Every now and then I get caught up in reading “productivity posts” – posts on how to be efficient, get everything done and feel good. I’ve never quite figured out the secret behind that.
The trouble is, these posts always seem to be for entrepreneurs, or at least for people who work in an office.
But I’m a teacher.
The most recent post I read is a very impressive and detailed one : The Complete Guide to Productivity by Sean Kim. He writes well and I enjoyed reading it. Surely you can relate to the attraction of lines such as the following: “If you would like to make more effective use of your time, maintain your energy levels throughout the day, and achieve your goals faster — read on”. I did and I’m impressed . However, which of his suggestions can work for me, as a teacher?
For starters, the points about scheduling are interesting. I have no control over my school weekly schedule, though interestingly, most of the lessons are scheduled in segments of 45 minutes. Theoretically then, after every two lessons (the 90 minute cycle) I need a break (according to the article). Which I get, sometimes. Other times, I rush to photocopy something, talk to the home room teacher or a student, or do paperwork. If no one is misbehaving, yard duty can be a semi break… The breaks are not 30 minutes long, that’s for sure!
It’s a dilemma. If I sit and chat during the breaks I will be more relaxed. But that comes at the cost of bringing home more work that must be done in the evening!
I’m at complete odds with the author regarding the morning routine! For starters, cold showers are unthinkable! Whose with me on this? But I also can’t handle the “don’t check your email in the morning” advice either. Sean Kim makes a great case for not doing it, but enjoying my email and social media feeds over breakfast, before school is a great way to start the day for me. While I do have a smartphone and take quick peeks during the day at school, it’s usually nothing more than peeks. Actually, this way, I often don’t check my mail when I walk in the door after coming home from school, in the afternoon (or at least I only continue peeking). That’s when I prefer to eat lunch and read a book for a while before focusing again.
Kim also says that creative work should be done in the morning.
Hmmm. Depends on how you define creativity.
Teaching is one kind of creativity, and I do most of that in the morning. Though not every lesson is creative, and certainly not everything that I do in a school day has any creativity in it. The other kind, simply cannot be done at school, is pure creativity. Activities such as inventing video lessons, figuring out how a new tech tool might liven up a class, photo posts, slide shows and more, all happen late at night. I (and most of the teachers I know) do not sleep as much as this article suggests!
I was startled by the evening activity related to the “not to do” list! It never occurred to me! However, I do write down my tasks much more often than in the past, as I have become more forgetful. I totally agree with Kim’s recommendation regarding the “any.do” task manager – so friendly and helpful! I use it all day.
One final point – I was totally unable to relate to the Pareto Principle in regards to teaching. Can you?