Teaching Opinion

Managing Time Without a Bell Schedule

By Starr Sackstein — September 14, 2017 2 min read
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Scheduling myself and being productive have never been a challenge for me. In fact, it’s something I can honestly say has been a strength.

My colleagues and friends have always looked to me for guidance on organizing their time better to be more efficient and I’ve always been able to help.

One of the strangest challenges I’ve met with since I started my new position is managing my time.

When I was a teacher, there was a rigid schedule to follow signified by the ringing of bells. The bells varied in length and tone depending on the building I was working in, but I was able to compartmentalize my working hours into 41-44 minute blocks. This helped to distinguish when I was on, and when I could be working on other professional duties.

Another huge difference is my commute. Over the years I’ve become accustomed to waking up between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. and being on the road no later than 5:30. I started my day at work promptly at 6:30 (since I’m a morning person).

Sure there was a personal sacrifice in that I didn’t get to see my son off in the morning, but I got to work early and was able to prepare myself for the day, which also alleviated the amount of work I had to bring home with me in the evening. Living less than five miles from my new district has afforded me the opportunity to get Logan on the bus every day, but gets me to work later; so I’m looking for a new routine.

In my new office I have many clocks but none of them seem to be right. It doesn’t really matter though because I don’t often look at them. This has been problematic because I don’t make time to take care of myself. This is a habit that is already being worked on.

Here is what I plan to do to get the most out of the day without burning myself out:

  • I’m going to create a schedule for the day, the day before. In addition to the scheduled meetings I have on my calendar, I want to make sure I have a concrete list of goals each day. And as I accomplish each goal, I will cross it off and move through the list. (Thank you, Terry, for offering this advice).
  • I’m going to set alerts on my phone to remind myself to eat and move around (Thank you, Charlie, for reminding me of how important it is to take a break).
  • I’m going to remind myself that it is okay if I don’t get through everything, every day. (Again, thank you, Terry).

As a high-efficiency kind of person who has always prided myself on getting things done and doing them better than well, I have a hard time allowing myself not to be productive. It may be time for me to redefine what that looks like and sounds like. My experience is in the classroom and therefore I have plenty of evidence to support what productive looks like there, but now it’s time to start building experience in my new field. No more looking back.

It is a certainty that I will always miss being with kids in a room, but I know I’ll have so many opportunities to work with kids in different capacities where I am now.

Anyway, gotta run! Time to do more walk-throughs.

How do you manage your time at work? Please share your best tip or biggest challenge. Thanks.

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.