Managing Your Time Effectively

How I get it all done in 3 simplified steps

Sonya Barnes August 1, 2019

Effective time management.  Good use of time.  We hear these buzz phrases often and we know what it means, but many of us struggle with the application and concept of what it looks like.  I’ve been blessed to work with and for several people that were great at this and trained me well.  I feel like I handle it pretty well, even though I still have my moments of lost days and utter confusion of what to do.  But I have taken several things from several places over the years and implemented them for awhile now and am quite proud that I have very few occasions of missing or forgetting something.  I have shared these with fellow educators over the years and thought I’d get this out there and share with a few more.  I will break it into a few different sections for easy application and will also create videos that break each step down into a visual, allowing you time to work them into your daily life so that you can not only get everything done that you need to, but also get more enjoyment out of life since you’ll accomplish more and stress less. So, without further ado, let’s jump in!

A generic version of my time zones – be as specific as you need to be!

Step 1: Assigning “Time Zones” Start with a weekly calendar that breaks each day down by hour increments.  Whether you find/create a digital version or create a paper one just comes down to your own preference.  Next, choose three different color markers or highlighters and assign a category.  I like to use green for WORK, blue for HOME, and pink for FAMILY/PERSONAL for association, but any color will work.  If you need to add additional categories such as self-care or a second job, then absolutely do so.  The final step in this category is to go through and color outline (or color fill if you are using a computer) and assign the times.  I usually start with my job since those hours are pretty set.  Then, I go through and sort out the remaining time for when I will complete home responsibilities like cleaning, cooking, errands, paying bills, etc. as well as the family/personal time for workouts, date nights, family outings.  There will be some weeks that this will vary, but for most of us, our weeks we are working are fairly straightforward.  I try and generalize this step so I can hang it on the wall, and it makes it easier to glance when I need to schedule something or decide whether to say yes or no to an invitation to something.

A simple post it in my planner reminds me of my tasks by day

Step 2: Assigning Task Days Now that I have my weekly calendar time zones figured out,  I can plug in my tasks.  If you are like me, you have some tasks at both work and home that are repetitive daily, weekly, or monthly.  Now is the time to go through and plug in when you will complete which tasks.  For example, in my job, I have lesson plans, copying, grading, parent phone calls, duty and meetings that routinely occur, so I assign them a day and time of day to do them.  I also will plug in a spot for monthly tasks to have a day, as well, such as data collecting or student chats so that they have a recurring time.  I do the same for home responsibilities like laundry, cleaning, yard work, shopping and bill paying.  I also like to leave a place holder spot for appointments so that I can plug in a doctor, dentist or hair appointment into that spot and it keeps the flow of our routine for everyone.  Family or personal time can get marked with a workout regiment or sports activities you routinely accomplish or would like to work in but have never found the time to do.

Digitizing everything into my Reminders app as weekly recurring tasks or calendar items can help on those super busy days

Step 3: Organizing and Digitizing It All This final step is crucial to making it stick and turn into a habit that will keep you organized and running a bit smoother.  In this step, I add the tasks to my digital calendar and invite relevant parties.  For example, recurring household chores or appointments get logged and I invite my spouse and children that have devices.  Personal or work-related tasks get added to my own calendar, but my family has viewing permissions of my calendar so that if they have something come up they need to schedule at an unexpected time, they know exactly how it fits into the schedule.  If you are not a tech savvy person or don’t use a digital calendar, then you can mark this in your lesson plan book, day planner or on a family command center calendar, or even just something as simple as hanging your color-coded and filled in schedule on the refrigerator or by the family calendar can help keep everyone informed.  Without placing this information somewhere that you will see it and be able to reference it, you will find it difficult to stick to it.  With my teaching tasks, I will write it on a post it note and tape it to my computer for a few weeks while I get into the routine, especially since it may vary from year to year, depending on my classroom assignments or month to month depending on my duty schedule.

This may seem like a very rigid and difficult thing to accomplish, but it will lend itself to a much less stressful daily life and a much higher productivity level.  I have been running this model for a few years now and have found that I take less work home with me, get more time with my family, and never miss deadlines.  All of these contribute to a happier and less stressful life.  It may take some tweaking to get it down to something that works with your lifestyle and if you don’t have as many directions to go in, you may be able to simplify some of it for your own habits.  Whatever you do, I hope that this helps you manage your time much more effectively.

If you are interested in the step by step videos to accomplish this, head over to YouTube and subscribe to my channel to get notified. I will have a video breaking down each step posted on Sunday, August 4th. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCupISfBEejlSrXzNPDhN7cg?view_as=subscriber

Can’t Find It? Create It!

Guest Post by Allison Alexander July 22, 2019

This is a guest post by a friend and colleague that told me about her experience with creating a planner of her own when she couldn’t find what she was looking for and was kind enough to share her process with me so that I could share with you! Happy reading…and creating!

Let me start by saying that I am terrible when it comes to lesson planning. I have a very hard time keeping up with a planner and a calendar. I tend to forget to look at it and it becomes another paper weight on my desk. However, I always want to improve myself and work on my weaknesses, so I decided that this year I would vow to keep up with a calendar and planner. I started searching for the ideal planner, but in my search discovered that it was either too expensive, or did not meet my needs. I found a majority of teacher planners were geared towards elementary school teachers and I am a high school teacher. This is when I decided to make a list of what I would want/need in a planner. I knew I needed to be realistic with myself as far as what I was most likely to keep up with. My list included a monthly calendar for an overview and important dates, a weekly calendar for the nitty gritty daily details, to-do lists, parent contact lists and meeting notes. I decided to use Microsoft Publisher to create my own planner. I wanted something I could decorate myself, as I find adult coloring very relaxing. With this in mind, I kept the design very simple, with outlined letters I could doodle in and a design I could color myself. I searched for a mandala coloring page in the image search feature and used that as the focal point of my cover page. (I made sure the image I selected did not violate any copyright rules.) made a first page with room for my contact information and my daily schedule.

Next I decided I needed a monthly calendar. I could have chosen a pre-made calendar, but I decided to do my own so I could control the amount of space I would have to write in. This is where I made an error that I did not discover until after I had the printed copy in hand. I did not make enough room for the last week of the month! So my best friend, Sondra, who requested a copy of the planner, came up with the BRILLIANT idea that we not work the last week of the month! We can’t work that week if it does not exist, right?  I wanted the calendar to span two pages, to make plenty of room to write. I purposely left off Saturday and Sunday made those columns reserved for notes.

I wanted my weekly calendars laid out similarly in a two-page spread.


Since I love to make check off lists, I decided to include a section of to-do lists.

I also wanted a convenient place to log parent contacts. I included a place for a date, student name, type of communication: email/phone/text, and reason for contact.

I made the last section of my planner for Meeting Notes.

Once I had the sections and pages that I wanted, I decided to have it professionally printed and bound. I have had experience with Staples copy and print services before, so that is where I went to explore.  They have a presentation and manuals section, so I went there and chose “Pro-Presentations and Manuals”. This gave me the option of having it coil bound and having a clear plastic cover. I also chose a cardstock back cover, but could have selected a vinyl back cover. I saved my Publisher document as a PDF file to upload it to the Staples website so I could set up the print job. I had the option of adding tabs to separate the sections. It was in setting up the tabs that I realized that I would need to add additional pages so that my two-page calendar spreads would print correctly.  I decided to search for more mandala coloring pages and added those in.

I had the option of what type of paper to use to print the pages. I ended up choosing 32lb cotton paper, so that the pages would be heavier than copy paper, but not as heavy as card stock. I paid extra for the nicer paper, (about a $10 difference in total cost) but I think it was definitely worth the extra money. The total cost of the planner was $33.10.

If you didn’t want to have it professionally printed, you could print it yourself and put it in a 3-ring binder, or Staples can bind it for you for a small fee. I am very pleased with the outcome!

Check out this video to see a flip-through of the completed product.

This video is posted with permission on my YouTube channel. Don’t forget to go to the channel to like this video, as well as subcribe to my channel for more videos or to check out past videos!

Bio:

My name is Allison Alexander and I have been teaching math for 20 years in the Polk County Public School district. I have experience teaching all levels of math from 6th-12th grade. I became National Board certified in Adolescent/Young Adulthood Mathematics in 2006. I was also the math department chairperson for 6 years at Auburndale High School before moving on to a different school. I currently teach 10th-12th grade math at Winter Haven High School.