In the fast paced, over scheduled, busy world we live in today stress seems to be at its highest. The teaching profession continues to have more and more pushed into it and teachers are finding it hard to find the balance between teaching, planning, and all the other professional and personal things required of them. Then add eMINTS on top of that, and it could possibly be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” unless those teachers are proficient at managing their time and commitments. To be an effective eMINTS teacher, you have to figure out how to juggle it all. Here are some strategies that may help to reduce your stress and become more productive and resourceful.
- Manage Yourself: You really aren’t managing time you are managing yourself. Find out where you are wasting time and make adjustments to your practices. (ie. email, searching for files, etc.)
- Goal Setting: Set goals and make rules for yourself to keep you on track. Get some routines established and set some habits. (ie. Goal – keep up with email. Rule – check email at 3 specific times a day and no more.)
- Write To-Do List: Start planning your day by creating a to-do list. It can be on paper, on your phone, computer, or on the fridge but not only in your head. Prioritize the list and delegate out things that others could take care of for you. Break large tasks down into smaller, more manageable tasks or steps. Schedule the things that are most important to you and don’t let those items be skipped.
- Urgent Items First: A friend once shared that she “eats her frogs first”. The frogs being those things she doesn’t want to do…she puts them at the top of her to-do list (thanks Stephanie). Put the “urgent” items at the top of your to-do list and work your way down.
- Put on Your Blinders: Block out distractions when working on high priority projects; turn off your email, put your phone on silent, shut your door (turn off the lights).
- Breaks Are Necessary: Take a break when you feel distracted. Stress can get you off track so when you feel it coming on think about taking a 10 minute walk, get up and stretch, or do anything that might re-energize you.
- Add NO to Your Vocab: Learn to say “no”. A phrase I learned from an Oprah show years ago that was freeing for me… “I’m sorry….I wish that I could but I just can’t”.
- Be Flexible: Practice being flexible and allow time for interruptions and distractions; you never know when they will arise and letting them add to your stress will be counter-productive.
- Reflect: At the end of the day, take some time to look over what you have accomplished and how you managed to do all of it. Think about the strategies that worked for you and the ones that didn’t and cut yourself some slack if you didn’t get everything done – just move those things to your next to-do list and give yourself some time to prepare for the next day.
- Use Technology Tools: Here are a few technology tools that may help you out (but be ready to drop them if they end up taking you more time).
- Microsoft Outlook: manage your Email and Blogs (see previous post), create your to-do list with Tasks, create Notes for important things you want to remember, and use the Calendar to manage your time. many places of employment are now using the Microsoft Exchange Servers making your account available not only on your desktop machine. Check with you tech support staff if you aren’t sure. You never know, you could be checking your mail and more on your mobile device.
- Microsoft OneNote: Create a virtual notebook to keep tabs on your life. You can create lists, make drawings, include pictures, insert screen clippings, insert sound and so much more.
- Google: Email, Tasks (in Gmail), Calendar, Reader - Think Outlook but online; accessible from any computer connected to the Internet. Google offers tons of tools that you may find helpful – you can see them all at their products page. Sign up for a Google/Gmail Account to get started. And “There’s an App for that”
- Sticky Notes or Stickies – Create virtual sticky notes on your desktop (think Post Its for your computer). They can be found in the Accessories folder on a Windows machine and in the Applications folder on a Mac.
- Evernote: they say “Capture Anything, Access Anywhere, Find Things Fast”. You can even download it to your Windows computer. And “There’s an App for that”
- Spaaze: “An infinite virtual cork board, is a new visual way to organize pieces of information.” Add bookmarks, labels, notes, YouTube Videos, images, and files. You can now publish your board and even collaborate with others. (currently in beta)
What tips, strategies, suggestions or tools do you have that others might benefit from knowing about? Feel free to share them in a comment.
Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center and writes for her own blog, Higgins Help.
Clock Image – “Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time.” Flickr- monkeyc.net. Web. 9 Dec 2010. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/monkeyc/112342184/>.