How to Manage Time and Work Like a Boss
I’ve been a teacher for nearly thirty years now, and so I should be red hot at knowing how to manage time. After all, the average classroom teacher regularly has so many plates spinning on a daily basis that every limb is a whirling blur in perpetual motion. Experience has taught me that allowing even one plate to go gyrating off its axis can bring chaos and catastrophe for the whole delicately balanced collection.
But this blogging malarkey- well, that’s different. And I’m finding the whole issue of time management more challenging than I’d anticipated, to be completely honest. I mean, thinking about the whole idea of becoming a blogger was…well- just fantastic, really. I love writing, and blogging means that I can write about stuff that really interests me, and never again have to write about things that just don’t.
Primary School Teacher
To clarify what I’m talking about, you may not know this, but the average primary school classroom teacher is obliged to take an interest in such mind-numbing subjects as: rocks and soils, units of measure ( both metric and imperial), adverbial phrases and subordinating and coordinating conjunctions. Admit it- you’re bored already! Imagine having to feign interest in that lot- and a whole host of even more boring topics besides- for nearly thirty years! I don’t know how I’ve done it!
Working From Home
So, what I thought was: become a blogger: write about interesting things, things that get my fingers positively sparking over the laptop key board: it’ll be great! Hey- and you get to do it from home, and manage your own time! Goodbye M6! Goodbye difficult parents! Ta-ta to staff meetings and professional development and tedious meetings about assessment. No more report writing- hurray!!
This will be the new pattern of my Week
Monday morning: awakened at 7am by the alarm- no more 6:30 for me anymore! Up, dressed, breakfast and ready at my laptop to report for writing duty by 8:30 am at the latest.
Straight into writing/ preparing next blog post.
9:30 am: take first break: wee, coffee, throw the ball for the dog in the garden for around 20 minutes, then back to the keyboard to work steadily through until lunch at around 12:00.
12:00 healthy lunch put together: salad, hummus, green stuff- that sort of thing- and eaten before 1pm before returning to the laptop for another hour’s work. That hour will be spent emailing, and suchlike.
2pm-5:00 FREE TIME! Wow! The whole afternoon off!!
Obviously,this precious time will not be frittered away on any kind of pointless activities: no, it will be utilised for exercise, dog-walking and attending classes that I’ve really wanted to attend but have always been otherwise occupied teaching PE, the Egyptians or subordinate clauses or suchlike. No, now I will spend my afternoons attending French conversation sessions, singing, creative writing workshops and book clubs. I may even join a hiking club and enjoy hiking in the nearby Lake District.
5pm: teatime. Evenings will be spent working on my blog business- no more than an hour or so- and then I’ll actually go out: live music, pubs, the theatre, meals out- whatever I want, because there are no lessons to plan for the next day- and certainly no marking. Fantastic!!
It’ll be a joy! No more telling myself I’ll do an hour’s marking, then I’ll fill in those assessment tables and then I’ll spend another hour and half preparing tomorrow’s lessons, before……..NO MORE, No more for me!
So, you’re asking, has it worked out like that?
Well, the fact is that I’m still teaching at the moment, so haven’t had the chance to try out this new lifestyle which I have planned out for myself just yet; but I’m having this creeping suspicion that I’m not going to be able to live that life exactly to plan.
Why not? Well, I guess I kind of like deadlines- I am programmed to respond to them anyway. I was always that one who started working on my essays well before the deadline at university, so that I had plenty of time. I was never the last minute panic type-no, I kind of used the whole two weeks preparation time to get pages of notes together and then panic over the last few days about how I was going to create anything of any value out of all that stuff.
Being My Own Boss
What worries me now, is that, as a blogger, working on my own blog, I am going to have to impose my own deadlines, and I’m not convinced that I’ll be all that good at it. It’s that thing about being my own boss- in one way, it’s what we dream of, but in another way it’s kind of scary. I mean, when you’re at work and things go tits up, the boss is ultimately the one who has to take it on the chin- not you. But if you are your own boss, and things don’t go right- well……it’s all your fault.
How To Manage Time and Work Like A Boss
So, before I cut the umbilical cord of a regular job and life pattern, I’ve been researching some hints and tips from the experts about time management- I’m in my note-taking preparation stage.
Find Your Most Productive Hours
Now, there’s a great idea! Work out when you are generally at your most productive and schedule most of your heavy lifting tasks for those times. A first rate tip for time management- after all, how many people have you heard declare themselves a ‘night owl’ or ‘an early bird’? Loads, right?
Night Owl, or Early Bird?
So obviously that got me to thinking about myself: am I a night owl, or an early bird? A night owl, probably, because I’m used to working in the evenings after school. OK, so save all the deep-thinking stuff for the evenings. Yes…..possible, I guess.
Write a to-do List the Night Before
Undeniably a top idea! Apparently, only takes about five minutes and it means that the next day you can hit the ground running without any fiddling about. Hmmm, so- five minutes before bedtime…just a quick list…
You know what that would mean for me? Five minutes writing, followed by 45 minutes lying awake thinking it all through. Sleep well and up at 7:00 am to hit the ground running? Not on your nelly.
Back to the drawing board…next tip for how to manage time, please?
Start on the Most Critical Task First
Yes….now, that’s good….I get that. Get the thing that’s bothering you most out of the way first thing and you’re bound to feel better about yourself and what you can achieve.
Now that makes perfect sense! Thing is….that’s just not me. No, better for me to get a few little things ticked off my list first to get me stoked up with enough confidence to bring out the big guns and get cracking on those tasks that are going to CHANGE MY LIFE.
Sit down at my laptop and hit myself straight between the eyes with something that scares the pants off me and has probably kept me awake ever since I wrote it down on that to-do list the night before? That just ain’t happening.
Next hint, please….
The Eisenhower Matrix
What d’you mean- you’ve never heard of it? Well, I’m not a fan of tables, because they bring out all my twitches, but this one makes perfect sense- you may want to look it up. In essence, the idea is that you write down all the tasks you need to do- in one, long, terrifying list- then you categorise all the tasks. If it’s urgent, mark it ‘U’, if it’s important, mark it ‘I’, and if it’s neither of those, then cross it out.
Still following me?
Next, you evaluate how much time each of the remaining tasks on your list is likely to take and arrange a plan for yourself. Now, I must admit, I’m liking this idea of time management…especially the stuff that you can cross off the list altogether. The aim is to identify your genuine priorities: which tasks on your list are going to get you to achieve your objective the most quickly, and which, simply, are not.
Like it. Yes, this is one for me! Next tip, please…..
Use Time Constraints- Set a Timer
This tip to help you to manage your time advises using a timer to set time to achieve certain tasks, as the task will inevitably expand if there is an unrestrained time in which to do it. The idea is to beat the timer- complete the task in even less time than that which you allocated!
Hmm. Have I not escaped the 5-9 to escape exactly that- time constraints? The school timetable is gone, so I devise one of my own? Not sure I want to do that to myself, although I do understand the benefits of this time management idea, and every task does undoubtedly expand if there are no constraints in terms of time.
Hmm… I need to think this one through…….and while I’m thinking about it I might just make another cup of coffee and put a load of washing on…maybe iron those few shirts? Watch a bit of TV?
No, Christine, you’re talking about being productive, remember? Now, sit down and just get on with it.
Next hint to ace time management, please.
No browsing your ‘phone, checking through emails, doing odd bits of housework. Now I have struggled with this trick of how to manage time, but have actually had a breakthrough in recent weeks.
What has worked for me, is to go out of the house- no dog wanting to play, no endless possibilities for making coffee and no housework-style responsibilities. The other benefit of being out of the house-for me- is no silence.
I’m not very happy with silence- it makes me a bit edgy. Never been very productive working in libraries and such places. However, it’s no good putting on music either, because then I start listening to that instead of concentrating on the job in hand.
I’ve found that coffee shops are my perfect place for productivity. Not only is there the gorgeous aroma of freshly-ground coffee beans wafting up my nose, but there’s just the right kind of background noise- neither too loud nor too silent to distract me. Obviously, a great cup of cappuccino also enhances the whole experience.
If you would like to learn more about how to manage time, and tips that you could use to improve your own productivity, then take a look at this excellent article by Dan Silvestre: ’23 Time Management Techniques of Insanely Busy People.’
If you like this article please read our article on getting the best rest here, or the perfect night sleeps