Teacher task lists are never ending. With so much to accomplish we can often become overwhelmed to the point of not getting ANY of it done. Instead of sitting in the Sunday Scaries knowing the work and grading are piling up, let me share the simplest trick to getting back on track!
Being Productive with your Teacher Task List
First of all, please remember productivity isn’t about doing MORE things, but about doing the things we need so we have more time available to us. This simple system is about setting up a routine that helps us be productive with the things that need to happen and get completed. My task list example is no fluff. It’s what needs to get done, no more, no less, and I highly encourage you to do the same.
The key to keeping everything going smoothly is to commit to a FOCUS during our work time. This means we not only stay focused on one task at a time (bye multi-tasking) but we also need to have a game plan for what is getting worked on and when. Let’s get started.
The Teacher Task List
We all have those never ending lists at home and at school, but when it comes to teaching there’s no shortage of additional things to put down and we hit what I call “overwhelm paralysis”. It hits me regularly, and often when it hits I know that my mental health needs me to take control before it gets worse.
So, let’s take control now!
Start by writing general tasks that you need to complete for school on a regular basis. Don’t get crazy specific with what’s needed NOW but stick to overarching themes: “grading science” instead of “grading Current Event worksheets” or “office requests” instead of “turn in field trip request for October”.
Here’s my list to get you started:
- *Grade Earth Science
- *Grade Chemistry
- Make Copies
- Check emails
- File Papers
- Create Bell Work and Morning Slides
- Input Grades
- Email Parents
- *Unit Planning Earth Science
- Lesson Plans
- Unit Packet Prep
- Lecture Slides
- Lab Prep
- *Unit Planning Chemistry
- Lesson Plans
- Unit Packet Prep
- Lecture Slides
- Lab Prep
- Update Google Classroom
- Open Classroom
- Turn on lights, set up Spotify, update daily fun fact
- Close Classroom
- Inbox 0, clear desk, set out supplies for the next day
- Email Absent Students
This list is not intended to become MORE stressful but to actually get a list written down to take the next steps! (If you’re like me, this Teacher Task List actually helped me to see that it was never as much as my brain was making it out to be)
*These are either always ongoing tasks that may need more time or tasks that I don’t need to work on every single day. We will get to these later.
Finding Time for Your Teacher Task List
Let’s now consider what time you have to get work done and how much time you have in those moments. Take advantage of ALL your working time, even the 15 minutes here and there will help you accomplish so much if we stay focused!
For example, my times are:
- Before School (about 15 minutes)
- Plan Period & Lunch (60-95 minutes if I work through lunch)
- Study Hall (variable, about 20 minutes of interrupted work time)
- After Dismissal (45 minutes max)
- Evenings (8-10pm, but only used if necessary)
So, now we have a list and time slots, let’s get to figuring out a plan.
What Teacher Tasks and When
I hope you enjoy puzzles and Tetris because this part can take a little finagling, but it’s all worth it!
Start putting tasks into your working slots, but ALWAYS UNDERSCHEDULE yourself. If you, like me, only have 15 minutes in the morning then prioritize what tasks will start the day off right and can easily get done in that time.
***2 things to leave OFF of this list: anything that you may have starred up above, like unit planning, and tasks that can be delegated to students.***
Before School (15 minutes): Open Classroom, Create Morning Slides, Create ES Bell Work form, Check email= approximately 10 minutes
Planning Period (60-95 minutes): Input Bell Work Grades, Update Google Classroom, Grade Chemistry, Email Check= approximately 45 minutes
Study Hall (less than 20 minutes): Input Afternoon Bell Work Grades, Create Chem Bell Work, File Papers, Email Absent Students and Parents= approximately 15 minutes
Dismissal (45 minutes): Make copies, Grade Earth Science, Catch Up on Missed Tasks, Close Classroom =45 minutes
These now became your Focus Tasks for these periods.
When you hit your planning period, put down your phone, close the door, and get those tasks done in that order. No questions, no wondering what needs to happen when, you have your “duties” and
There are clearly tasks left over on your list and mine. Why didn’t I include Unit Planning into my daily schedule? Simple, I don’t need to unit plan every day. I don’t need to create assignments everyday if I’m creating my unit plans and providing unit packets. But, I CAN be planning ahead and I can always use even more time to get grading done.
What happens with THOSE tasks? The ones that you aren’t sure you’ll finish in the time you gave it or will need to be done but just not every day?
These become our BONUS tasks.
*These are the tasks I starred in my original list!
I assign my bonus tasks to specific days of the week
Monday: Chem Unit Work and Grading
Tuesday: Earth Science Unit Work
Wednesday: Chem Unit Work and Grading
Thursday: Earth Science Grading
When do I work on Bonus Tasks?
Bonus tasks are added into any free time I have during the day. Once I get really efficient with this routine, I may find that I have an extra 20/30 minutes throughout my day to start working on the next unit for Chemistry or catch up on extra grading.
If I don’t get it all done during the Bonus time then I will take that part of my Teacher task list home, but this should be minimal time at home. Remember, productivity is getting stuff done not doing more. Only take home what you are necessities to complete.
Being my 4th year and officially having my eleventh and twelfth new course to plan, I still only work about an hour at home each night on the nights that are required. Cut the fluff until you have a good foundation and then add the new crazy ideas on top next year!
Final Teacher Task List Thoughts
Adjust as necessary: I’d be shocked if even I don’t need to adjust my plan. As the year grows and changes we will need to shift with it, but keep giving yourself a focused list
Seriously, put the phone down: If you want more freedom outside of school, you’ll need to keep away from the distraction during school. I swear by videoing a time-lapse of yourself working (I’m doing it right now with this blog post). It keeps your phone busy and you feel accountable because it’s “watching” you.
Print and Laminate: Print off your list and laminate it so that you can check off tasks each day!
Planners: If you love your teacher planner, then make sure you write out tasks that fit in the time you’ve scheduled them. It will help you get a better idea of what’s to come and maybe even plan out your bonus tasks ahead of time!
Habit Tracker: Reward yourself for building a new habit that’s going to do so much for your sanity and your time at home! I’ve got this free printable Teacher Habit Tracker you can customize and use for your daily and weekly tasks (and even reward yourself with a treat later!) Just sign up below!