May 21, 2021
When it comes to getting things done, I have found there are 2 camps of people—the Procrastinator and the Prepper – although some people can fall somewhere in the middle. Most of the time, I am somewhere in the middle. I will prep to an extent, but then fly by the seat of my pants and am in it for the adventure. Work is something different for me, though, especially with teaching, and especially as a virtual teacher where I am pretty much in control of my schedule.
I have a variety of life experiences and many different types of supervisors that have helped me learn how to manage my time effectively, from making a list of 6 things to do each day, to making sure I have something to do at all times, even if the job isn’t busy. In short, I adopted the work smarter, not harder mentality of working.
With those ideas in mind and struggling my first semester, I learned to set up a weekly date with myself to plan out my week. I tried several different methods and days to accomplish this and have gone through so many types of planners. I have finally streamlined my process and have used it all school year and have found it to be easy to use, quick and not a dreaded task each week.
I chose to have my weekly date on Friday mornings and spend 30 minutes completing this task. I sit down with my Outlook Calendar that is part of my work email, which saves me money and time since this is where my meetings and appointment calls are already plugged in—more about how to print that later. First, I review my week so far and see what I still need to accomplish that day. If there’s anything I can’t fit in that isn’t time sensitive, I just move it to the next week. Then, I start planning the week. I find it helps to create recurring tasks that I know I have every week to do—grading, email, reports, even my workouts and lunch time is plugged in since I will work straight through! I start with fixed time things like appointments from my personal calendar, times I meet with my students and classes, training sessions, meetings, etc. Next, I adjust any recurring tasks that may overlap or are flexible. Then, I look for gaps since some days are slower than others and can plug in projects or personal development tasks, I have on a backburner that I want to tackle. I do have blocks of time each week just for personal development and projects so I can continuously focus on refining my craft. Finally, I set work hours for each day and put them in the calendar, too. My hours vary from day to day since I have some early schools, late parent calls, my schools are on block schedules, so the time of classes changes every other day, so I flex my time.
Now, I am ready to print my schedule since I like to have a checklist. I simply choose the print option for my Outlook Calendar (Ctrl + P is the fastest way) and choose the weekly agenda style. Once printed, I like to highlight the day and hours I am working, then highlight the fixed appointments I can’t miss. I also white out the weekend days to create a notes section so as I think of tasks for next week or future project/personal development ideas, I can jot them down and address them on Friday and avoid getting lost in distraction.
The benefits of having this weekly date with yourself is helping to find a balance of your work and personal life. I do NOT work weekends and rarely work more than my 8-hour day unless I choose to. Plus, I only have to think about it one time, then it’s just checking things off or adding in scheduled calls to a block I already have set aside. This means I have less distractions and more time on task during my week, plus I can anticipate any gaps or conflicts by merging my work and personal calendars. Since I am not a morning person, this helps me start my day on task and organized, and I can eat that frog right away! (Not familiar with the Eat the Frog concept? Check out the blog post from last year here.)
A couple of other things I do along with this include filing that calendar page away in a folder just in case I ever have to show my work hours and tasks. Also, I reset my workspace daily by clearing my desk, and twice per week I clean my office and keep it decluttered since a busy day can make a huge mess!
In reflection, which of these practices do you already use? Which could you see yourself using? Do you still have questions or need more help? No problem! Comment below or find me on Twitter @AddictedtoTeac1 and in Facebook I have a group called Addicted to Teaching. I’d love to chat more and help you out!
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