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The Teaching Space Podcast

The podcast is on pause for a year (as of August 2021) as I am tackling the final year of my masters in education (which I am doing alongside my full-time job). In the meantime, please revisit the considerable back catalogue of episodes. Also, give me a follow on Twitter, where I am still very active and sign up for my personal newsletter here. You can visit The Teaching Space website here:

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Jan 12, 2018

Episode 5 of The Teaching Space Podcast shares 10 simple strategies to help teachers and trainers save time.

Podcast Episode 5 Transcript

Welcome to episode 5 of The Teaching Space Podcast.

Today I'm going to share 10 simple timesaving strategies with you.

My First Book

The reason I chose this topic for today's episode is that I'm currently writing a book. It's my first book which is very exciting, and the book is all about being a productive teacher or trainer.

That's why I thought it would be a great idea to tease some of the contents of the book with this episode.

So without further ado, here are my top ten simple strategies for saving time.

1. Inbox Zero

Inbox Zero probably isn't what you think it is. There's a lot more to it than just having an empty inbox.

I've written a lengthy blog post all about how to achieve Inbox Zero. I highly recommend you check it out.

2. Stop Being a Perfectionist

We, teachers, have a tough time when it comes to perfectionism. We are under a lot of pressure to constantly model best practice and to be perfect in every way.

However, that will take its toll, and it isn't possible. We all need to develop. We all should have a growth mindset. And if you are striving for perfection all the time is impossible to grow.

I talked about this in episode 1 of the podcast.

Stopping being a perfectionist is absolutely one of the best time-saving strategies you can implement.

3. Schedule Everything

I use a Google Calendar and that works brilliantly for me because I can see everything on my mobile devices as well as when I'm at my computer. And I have all of my teaching sessions in there. I have any marking time outlined and I schedule lunch. Yes, you heard that correctly I schedule lunch.

Everything is on my calendar and accounted for.

By giving yourself that level of structure, you can identify any gaps in your schedule, and you can plan things far more realistically.

One of the other reasons scheduling is so powerful is that Parkinson's Law dictates that events will expand to fill the time allotted. Meetings are a brilliant example. If you put an hour aside for a meeting, that meeting will take an hour. Even if it only needed 15 minutes.

So by scheduling everything you create constraints within which you need to complete tasks. Then if Parkinson's Law is indeed correct, and whatever you've planned to do can only take a certain amount of time, you are going to end up saving time. 

And what should you do with that saved time?

4. Schedule and Take Breaks

Taking breaks will keep you mentally sharp and make you work more efficiently, thus saving you time again.

I'd also recommend setting an alarm on your phone for home time if you tend to work late. The likelihood of you doing good quality work after hours is pretty slim.

5. Batch Your Tasks

Batching refers to the practice of collecting similar types of tasks and dealing with them all at the same time.

So you could, for example, batch your emails. Rather than just having your email program open and responding to emails as they come in, you could allocate one hour a day maybe at the start of the day or the end of the day to deal with all of your e-mails at once. 

The reason batching works is it reduces start up and slow down time. For example, the time it takes to open your email inbox and to receive said email might seem like a tiny tiny fraction of time, but it will add up as the day goes on.

Even worse is the mental delay it takes to switch from doing one type of task to another.

It also improves your focus because you're working for longer on a task so you can enter a state of flow as you work.

Batching is a fantastic approach to productivity.

6. Identify Your Most Important Task of the Day...

... and do it first.

If this strategy is of interest to you, I highly recommend Brian Tracy's book Eat That Frog.

7. Ask For Help

Number seven is probably the most difficult strategy on this list. Ask for help.

Ask your colleague your line manager. Ask anyone to help you.

8. Go Paperless 

Put all of your handouts on Google Classroom or in Google Drive and share those with your learners.

Not having to photocopy, staple and hole-punch handouts has revolutionised my lesson prep. I estimate I've cut it down by half.

9. Streamline Your Marking Process

I'm going to delve into this in a bit more detail in episode 6 of the teaching space podcast, so please keep an eye out for that one.

There are many different ways you can streamline your marking process. For this list of 10 simple strategies, I'm going to suggest that you come up with codes for marking. You can provide your learners with a marking key that explains all of the acronyms you're using. 

But just by putting letters rather than sentences you are going to save a lot of time.

10. Segment Your To-Do List

I use the following segments:

  • today
  • upcoming, and
  • later. 

I use Asana as my project management tool of choice, but you could easily set up a today, upcoming, and later segment system in Trello or Workflowy. I've used both of those systems as well and I highly recommend them.

Wrap Up

Those are my 10 simple strategies for saving time for teachers and trainers. As I mentioned, I am currently writing a productivity book and will be delving into the strategies and others in a lot more detail.

Please consider leaving a positive review for the podcast on iTunes.

I hope you enjoyed the episode, and I hope you'll join me next time.