Productivity is in the Planning
I am a procrastinator. I have a warped sense of time. I am perpetually late. I am so easily distracted. I am a social butterfly. And sometimes, I have a hard time finishing projects that I start. This may mean that I have ADD or ADHD or some other acronymed disorder. But it also means that I have to try harder than most people to actually sit down and get things done.
I have a planner and I love this planner because it's cute and super helpful. But it's not just because of the design or the inside that I love. I also get the absolute best and most useful newsletters from the creator of this planner once or twice a month that include lots of tips on how to increase productivity and feelings of positivity.
Back in April of this year, one of the productivity tips CHANGED. MY. LIFE. I learned about a practice called "time-boxing" and have been using it ever since. The idea is simple: Take the tasks from your to-do list and put them into your calendar or agenda to complete at a specific time. Some helpful information on time-boxing can be found here, here, and here (all shared in the newsletter).
This sounds ridiculously easy and obvious. But if you're like me, just because you have a to-do list does not mean you're going to get all of it, or any of it, done. However, the simple act of putting these tasks into the schedule section of my planner has helped me actually get more work done. My productivity has increased ten-fold.
As teachers, you are very aware of time constraints. Perhaps one of the worst ones is planning periods! Whether you get 30 minutes or 90 minutes, it never seems enough. I know, as a former teacher myself, that sometimes you have meetings or conferences during these times and there's nothing you can do about that. But on the days that your planning period is truly yours, make the BEST out of it!
Here are some steps to begin using time-boxing during your planning!
Consider how much time you have.
Write out your to-do list.
Draw out a schedule or use your planner.
Think about how much time a task should take.
Break large tasks down into smaller actions.
Add tasks into your schedule.
Don't forget to add in breaks. 5 or 10 minutes to listen to your favorite song, take a walk down the hall, or read a few pages in a book. Plan on NOT doing any school work.
Give yourself a box of time where you can check in with a teammate or socialize with a teacher-friend, but SET AN ALARM and get back to work when it's over.
Allow a few minutes at the end so you're ready for your students when they arrive.
If I had come across this tip when I was teaching, I would have been able to cut my after-school work time in half at least.
Try this out and see how it goes! If it works, see what would happen to those teacher work days!