TM4T - Time Management Basics 7: Fixing

Logs and clocks would seem to represent the opposite of good time management: displacement activity wasting time rather than saving it and simply distracting a busy teacher from what they should really be doing. Well... yes; tackled in the wrong way, that is exactly what happens.  However, if you retain some common sense and ignore some professional advice, then the results can be remarkable. Here's some tips for fixing your time-problems based on a log.

1. Don't agonise over detail; log only to a level of detail which will give you benefit, then stop.

2. Don't over analyse your data. Real problems and opportunities tend to be glaringly obvious eg 'What am I doing with the other 24 hours each week?'.

3. Don't over-emphasize the 'urgent-important' thing. Again, most issues will be obvious eg 'I should really spend more time with my kids'.

4. Develop a mental map of where you have control, and where you don't. This is not always obvious. 'Directed time' is a misnomer: most teachers have way more control over what they do than the school leadership; student-facing time, though, is rarely under your control - in practice, what you do is dictated by your students. Similarly, some apparently voluntary tasks (visiting relatives, offspring's sporting events) may be in fact entirely compulsory.

5. Give a bit of thought to maintenance activities (shopping, laundry, cleaning etc) and consider how to save time sensibly, or to combine time-consuming tasks sensibly with other things. The obvious examples are best: listening to the news while ironing, etc

6. Give a lot of thought to dead time. Many teachers struggle with weekly mapping, and encounter the 'missing 24 hours' issue. You may find that time is simply unconsciously soaked up in unwinding. This is fine in itself, but you are likely to find you unwind better if you do so consciously, considering and choosing the best way to do it.

7. Look at habits logically, and change those which consume valuable time.