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30th March 2020

Partnership & Development Team: Effective Time Management for teachers and homeschoolers

Our Partnership & Development Team are offering a range of resources primarily for teachers but for parents too, as a means of supporting you in what may possibly become an extended forced period of homeschooling. We encourage you to share, comment and offer suggestions for future posts so that, together, we can work as a community.

We are well aware of the difficulties everyone faces, so giving yourself some genuine structure and sticking reasonably rigidly to a plan in the days ahead will be vital for keeping on top of the tasks you have, as well as being crucial for your mental wellbeing. 

Give yourself a timetable

Our first tip is simple but essential: create a timetable.  We’d suggest taking 30-45 minutes, maybe even a little longer, to make one that is genuinely fit for purpose.

Now, you may well have online teaching commitments which will take up certain slots during the day, therefore these will be the first things to add in. 

Next, add in any virtual meeting slots that you have as a fixed part of your week.

Now, crucially, add in time for breaks for relaxation, and also time to prepare and eat food!

Don’t just write “BREAK” or “LUNCH”, rather ask yourself what you will do during this time to make it as beneficial as possible to your mental wellbeing. You might not do that exact activity or cook that exact meal, but that is fine, as long as you strictly earmark these periods of time for your physical and mental wellness. 

We know that everyone is different, so create these slots to fit around a day’s schedule that works best for you.

Managing your task lists

Next, make a list of all of the different non-”classroom” based tasks that you have to do this week, these could include:

  • Planning
  • Marking
  • Report writing
  • Data entry
  • Essential phone calls
  • Reading around updated policies that are essential to these times

This list now becomes your “to do” list and you can add to it when other things crop up. You can use a numbering system to prioritise the tasks so that you know which ones require a strong sense of urgency

However, this is your master list and should not be on display all of the time. Tuck it away and read on about when to use it.

Now, each morning (or evening if you wish), look at the day ahead and work out what is actually manageable within the non-teaching / meeting slots you have, being incredibly mindful also of your break and relaxation time.

Then, take out your master list and from this, make a “will do” list. Include in this list only a number of items that will be manageable in the slots you have during your working day and, importantly, leave yourself time to pick up anything unscheduled which requires immediate or urgent attention.

Remember to make this list a mixture of the urgent, the important but not urgent and the less important but nonetheless necessary. Some people like to use this graphic to help them prioritise these lists:

Your “will do” on a particular day list might look something like this:

  • Plan Year 8 lesson
  • Plan Year 10 lesson
  • Write up termly targets for EHCP and other SEND students

Remember, if you get through all of the tasks on top of your teaching, you can always pull out your master list and add on another manageable task, remembering also to strike through those you have already completed.

By completing your “will do” list each day, you will give yourself a strong psychological advantage – the day’s tasks are done and you can relax. 

Emails

Importantly, make sure that you are not constantly going to and fro between emails and getting caught up in threads you don’t need to. Set aside time for emails and, remember, if anything is urgent, people can always call.

If you find that you are overwhelmed by your inbox, a good idea is to archive everything that is more than two weeks old. If there is something of major importance, it will almost certainly resurface as part of a thread or you will be reminded by someone. If you want to be super-cautious, also look for anything marked “urgent” or “confidential” over the past six weeks so that you are sure you have addressed these appropriately. What you will most likely find is that people tend to label things as urgent or important that actually are not – this will hopefully deter you from ever labelling yours thus unless it is genuinely important or urgent.

What to do when

Consider when you are at your most creative, as opposed to times when doing menial tasks is all that you are capable of. For example, if you know that mornings after a workout tend to get your creative juices flowing, resist the temptation to stare at your inbox, answering non-urgent emails or organising your files into alphabetical order!

The Pomodoro technique

Finally, a tip to get you through your moments of procrastination! Often, making a start is the hardest part of any task. This great tip works brilliantly! The technique is simply about setting a timer for 25 minutes and getting on with your tasks with no other distractions allowed. You absolutely just have to get on with your task for 25 minutes, even if part of that is just thinking about it. Once the 25 minutes are up, take a five-minute break (make a cup of tea if you like!) and then set the timer for another 25 minutes. Take another five minutes and settle back in for a final 25 minutes on your task. Adhered to strictly, this technique will see you finish some tasks and break the back of others, all the while realising that, actually, procrastination is the hardest thing to conquer, not the task! And, before you ask, yes, I used it to help me write this! I have four minutes remaining, so will use it to think of a little suggested reading, which you’ll find below! 

Take care and stay safe!

The Partnership and Development team!

 

Have a read of these:

Tom Sherrington – Rosenshine’s Principles in Action

Steve Taylor – Back to Sanity

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Our Partnership & Development team work with you and your school to ensure transparency and to make sure you’re succeeding in your role. To take advantage of the support the Partnership & Development team can offer you, register today.

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