Teaching is a job that never ends.

An English teacher has a substantial workload each weekend. Rightly so, in many ways. One Headteacher said that every lesson requires an hour before and an hour afterwards of preparation and assessment. In practice, this time varies. A timed essay by my Year 11 class takes upwards of three hours to mark. Controlled Assessment even more so.  That three hours is intense, too: it cannot be marked while watching TV or football, for example.

However, working incessantly each weekend is not possible. People who work in the city (lower case) may work 70-80 hour weeks. However, the rewards for this are substantial. In addition, this kind of working lifestyle is not expected to be sustained over an entire career. Working for this amount of time without the awareness of your physical and mental limits is only a recipe for burnout.

Time management is not taught explicitly to teachers. It is not part of the culture I read on the TES, or hear of on PGCE courses. Time management is not taught to students. I wonder why.

Time management, as I’ve said before, is different in a school environment. Fairly frequently it is essential to waste time on those things deemed trivial to the school community at large (and to the teacher) but are important to the student themselves. There are also many initiatives and requirements that teachers are required to perform, often at short notice. The morning briefing, for example, requires teachers to listen to 10-15 different messages that may require them to change their plans for that day.

Time management requires different techniques. Broadly, for me, they are:

1) Doing things ASAP when they are received, often immediately. (Often most useful is it can be completed in 2 minutes or less.)
2) Scheduling things to be completed via a calendar. (Usually tasks that are unpleasant and/or difficult to start.)
3) Having a to-do list of tasks from which work can be allocated depending on how I feel. (Most tasks that have a best-before date.)

I find all time management methods to be derivative of these three techniques. They all follow one principle, though: time management is doing things at the right time.

Routine is an essential aspect of surviving, and thriving, as a teacher. So much work is arduous and relatively complex, often requiring completion while managing a room of teenagers. Without routine, such work often is either not started, or is granted too much, or too little, time.  Examples of routine tasks are lesson planning, formative assessment, setting reading targets and more.

I’ll say a little more about each of these methods. Suffice to say, today will be a day of working through my to-do list of tasks using My Life Organized. www.mylifeorganized.net