4 tips to help Educators improve their time management skills
Effective time management is an essential skill for any successful educator. On a daily basis early childhood educators face a multitude of time pressures. Time management is about taking control of your available time before it takes control of you.
Educators must remain focused on meeting children's educational needs in between dealing with non-teaching administrative tasks, maintaining the philosophy of the centre and mediating issues arising with parents. You must also make sure to meet your own personal needs and goals while building interpersonal relationships with your fellow educators, unless you want to increase your stress levels. Resilience programs provide education, materials and support for educators looking to develop their time management skills, with 4 of the most important lessons being:
Develop a routine
Having a routine will cut down the amount of time spent on different decisions each day. Albert Einstein owned several variations of the same grey suit he wore every day. He reasoned he could use the extra brain power and time for more beneficial purposes instead of deciding what to wear. Here is an example of a simple to-do list you can follow each morning and afternoon.
• Turn on computer and fill your water bottle for the day
• Check emails and respond to urgent ones and delete/flag/prioritise other new emails
• Review lesson plans for the day
• Tidy any mess from the day
• Allow 10 to 15 minutes to action your email to-do list (flagged/prioritised in-box)
• Prepare materials for the next day's lesson plan
Routines are, as, if not more important for children as they are adults. Routines provide stability and reassurance to allow children to feel safe and secure, increasing their ability to learn in their environment.
Streamline your priorities
Many educators fall into the trap of completing tasks as they pop up, or focusing on doing the simple tasks first because they're easier. Unfortunately this can lead to time-sensitive or urgent tasks being overlooked; creating far more work than there was before anyway. The most effective method for overcoming this is to determine your priorities. It's simpler than you think, especially if you have followed our advice and created a daily to-do list.
• Focus on teaching yourself the difference between important and urgent
• Focus on one task at a time, distraction often leads to errors and further time
• Don't take on too much - don't sacrifice standards or invite burnout
• Delegate tasks where possible
If you don’t meet all your goals straight away don’t expend energy on stress. Building resilience is all about making ongoing progress. As long as you did your best, there is no point adding stress to your to-do list for tomorrow.
Keep staff meetings productive
Staff meetings play a vital role in ensuring effective communication and continuation of team goals. It offers a place to propose new ideas, recognise staff achievements, and solve practical problems using the combined staff experience. If managed poorly though, staff meetings can quickly become unhelpful and represent more of a waste of time, than a time management exercise. Whether you are a Director or an Educator, you have the ability to turn your meetings into a positive and efficient affair.
• Announce the meeting 2 or 3 days in advance; include any important material
• Set an agenda but allow staff input before the meeting
• Stick to the confirmed topics, allow “any other business, AOB” at the end
• Focus on solutions
• Keep a record of notes to send out after the meeting
Maximise time in the educational setting
The goal for any educator should be to maximise the amount of time their children are actively engaged. Children learn faster and develop more skills the more time they are engaged in meaningful and challenging education environments.
• Plan transitions between activities to avoid extended downtime and distraction
• Use a visual daily routine for you and the children to follow
No matter how hard you work on all of these, there is still only so many hours in a day to get it all done. It’s easy to procrastinate and justify putting tasks and planning off until tomorrow because “I’m too busy today”, but studies have shown that’s a quick way for educators to burn themselves out. Not only that; an educator’s time management skills can positively or negatively affect children’s learning outcomes. Time management skills can sometimes take a while to sharpen. Spend some time observing your day to day work as objectively as possible to identify areas where improvements can be made and start your to-do-list.