Whether you teach in a school, college or university, you’re guaranteed to have a very busy schedule. To ensure that everything gets done and burnout doesn’t rear its ugly head, here are some practical time management tips to integrate into your working day.
Set achievable goals
Making sure that you have clear goals that are also realistic is the first step, as losing track of your to-do list or putting too much on your plate are recipes for disaster. The more specific these goals are, the better – rather than aiming to become a better educator, pinpoint exact areas of teaching that require improvement.
Also take into account the power of wiggle room, as a very strict timetable could be massively disrupted by unexpected events and jobs popping up.
Prioritise your tasks
Now that you’ve laid out everything that needs to be done on both a regular and long-term basis, you need to decide which are the most time-sensitive tasks and which can be focused on over a longer period of time.
Author Stephen Covey recommends placing tasks into the following categories: Important and urgent; important but not urgent; urgent but not important; not urgent and not important. Most of these are self-explanatory but some people get confused with the ‘urgent but not important’, so a good example is something that arises and needs to be done very soon, yet which can be shared with colleagues or even fully delegated to someone else.
You find yourself blasting through an important task during a free period, but then someone knocks on your door or your phone rings. You deal with the interruption quickly, return to the task, and find that your concentration has taken a blow. By the end of the day, you’ve achieved far less than you would have if disturbances had been minimised.
We realise that it’s not always possible to have 100% private time as an educator, but if you save the jobs that require intense focus for periods when you can retreat to a quiet space, you’ll find that they get done far more efficiently.
Delegate where appropriate
There are a number of soft skills that will benefit your career as an educator, from adaptability and problem-solving, to creativity and a strong work ethic. Though delegation may not seem like a soft skill, it’s actually a valuable tool that enables effective time management.
The key is to see delegation as a means of allowing you to get more work done, rather than less – any small jobs that don’t really come under your remit can be passed on so that you can focus on the most important tasks.
Make time for you
Free time that’s spent doing something that makes you feel happy or relaxed is absolutely imperative. Changing your surroundings even just for fifteen minutes so that you can stretch your legs and get a little fresh air will reinvigorate you and lead to the next work session being more productive than it would have been.
And whilst some people say that sleep is for the weak, the truth is that proper rest helps the mind and body to deliver their best work. So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, step back for a few minutes, grab a coffee or glass of water, look out of the window and give your eyes a rest from the screen – we guarantee it will be a wise investment of time.
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