handle, there's always the risk of skipping tasks and forgetting to take care of your own needs. The only certainty is that you will see everything piling up, waiting to tumble down.

No matter how hard it is to stick with it, a schedule will allow you to plan wisely and never forget about your own time. Let this New Year be the beginning of a more organized and clear schedule with enough time to spend on what we value the most.