By Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., author of Self-Regulation in the Classroom: Helping Students Learn How to Learn
Part of our Cash in on Learning series by Richard M. Cash, Ed.D. Click to read other Cash in on Learning posts.
We’ve now ushered one year out and embarked on a new one. Maybe, like me, you did some reflecting as the new year began. I often take some time during the transition from one year to the next to reflect on my accomplishments and consider what I’ll need for a rewarding and successful year to come. Over the past two years, we’ve all felt the stresses and trauma of the pandemic—and this continues. In the midst of the pressures, there’s one thing I know teachers need to be successful in 2022:
Time is the major commodity teachers find in limited supply. Whether it’s time to plan, time to learn, or time to simply relax, there just is not enough of it. While there is no magic formula, I have some suggestions on how to manage and make the most of the limited amount of time you do have.
List and set priorities. Make a list of all that needs to be accomplished and then prioritize the list. Work on those things that are most critical first and leave less important tasks for later. It’s best to create this list early in the morning, so you have the full day to get things done.
Minimize the media. It’s so easy to get tangled up in social media! Sometimes taking a break from mundane tasks and going to social media can be mentally relaxing. However, to be sure you don’t overindulge (and lose precious time and energy), set a timer to limit how long you’re online. It’s amazing how much time we can squander on those apps.
Avoid the email trap. Reserve some time each day (say 45–60 minutes) to go through your email. When something is urgent, respond accordingly. Be judicious about what’s “urgent,” though. Sometimes it’s best to ponder a response, rather than respond in haste—especially when the email is emotion-laden.
Take breaks! It’s essential to schedule in time to take breaks. Just like those of our students, adults’ brains need regular pauses from work tasks. While taking a 10-minute mental break every 30–45 minutes may sound like a lot, surprisingly, it can make you more productive. You are likely to accomplish more in less time by planning and taking mental breaks.
Prepare yourself for work tasks. Be sure your workspace is organized, that you have all the resources you will need at your fingertips, and potential distractions are at a minimum.
Pace your PD. We all need to keep abreast of the professional development required to do our jobs well. A benefit coming out of the pandemic is that so many professional development opportunities are now available virtually. My suggest is to “chunk” the online development sessions into 15–30-minute segments. If possible, you may be able to listen to sessions while driving or riding transportation.
Limit alcohol consumption. I love a good glass of wine or two to unwind, but I’m careful not to go beyond that. Next day’s productivity goes down with each additional drink.
Schedule time in your day just for you. Even a small amount of “you time” can help keep you refreshed. Exercise, meditate, get involved in a good book, or take a nap (my favorite!). No matter how much you must do, if you are not healthy and well rested, you won’t accomplish what you need to accomplish.
To ensure our students’ success, we have to be on top of our game. There are only 24 hours in a day. How you plan, organize, and use those hours can make all the difference.
Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., writes the monthly Cash in on Learning blog posts for Free Spirit Publishing. He has given hundreds of workshops, presentations, and staff development sessions throughout the United States and internationally.
Free Spirit books by Richard Cash:
We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.