At times, working in schools can be overwhelming. You have students and parents to help, lessons to plan, student work to mark, meetings to attend, reports to write, budgets to submit, emails to respond to and, if there is any time left—students to teach. There is so much to do, and only a limited amount of time in which to accomplish it.
Time management for staff in schools is far more complicated than for staff in other industries. We face unique challenges:
- Much of the day is already scheduled. There is very limited leeway so staff in schools must work very efficiently with the very limited time that is flexible.
- An important component of working in schools is to assist students (and parents) beyond the actual classroom teaching time.
- There are many other competing demands on your time including demands from administrators, requests from the wider community, contributing to the school’s on-going development and the need to continually professionally develop and update.
- Good teaching requires students to be engaged and suitably challenged. This requires high levels of both energy and skill.
Research shows the average teacher will make more than 1500 educational decisions every school day. In an average 6-hour school day, that’s more than four decisions every minute. It is no wonder we feel over-whelmed by the demands of our profession.
Time doesn’t change. No matter how organised we are, there are still always only 24 hours in a day. All we can actually manage is ourselves and what we do with the time that we have available. It is VITAL that we learn to work both effectively and efficiently. These two points are always the key to achieving as much as we can with the time we have available.
Time management is about using the time that you have available productively. It IS about working smarter – not harder. It is about how we use that time!
It is important to identify the key issues that are contributing to inefficiency. Watch for times when you are not using your time efficiently. The key question is always, “Is this the best use of my time?”
Watch for problem areas where improvements make a positive impact. Identify what your “time leaks” are and then find a way to plug them. You may be surprised at the activities that are soaking up your valuable time. Clustering similar tasks together is always more efficient, for example – follow up phone calls or having one meeting with a colleague to address multiple issues rather than multiple meetings on single issues!
It is also useful to monitor your own energy levels and ability to concentrate. Try to identify the times of the day when you are most effective. Do not try to accomplish difficult tasks when you are tired. Save those for your peak periods.