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Productivity Hacks for Your Planning Time

Busy teachers need these simple tips and strategies to ramp up productivity during their planning time. New teachers and seasoned teachers benefit from using their time wisely.

Ok, admit it. 

There’s been a time or two that you’ve fiddled around and wasted your planning time.

I’ve been there.

How many times have you glanced at the clock to find you’ve only got a few minutes of precious planning time remaining?

And you realize you’ve spent too way much time on low-priority tasks without completing tomorrow’s lesson that should have been done first!

That’s when you kick it into high gear – deadline mode – and get more done in 5 minutes than you did the whole rest of the planning time.

What if there was a way to harness that speed and efficiency to get things done more quickly all the time?

Cluttered teacher desk showing a teacher who needs productivity tips and hacks

News flash! There are ways. 

And they’re easy enough that you can make them a regular part of your daily or weekly routine. Follow these simple tips and strategies for ramping up productivity during your planning time.

Productivity Hacks

1. Eliminate or reduce distractions. That includes our phones, email, staff room, teacher besties, and hidden stashes of candy and snacks. Do your best to keep your desk organized and clear of clutter.

2. Make a list. Write down what you need to do every day (or week). Then, rank those tasks in order of importance. 

Teacher holding copies of lesson plans and papers

3. Batch similar tasks together and do them all at once. Our brains function better when focusing on one thing at a time because it reduces the mental effort of switching back and forth between different tasks.

For example, if you need to make lots of copies, use sticky notes to mark the pages.  Then, make all your copies at the same time. I kept a little box full of paper clips, Wite-Out, sticky notes, a pencil, and a pen to carry with me to the copier. I paper-clipped my copies as soon as they were printed. 

Also, have a pre-determined spot to keep all your copies after they’re printed. There’s nothing worse than misplacing them and having to scrounge around while your class descends into chaos. 

4. Write down every single step for completing each one of those tasks that you must complete. Then turn those steps into a checklist of simple action steps. Be sure that your checklist is easy to follow so you won’t forget a step. The goal of the checklist is to reduce the number of decisions and planning you have to do. We want to cruise through the tasks while saving our mental energy for other important tasks.

5. Assign times/dates to tasks – be sure to list the time of day or what day of the week you’ll do them. 

By making these decisions ahead of time, you won’t waste precious time figuring them out again in the future. 

teacher who is distressed because she forgot to finish something

Of course, you should revise your task list whenever it’s not working well for you. But having a to-do list ready each day or each week will help you get right to work without wasting time. And you’ll be less likely to forget important steps.

Last, before leaving each day, try making a quick 1-2-3 list of the first three things you need to get done the next day. I need to conserve all the precious brain power I can in the mornings! Morning brains sometimes function a bit slower, right? So do your future self a favor and jot down three tasks or goals for the next day before you leave for the day.

Looking for more teaching time-savers and organization tips?

You’ll want to check out these blog posts for more ideas.

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