When I started this job as a teacher, I knew that the planners I had designed and used for my work as an IT consultant weren’t going to work as they were.
Today I will share with you the system that I use at school (work) and how I designed it.
Where I Was
As a consultant, my work was project-based, and I had to track hours. So my work planner had pages for each client and project, plus a log file of each task that I could also note the hours on. I was then able to quickly generate both my timesheets and my weekly status reports.
With teaching, it is a different ball game. I am teaching three ninety-minute classes per day, with five minutes in between. Every day I have two hours for my planning block and lunch. It isn’t possible to do anything other than teach when I am in class. During my planning period I have to make the best use of my time, or I end up working too long after hours, or even worse at home.
Most of my tasks are focused on classes: planning the lesson, preparing the materials, wrestling with the @#!$ photocopier, delivering the lesson, grading the papers, evaluating the learning going on so I can adjust the next day’s lesson.
Most of the rest of the tasks come in via email, usually tucked into far too much text or sandwiched into the 10 page newsletter that comes out every Monday and I have no time to read. These can include things like providing feedback on student accomodations, compiling data, planning future lessons for my teaching team, or writing up discipline paperwork.
The last bunch of tasks are generated as I am teaching. These may include things like additional posters for Calculator Corner, reprint worksheets, add extra credit to our online site,
I started the year using an on-line task manager. But what I found is that things got lost. And I wasn’t necessarily working on the things that I needed to do most, first.
So what to do? The first thing was I took stock of where I was. I noted where the tasks were coming from. Then I noted the way that I work. I need a prioritized list of things I need to get done that I can quickly work through, while at the same time putting the same tasks together.
So I modified my forms pages – the same ones that I give out to my readers every month – to make it work.
The Task List
The first thing I did was make a page that would allow me to list every task I have to do. I just write them down, noting any due dates.
I designed this form to be written sideways so that I had more room to give details. I also changed the decoration to black and white so that I could print them on the &@*#$ photocopier at work.
The Daily Page
Before I leave school for the day, I make my page for the next day. I use the must/want/like model to determine things I absolutely have to do, the things I want to do, and the things I would like to do.
I made this form with a black and white picture that was a favorite of mine, again so I can print them on the @#$% photocopier.
(Yes, I have issues with the photocopier. It is the most stressful part of my job. In the past twelve weeks I have delved into the insides of a copier more times than I have in my total career previously. I have kicked it, which seemed to get it to behave. Possession by spirits have not been ruled out.)
Using The System
So I add tasks to the task list as they come up. Then I go through the list before I leave for the day and add at least three tasks to my must do list. Here are pictures of what these sheets look like filled in.
When the kids exit my room at 10:25, I immediately bring out the planner and plan the next two hours. I make sure that I group like tasks, and then get to work.
I’ve been very happy with this customization of typical productivity forms. It fits the way I work, and allows me to get things done without wasting time going through lists. I just hit it and go.
I usually manage to get everything I need to done during my planning block.
Over To You
How would customizing standard methods and forms help you be more productive? Share below.