10 Top Tips for Becoming an Organised Teacher
Part 1 of 3
One of the things we all could have more of as teachers is more time to get things done. It seems that there is always something or someone demanding our time when we just don’t have enough to share around. In fact, often as teachers we have piles of actionable items building up that we are responsible for on top of our core teaching duties.
Some of these might include organising excursions or camps, marking essays or exams, attending meetings, planning a new unit of work, collaborating on some project within your school site. Whatever it is, there is one thing that is clear: God is not going to increase the hours in the day to meet your work schedule.
And that’s pretty good actually. When you think about this from a glass half full perspective, it means that you’re going to have to figure out how to do more with less and in doing so, you will increase your efficiency and effectiveness. You might even find that you have some spare time to do things which are not teacher related! How cool is that?
So here are a few things that you should be thinking about to start winning back some time in your life, hopefully making your job more enjoyable and less stressful. I intend to drill down deeper into many of these items later, but for now here they are in simple form…
- Get organised by having a system! It’s really scary knowing the amount of folk out there who have absolutely no system and who go through their life like a steel ball in a pinball machine! Take control of your day by organising what happens in it. One of the best productivity books I have ever read is David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I highly recommend this book to you. In short, you need to have a system that prioritises your tasks and projects into actions that can be carried out to move the item towards completion. There is a vast array of traditional and digital tools that you can use to harness your system, from the pencil and notebook, to dedicated apps on your phone or computer. I promise you, this works!
- Have only one system! I have fallen into the trap of thinking more about the systems I have chosen to get organised, and all their bells and whistles, rather than actually working one simple effective system. Trust me, take my advice on this one. If it’s a pen and paper that works for you, that’s fine. Just don’t have two or three competing confusing systems where you end up getting lost in it all. .
- Make your system portable. Having a system is great – better a simple one! Even better is a portable system that you can carry around with you. I have tried a few different kinds, from really cool notebooks, like Moleskine, to high end computer apps. Whatever you use, make sure you understand how to use it. My system currently combines Gmail with Google Keep. This works for me because I can sync between platforms like my Chromebook and Android Phone and of course it’s portable. But hey, I could also carry a $1 notebook in my back pocket too. Systems don’t have to be expensive, but they have to be close by.
- Have a home for everything. When you implement your system, you will find lots of stuff that is currently in a place where it shouldn’t be. Start today to declutter your workspace or file those papers that have been sharing space with that other bunch of stuff. It is amazing how liberating a clean desk can be. It encourages more and more positive actions on your part. In the end, it’s difficult to organise yourself when you don’t know where everything is, so why not make that a priority for yourself?
Stay tuned for part 2 of 3 where we will continue with learning to deal with others when you are becoming an organised teacher.