A teacher’s to-do list will likely never be completed…There is so much to do and only a finite amount of time. In this post I am sharing teacher productivity tools you can use to manage your time more efficiently and stay productive at school (and home!).
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When the world shut down in 2020 for Corona-Virus, things were crazy and scary and down right awful.
But there was also a beauty I saw in it, too. I saw teachers (like my real-life teaching friends) slow down a bit.
One of my friends had only gone back to school after maternity leave a few weeks prior. All the sudden she had an extended (and more challenging) time with her and her son at home.
Please know that I am not trying to sugarcoat or ignore the absolute tragedy of the pandemic and how much it affected students across the country. I am angry and frustrated at the lack of leadership and investment in our education systems that resulted in so many kids being without proper access to school for weeks on end.
However, I also always try to see the light in the darkness. Those first few weeks, while we were all trying to figure a “new normal” out, people were able to spend more time with their families, reading, walking, enjoying nature, and so many other life-giving things.
Before 2020 life was so busy for many of us that we didn’t even know what the term “slow down” meant. 2020 forced us all to slow down and I don’t want us to miss out on what we learned during that time.
Teaching in 2020 wasn’t easy, I know! But there was beauty in it. We spent more time with our families and all the “extras” were stripped away. The things that really mattered were the only things that existed.
Now that school is back in session, I want teachers to be able to still find some of that “me time” in the midst of a busier season.
In this post I am sharing some of my favorite productivity tools for teachers as well as answering that question we all seem to be asking… “how do I spend less time at school?”
Teacher Productivity Tools
Below are 10 of my favorite teacher productivity tools along with a description of why I love it or think it’s helpful.
PowerSheets Goal Planning Journal
One problem I continuously see with teachers is not prioritizing self. These goal planning journals are a great way to set goals (big or little) at home and at work. Here’s a recap on how you can use them as a teacher.
Create Intentional To-Do Lists
Stop wasting time and energy creating to-do lists that never get done. I got rid of my “Sunday Scaries” by implementing a better to-do list routine and I break it all down in the free training.
Teacher Outfit Formulas
You know you teach better when you feel better! These Outfit Formulas save you sooo much time (and money) at home and help you feel your best while teaching your kiddos. Here’s some outfit ideas here!
Erin Condren Lesson Planners
Everyone needs a quality lesson planner that they can keep track of lessons, grades, rosters, and other important information. Erin Condren Teacher Planners are my favorite. They have options to customize and the paper quality is on point!
My first year of teaching I struggled to keep time with my students. I always gave them more time and they started to take advantage. I wish I would have known about these timers! Time Timers are a great visual way to keep you and your students on track with lessons and activities.
Meal Prep Service
Another huge time saver is a service like Prep Dish which sends you weekly meal plans along with all the ingredients that need to be prepped. Just spend a couple of hours on the weekend prepping all your meals for the week and save so much time during the week!
Another mistake I made in my first-year was making 40 copies of station papers for my class of 15 kids. I wanted to make sure they always had a copy of the paper. The cherry on top? I never even looked at their finished work. Then…I found these plastic sleeves! They save so much paper and time when prepping center activities.
Classroom Paper Organization Course
How much time do you waste trying to find where you put a paper or where you should put a paper? This mini-course will help you create paper organization routines so you can save time in your classroom.
Classroom Organization Master Class
Classroom Organization can feel really overwhelming and a lot of teachers are unsure of where to start. Inside this 30 minute e-course I teach you the 6 things you must-have for creating an organized classroom + help you break it down in a downloadable workbook.
Sub Planning Made Simple
Maybe you need to take a day off work so you can get some things taken care of in your personal life. I’m sure that feels impossible, because that’s how it felt for me. Until I worked out a sub planning system that allowed me to prep my plans and materials in under 30 minutes. In this training, I teach you how to do it too!
How to Spend Less Time at School?
That’s a question we are all asking, isn’t it?
Or maybe it’s “how do I spend less time working on school stuff?”
Either way, teachers are always trying to find ways to work less because we spend SO many hours at school or working on school stuff from the comfort of our couch.
I know you know this, but I just want to remind you that your work will be there for you tomorrow. You don’t have to get it all done today.
Sometimes I think about my husband’s job and how easily he is able to say “it’s 5:00, I’m off work” and close the computer for the day. I’ve rarely ever seen him open up his computer after the work day is over (except, of course, for last night LOL 😂 but it was very unusual for him).
His job is important. Is it educating kids? No. But it is how he makes money and provides for our family. So it IS important that he accomplish things, right?
But he has no problem shutting it down at the end of the day.
Why do we, as teachers, have such a hard time leaving work with the knowledge that it can get done tomorrow?
The “secret” to spending less time at school (or working on school stuff) is twofold.
- First, you need boundaries
- Secondly, it comes down to routines and structures
These two things ^^^ will not make your workload less or take things off your plate. But it will give you the structure and framework you need to make the most of your time and be able to turn off work at the end of the day without feeling guilty
One of the first lessons inside The Organized Teacher Framework™ is on establishing boundaries because if we don’t take time to actually think them through and write them down, it is likely that we won’t enforce them.
Take a peek inside The Framework to see what I’m talking about!
Some boundaries you want to consider are:
- What time you will leave work most days?
- Which days (one, max two) will you stay late (or show up early) to get extra work done?
- How much time will you spend after the kids leave socializing with other teachers?
- What’s your lunch policy…eat in the lounge? Eat by yourself and recharge? Work during lunch so you can leave earlier? Lunch with kids, yay or nay?
- Money…how much money are you willing to spend on your classroom and/or students? (Head here for tips on managing finances as a teacher.)
Create Routines and Structures
Routines, structure, and organization all play into how productive you are with your time at school.
The more routines you have, the less decisions you have to make about what to do and when. Some helpful resources on establishing routines:
- Daily Student Routines to Help with Organization
- Interview with Bridget Spackman on Daily Teacher Routines
- 10 Time Management Routines for Teachers
The more structure you have, the quicker you can do things because you already have a workflow for it. Some helpful resources on creating strutures are:
- How to Write Lesson Plans Quickly with this Workflow
- Create a Student Paper Workflow with this free download
- How to Set Up a Classroom in an Organized Way
The more organization you have in your classroom, the easier it is to find things and know where things belong. Here are a few popular resources to getting organized:
- 5 Tips for Staying Organized in the Classroom
- Classroom Organization Master Class
- 4 Ways to Conquer the Classroom Paper Mess
- How to Organize Digital Files
Classroom Organization Master Class
The biggest key to spending less time at work is by being organized, physically and mentally.
Inside The Classroom Organization Master Class I will teach you the structures and routines you need for establishing an organized classroom that lasts all year long.
Boosting productivity comes down to creating structures and routines that take away a lot of the decision making you must do in a day.
Be sure to check out these teacher productivity tools to help you make the most use of your time.
- How to Create Intentional To-Do Lists free training
- Prep Dish- a meal prep service
- Organize Classroom Papers with this course
- Sub Plans Made Simple course
- Set personal and work related goals with the PowerSheet Goal Planner
- Save time and money when getting ready in the morning with the Outfit Formulas
- Erin Condren Teacher Planners
- Time Timer
- Plastic Sleeves for station activities
- Learn the 6 must-haves for organization in the Classroom Organization Master Class
Until next time,