TM4T - Time Management Basics 13: Transitions

When you have a  basic plan for your week, it will consist of a sequence of individual activities eg 'teaching Y10 algebra', 'marking Y9 tests', 'dentists'.  When we plan our time, the activities themselves - the actual things we are planning - are inevitably the focus (oops foci) of our attention.

It is worthwhile paying some attention to the transitions between the events in your plan. These are typically 'dead' time, which contribute nothing to your longer-term goals, and can act as demotivators and stressors. Examples include 'waiting for students to arrive', 'looking for a pen', 'queuing for a ticket', 'sitting in the waiting room' and so on.

You should...
a) seek to reduce unproductive time where possible (you may notice a lot of phrases like 'where possible' and 'perhaps' and 'if feasible' in this section)
b) look for ways to do two things at once. Maybe mark books while waiting at the dentists. Maybe read the paper while boiling a kettle and making toast? Yes.. and brush your hair at the same time? No - it's easy to take this stuff to excess - DON'T.
c) look at your lifestyle goals and see what opportunities are offered: there are usually ways to occupy dead-time involving perhaps exercise, tranquility, reading, or brainstorming ideas.

You will find that consideration of transitions leads naturally to broader consideration of efficiency: reducing the number of trips to the school office, planning the photo-copying a bit more sensibly, combining tasks which naturally go together (but DON'T adopt 'multitasking' as a way of life, or expect great benefits from it).

There are lots of life-tips on the Web in this category; here's a selection.

1. Keep a little folder of things-to-read with you at all times.
2. Cut down on addictive treats like coffee and chocolate; they are simply ways to kill time.
3. Find quiet places to work during dead-time, with work (reading, marking) already waiting there
4. Use ways (headphones, avoiding eye contact) to discourage conversation and distraction
5. Don't look up every time someone comes near. Shut your door if possible.

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