Time Management

Are you still feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of this school year? Do you devote hours at home to school work?

Yeah, I've been there too! This fall I decided enough is enough. I've made some changes to reclaim my life. I thought I'd share a few things that have helped me; of course what works for me may be unthinkable for you:)

 Work my contract hours plus just a little bit more. By that I mean I decided I was willing to extend my 7.5 hour day to an 8 hour day. I arrive at school about 1/2 hour before I have to be there. This means I do not sit on any committees this year, since they regularly meet outside of school hours. I also do not schedule conferences with parents except during my planning time or at 8:00 AM (my contracted time begins at 8:15). I am willing to meet personally during planning time as long as it is scheduled ahead of time as well as hold a phone conference during that time. This has meant not being at school for our annual Title I night in September since it is not during work time. It will possibly keep me away from other evening things during this school year. Since I live 40 minutes from campus this enables me to come to school the next day without being exhausted!

Choose wisely how I spend my planning period. Taking out the time to drop off and pick up students from special area classes means I have about 40 minutes each day. By contract teachers do not have to attend any meetings during that time. I am choosing to attend them sparingly! That includes things like PLC meetings (which we have for an hour each week during contracted time; I have told the leader that I will only come to PLC meetings during that hour). I am working to always have a plan for my planning time so that I stay focused and productive. I want to stop doing lesson plans on my weekends!

 Check my school email during my work day: before school, during planning, or during lunch. Once my work day is done I resist the urge to check it at home. I get a huge amount of email some days, so I am working on "unsubscribing" from junk mail that comes in (I'm also doing this on my personal account. That stuff piles up and sucks time away!) That was one of the hardest things - I used to always check in at home.

I joined the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club that began in October. This is the brainchild of Angela Watson at The Cornerstone. I am absolutely loving it, and it is changing my life. Each month focuses on a new topic, and every Saturday I get a new piece of the plan with great resources and encouragement for putting it into practice. To learn more about it, click here. If you are interested, the next enrollment period begins in January. A huge part of October has been learning to develop a good checklist of things to do each day. I am finding that it helps me focus on what is important and I am usually completing my list each day. In fact, when we had our teacher workday at the end of the first quarter I went to work with my to do list and had everything done in 6.5 hours. Then I left for my one hour lunch and went home -- an hour earlier than usual. This is probably the first time that I have not put in 8 - 10 hours on a workday.

I'm applying some of the same time management things at home too. This is helping me feel like important tasks in my personal life are getting attention. And, I try not to beat myself up about the things that don't get done as quickly as I thought they would. I give myself permission to move an item to another day of the week if I need to. I am totally a work in progress, but it gives me hope!

How do you deal with the never-ending pile of work?

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