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Time management tips?!

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Bonnie23, Oct 12, 2016.

  1. Bonnie23

    Bonnie23 Occasional commenter


    Some of you may have seen my post lately about feeling stressed and strained.

    Basically I work from 7/8am to 8/9pm every Monday to Friday and take work home on weekends. Monday I finished 7.30 but yesterday 8pm and then tonight 8.30! It's getting worse!

    If any of you have any time management tips I would really appreciate them. Otherwise, only 3 years in, this may be the beginning of the end :(
  2. s10327

    s10327 Occasional commenter

    The obvious one is "do less". It's easy to say, not easy to do, and is especially dependent upon your colleagues. Are there some tasks that just need to be "good enough" not perfect? Can you ask for extra time to do some tasks?
    I used to enjoy efficiency - printed class biography late September once once class was sorted. Immediate boss very proud that she had written and torn up three over the holidays as the class changed, then re written it another three times since the start of term. My way was disapproved of.
    Not much you can do in that sort of atmosphere. Although I did talk about printer ink and paper waste, it didn't work.
    Best wishes.
  3. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I agree, do less. Your are not being paid to sacrifice your life on the alter of education paperwork... I hate the way some teachers bang on about their "time management" as if they have some secret hidden skill, whereas in fact they are just likely to have a smaller work load. No time management in the world would make some teachers workloads manageable, reasonable or tolerable
  4. dacosme

    dacosme New commenter

    First and foremost you need to realise that there is not enough time in the day to complete all the work that is required of a teacher and there never will be! Once you realise this you will prioritise better and rather than trying to complete everything you can focus on completing tasks that are going to be the most beneficial to students' learning. That doesn't mean you will never have to work late as sometimes of the year are busier than others, however regular 12 hour days are not sustainable and should be avoided. So give yourself realistic working targets with regards to how late you are willing to work and ensure that it is no more 50% of your time on average.
  5. Chanteuse

    Chanteuse Occasional commenter

    When I was doing my PGCE I used to have a 'tasks' notebook - I'd write nothing in it but my to-do list for that week. I'd then take a sharpie and dot each task with red - do immediately, orange - do ASAP, and green - do when everything else is finished. I used to take Friday off completely and most of Saturday. Depending on the time vs amount of red tasks, I'd have weeknights off too.
  6. mrswallow

    mrswallow Occasional commenter

    There's a Japanese principle- I think it comes from the Toyota factory originally- called 'kanban'. It can help you manage your work flow better if applied. The most easily adopted part is the idea that you have three lists- to do, doing and done. Everything you think you need to do goes on the 'To do' list, then when you are doing that task it moves to the 'Doing' list and then finally... In a very simple, low tech way, this can be post-it notes on a whiteboard, however, like many things these days, 'there's an app for that'. I use one called 'Trello'. Very simply, you set up three 'boards', each item on your list is a 'card'. The cards are 'layered', so you can add text, links etc to them. You can colour code them appropriately as well.. (I use red for important, orange for 'needs doing' green for 'should be done' and purple for meeting with people...) I came across Trello about a month ago and have been using it ever since. Superficially, it is very, very easy to use, it probably has a lot of functionality I don't use. It is open more or less permanently on my desk-top and I can instantly see what I am doing and what I am doing next. It is important not to have too many things in the 'Being Done' column, focus on a maximum of three. I've found it a good way of managing my work-flow. I'd recommend it, but it may not be for everyone.
  7. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I can't believe all this time and energy and effort people are putting into writing and colour coding "to do" lists

    sounds like madness to me! I know we had inset once on something similar, drowned out by hysterical laughter from the floor....

    two things I have to say
    1. How does wasting time on all this make better use of time?
    2. Am i the only person in the world who finds it blatantly obvious that aiming for constant maximum time efficiency in a job is very inefficient in the long run, and that the gear you can work for the longest in is NOT top gear? You need a sustainable cruising speed that means you can live your life in safety and comfort.
    drek, emerald52 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  8. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    My work life balance has been really good for ages now.

    If a task is useful to you - do it
    If a task is useful to someone else - do it
    If a task is asked of you, but appears poinbtless, ignore it until you are asked a second time. Mostly that never happens and no-one actually minds that you didn't do the 'absolutely essential' task.
  9. install

    install Star commenter

    Say NO more - go home on time. Use your working day hours to do the job - no more no less. Mark with students beside you - peer mark more.

    Put your health first. Look at the books of other teachers if they let you - find out how they do it...
    emerald52 likes this.
  10. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    It is very hard to prioritise when you do not have control of your own workload. If you have the sort of management when several managers are continually bombarding you with emailed tasks, all of which have absolute priority and must be done ASAP.
    install and pepper5 like this.
  11. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    All good tips above, Mine are these:

    Buy or borrow a copy of The Lazy Teacher's Handbook. It is full of ways to save time. I think there is also a wb site of the same name.

    Have specific times for days off, going to bed, and limits on the amount of hours you work each day.

    As far as possible, use materials for your classes you don't have to spend hours making.

    Have a list, write your tasks on it, label them ABC. A tasks are urgent, B tasks can wait, and C tasks are nice to do; in other words of they don't get done it won't affect anyone.

    As someone said 12 hour days are not sustainable and everyone needs one entire day off each week. It is difficult to do, but you must try.
    emerald52 likes this.
  12. muso2

    muso2 Occasional commenter Community helper

    Don't take work home with you. (Unless you really can't stay after school to do anything, in which case, have a clear cut off point). Work expands to fill the time you give it, and if you are working when you're tired you're likely to get less done anyway. Do your photocopying/preparing resources for the next day's lessons before you leave school in the evening. Make a to-do list for the week.
    How big is your department? Are you planning all your lessons from scratch or sharing planning/resources with others? If you have others in your subject/year team, ask them how they manage their workload as they might have some useful tips specific to your school.
  13. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I do virtually all of my marking at home - I can just concentrate better there
  14. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    Time management:

    I don't know if you're in the primary or secondary sector but here's my secondary tips:

    Set homework on photocopied sheets so you don't lug exercise books around and don't waste time having to find the right page to mark.

    Get students to peer mark occasionally

    Set work that doesn't need marking like giving a short presentation

    Set written homework that's easy for the students to do and easy for you to mark so you don't have to write lots of corrections

    Save all lesson plans and give the same lessons or variations of the following year

    Write reports in such a way that just by altering a few words it can be adapted for all the children

    With paperwork cut and paste as much as you can from previous documents and just change the odd bit as appropriate.

    With all work you set think what's the easiest way of assessing this

    Recruit partners to help with your marking especially exam papers or tests

    Get your children to tot up the marks on exam papers

    Produce all resources electronically so they can be saved and adapted for later

    Save and recycle any resources you make for a lesson

    Use schemes of work published by exam boards rather than writing your own

    Scour the internet for resources other people have made and adapt your lesson to fit the resource.

    Well that's enough to be getting on with. Something there may be useful. Shedman.
    emerald52, pepper5 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  15. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    You need to explain what it is you spend time doing. Do you have to much to do and need to cut out some tasks entirely or do you spend a lot of your time in school inventing or adapting resources that already exits in perfectly good text books? Do you get distracted by the internet and spend ages looking at teaching websites for that perfect display/system of marking/activity?

    My advice would be to go home at 5pm for a fortnight. The stuff you then find yourself doing in a panic is the stuff that needs done routinely and the stuff you don't look at/use/nobody asks for is the stuff you stop doing permanently.
  16. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    See my post above. Ignore all these requests unless you can see the point of the task. They will ask a second time if they really need it, mostly they don't.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  17. mrswallow

    mrswallow Occasional commenter

  18. snail_friendly

    snail_friendly Occasional commenter

    Working that many hours isn't good for you! You need to set yourself realistic working hours and give yourself at least the weekend off.

    I work from 7am-7pm Mon-Thurs, leave at 4 on Friday to go to the pub with colleagues and I don't work at home in the evenings or weekends! I know that these 56(ish) hours are still long but it makes me happy, I get 8hrs sleep a night and do nice things at weekends :)

    My advice:

    When setting your working hours think about when you are most effective and when others might need you. For example, as HoD my department know that I'm available to help them / listen / moderate (whatever they need) every single day at 8 in the morning or straight after school until about 5pm.

    At the end of the day / after seeing any faculty members that need me I plan / tweak my lessons so that I'm ready for the coming day.

    I never mark at the end of the day (can't concentrate on it) & I rarely mark for longer than an hour at a time and I do this either between 7am-8am (my mind is always fresh at this time) or I mark during my few PPA slots. I never take marking home as I know that Bake Off, Apprentice, Walking Dead (anything really) will always win.

    There is a great book called Eat That Frog which is about time management - I've used principles from it to run INSET for staff and also to help YR11 better manage their revision. Feedback is always very positive and it is probably what really made me think about needing to prioritise my workload.

    This YouTube video will give you a sense of the concept:

    I like to prioritise my To Do List and my preferred method For this is Stephen Covey's 4 Quadrants (apologies to those of you who've read this from me before but I swear it helps me manage my time) https://goo.gl/images/FJlm13

    At times you just have to accept that there will always be items you haven't finished but as long as you've prioritised - what is left can be done at a later date.

    Hope that's helpful :)
    DYNAMO67 likes this.
  19. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

  20. slingshotsally

    slingshotsally Star commenter

    Thanks to all who have contributed to this thread..

    The ideas are very helpful and I shall look up any book references.
    snail_friendly likes this.

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