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TM4T Background 0.3 - What's in it for me?

So far, we have sketched out a definition of TM4T and listed a few key principles.

These principles are all fairly abstract, and it is time to spell out exactly what a teacher should do to achieve good time management, and - more important - to make it completely clear why they should do it.

To manage their time effectively, teachers should do the following four things.
  • They should choose what they are going to do before they do it? (Control)
  • They should decide how and when they are going to do things (Planning)
  • They should decide how much time to spend on each task, and which order to do tasks in (Prioritisation)
  • They should modify and vary the timing, method and sequence of tasks to reduce their duration (Efficiency)

Of course, each of these four things can be achieved in a variety of ways, and each teacher may choose a different way to achieve them. However, regardless of how they are achieved, all four are necessary to achieve good time management.

Many teachers may feel that this sounds like quite a lot of work. We should therefore be clear about whether this work is worth doing - 'why do we bother with time management?' Here are the eventual benefits we are seeking:

  • If we have greater control, this reduces the likelihood of stress

  • If we plan, we achieve our goals more reliably

  • If we prioritise what is genuinely important, we reduce the likelihood of conflict

  • If we are more efficient at work, this gives us more time to do the things we want to do


Let me just repeat the last one, in bold:  If we are more efficient at work, this gives us more time to do the things we want to do.

For many - maybe most - teachers, the preceding paragraph is absolutely critical. Teachers should not practice time management in order to cram even more work into their lives, to please their managers or help their students. They should do it to improve their lives – they should do it for themselves. If you approach time management with what I call the P=H perspective, you may very well be disappointed.

P=H abbreviates the deeply flawed notion that productivity=happiness. This view of life is common in the business world. The most successful people (financially successful, that is) invariably practice excellent time-management and achieve startling productivity. Therefore, according to this flawed logic, in order to be happy we need to be successful, in order to be successful we need to be productive, and in order to be productive we need to manage our time. The flaw, of course, lies in the belief that happiness lies solely in productivity. I'm afraid life isn't that easy.

The techniques on this site can result in gaining you more free time in your life. However, it will require effort from you to change the way you work, and if necessary, to change your motivation. The best way to ensure success is to have a clear goal. How are you going to use the time that you gain from effective time-management?

Two paragraphs ago, I make the bold statement that teachers should practice time management to 'improve their lives'. You need to be really clear on what this actually means:

Time management can help to reduce stress by improving your effectiveness and efficiency and to let you use your time on Earth as meaningfully and productively as possible. We aim to reduce stress in two specific ways. Firstly, by making you feel more in control of your life. Secondly, by enabling you to be more productive; this gives you have more time to relax away from the worries of work.

Good time management demands that you become results-orientated, but happiness will not follow if 'results' just implies financial reward and yet more work.  You need to focus on achieving specific, meaningful goals, not just on being busy.

TM4T techniques should enable you to:

  • Be aware of the value of time (which may vary) and be aware of how effectively you are using it;
  • Differentiate between operational tasks which are part of the bread-and-butter routine of teaching; and which are project work, which you choose to do, or are obliged to do, as part of your role. You can plan your non-routine work so that these projects are done well and on time, without impacting your operational tasks.
  • Create more time to relax, more time to enjoy life outside teaching, more time for YOU
  • Manage and avoid distractions and delays
  • Increase your productivity and personal effectiveness
  • Keep things in in perspective when you feel overwhelmed by work
  • Feel in control of what you are doing.

In summary, TM4T is an essential set of skills for a teacher that help you to take control of your life, and work efficiently and effectively. By working effectively you improve your confidence in yourself, and can still have time to do what you enjoy outside teaching. This can help to significantly reduce work-related stress.

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