A couple of weeks ago, my season ended. I coach freshman girls’ basketball and, after more than three months of long days and late nights spent emphasizing the importance of BOTH feet leaving the ground when one jumps and explaining that you don’t need to say ‘I’m sorry’ EVERY time you make contact with another player, I finally had my afternoons free.
At first, this was amazing. It was found time! I picked up the guitar again, took long walks with my dog (in the daylight! J), and even took a nap or two.
Now, it’s only weeks later, but my days are packed again. ‘Tis the season for IEPs, teacher evaluations, parent-teacher conferences, club sponsorships, and committee meetings—not to mention a very important March Madness pool and a milestone birthday!
When things get busy, I do my best to maximize my time both at work and outside of work. A few simple strategies work well for me:
1.Exercise before school. Get it done and get energized for the whole day! I can usually get myself up and out the door before my brain is awake enough to convince my body that it doesn’t want to. The net time spent in the exercising routine is minimized when it is the first thing you do when you roll out of bed. Extra bonus: The dog gets exercise, too!
2. Make a list: I am a stacker and a list-er. Keep lists based on when the ‘stuff’ needs to be done. I usually have daily lists in a planner and then a more long term list. This strategy eliminates time spent wondering what I should do next and helps me to avoid forgetting something important. It also gives me a sense of accomplishment as I work throughout the day! Sometimes I even add things to the list after I’ve done them just so I get the satisfaction of crossing it off.
3.Maximize your ‘down’ time: What’s a lunch hour? I bring my own lunch and I graze throughout the day. During my scheduled lunch and plan periods, I steadily chip away at my lists. Sometimes, our office becomes a social place if multiple coworkers share a lunch period. When this happens, I am not above putting in my ear buds to drown out the noise and discourage potential small talk-ers. It is important not to do this all of the time, however, or you will earn an antisocial reputation.
4. Delegate: This is something I sometimes struggle with. I have such respect for my coworkers that I sometimes feel strange asking for them to make copies for me, deliver something, or do other things like that. However, I need to remember that the paraprofessionals like to be busy and doing something useful! Often, they don’t mind doing something like that as long as they don’t feel like they are doing it all of the time. Another idea is to give students jobs to complete these types of tasks.
5. Cooperate: I have wonderful paraprofessionals in my classroom who are well-qualified and capable—I just have to let them know what I am looking for or what I am trying to accomplish. Sometimes I start explaining an idea, and they take it and run with it! More heads are better than one. This is especially helpful when I have an idea and not a specific vision.
6. Steal: Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to! I search YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest if I have a nebulous idea or need inspiration. Often, I find something I can recreate or tweak just a little bit to fit my needs.
How do you maximize your time at work? Please share any tips or tricks that you think might help others. Thanks for reading!