If you follow me on twitter, you may have sensed that I've been a little quiet since participating in Saturday's early morning #langchat. Reason is, I've spent my entire weekend working and organizing my home office...finally! While I was updating my quarter four plans, I realized that so many of my teaching materials and resources were scattered all over the place that just finding the ones I needed took FOR-EV-ER! What a time waster! I then realized that I waste time a lot! I am a master time waster. Time just seems to go to waste. Do most people waste time like me? I'm not sure, but if they did that's a lot of time wasted... You see what's happening here? Now I'm wasting your time and my time at the same time! No more! In an effort to streamline my productivity and efficiency, I came across some amazing productivity hacks.
3 organization hacks for teachers
1. create a donation station: let it go
I know you have a lot of teaching materials and resources. If you're like me, you have stacks of educational books and resources, student projects, graded papers, graded papers that you should have returned last quarter... binders full of professional development goodness, and a sizable assortment of school and office supplies, including a super sweet collection of colorful Precise V5 Pilot® pens (my fav). Where this would be considered a hoarding situation for most, we can justify it by saying, "But it's for the kids!" At least that's what I tell my husband. But seriously, after organizing my home office, I came across so many things that I don't use anymore and were just adding to the clutter. For example, I found tons of Spanish resources that I had purchased for my first year of teaching (four years ago) that I never use. Since making the switch to using TPRS® and TCI, I no longer have use for many of these materials. However, someone else may need them. So, I set up a donation station as suggested by Mandi Ehman's blog, Life Your Way. This has decreased my clutter and uplifted my spirits in knowing that the materials I'm donating will help another teacher; perhaps in his/her first year.
2. forget the paper, but keep the trail: go digital
As much as I infuse my lessons with technology, this one was really hard for me to do. I think it's due to the fact that I LOVE books. I love to read them, smell them, and collect them (back to step #1 for me!). I'm 'old school.' I prefer having a tangible resource where I can highlight, write notes, and put post-its on. I used to print out everything! But times change, and I've got to get on the tech bandwagon. Using Google Drive and USBs have been my saviors this year. Digitally organizing my materials makes it possible to track things down with just a few clicks, and it also allows me to work from different locations and devices. Furthermore it makes it easier to collaborate and share materials with others.
3. don't forget the milk!
However, word of caution with going digital: Once, I accidentally left my USB at home. I almost had a breakdown. OK, I did have a mini breakdown. My entire lessons for the day were on that USB, and I had heard through the grapevine that our principal was performing unannounced observations! AAH! I kept thinking, "What if today's the day?" Fortunately, after eating a piece of chocolate, I snapped out of my mini breakdown and remembered that my husband hadn't left for work yet. Thanks to my digital organization efforts, my husband was able to locate all of the files that I needed easily, and emailed them to me in time for first period. Lesson learned: Always back things up and save files on multiple devices/applications. I mean, you know how much fun teaching is when the internet is down...
As much as I would like to blame these shortcomings on pregnancy brain, the truth is I've always been this way. Going a mile a minute I needed to find an app (remember, digital is key) that could help me keep track of so many important things.In my quest to find such an app I came across these two: Remember The Milk and Rescue Time. Remember The Milk allows me to create a zillion to-do lists, prioritize them, set up various reminders, and keep them updated with their phone app. Rescue Time helps me with time management. It tracks my productivity while I'm working on the computer and gives me a detailed report on how I've spent my time. Using both of these apps keeps me more focused and helps with trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Do you have organizing suggestions to increase productivity? I'd love to try them out. Please share your favorites by leaving a comment below!
P.S. Found the keys in the fridge.