Tag Archives: time management

Time management – how might I improve?

I am currently in a phased return to work after an extended absence of two months due to mental health issues – see posts in October 2015 onwards. Having time away from work has meant that reflection has taken place about why I got to be in such a place in the first case. Time is always the resource that we crave more of, but usually this is expressed in terms of completing work tasks or alternatively to have time with family/ friends. I know that I work too many hours each week for school. I fail on the work life balance and it bites from time to time because it triggers other issues as mentioned above.

So I have been reflecting – the issue of the moment: work – life balance, I need one, as do many of us. However, how can I achieve it? So I turned to an Internet search on time  management strategies. I came across the Pomodoro technique or Tomato technique!?! Wary at first as it presents as someone’s vehicle to profit, but as always there are ways to use the idea without buying branded accessories (www.pomodorotechnique.com).

Essentially the method breaks work tasks (importantly not leisure time – this is a work efficiency tool) into 25 minute slots. Each slot involves focus on ONE* task (more than one small task may be combined to fill one pomodoro).  It is about not multi-tasking. I recommend reading this for yourself from the official website.

During a 25 minute slot – a pomodoro – you work on your task. If there are any distracting thoughts / interruptions, record what they were for allocation later, but do not respond. If you have to respond then that pomodoro is incomplete. After the allocated time – signalled using a timer of some sort (my interpretation – I use a clock or timer – there are apps available).

This is one page from the Apple App Store.

At the end of the pomodoro I am keeping a record of tasks achieved and am using this with my son and his college tasks (since 01 January as an experiment) so that we can both use our time more efficiently. Then your reward is a 5 minute break away from the work – have a drink, use the loo, stand and have a stretch.

You repeat the cycle. A task may take more than one pomodoro, in fact you can learn how long certain repetitive tasks can be completed in when focused. I will be using this myself for tasks including lesson planning, marking a set of books, restricting time spent on answering emails each day. This will be part of my reviewing my work efficiency as I have set a 50 hour weekly work limit. I will not always complete tasks and will have to plan well so that I meet school and exam board deadlines. After 4 pomodoros you are recommended to take a 30 minute break. For my son I am using this after 3 pomodoros to start with.

I will review this through the blog and would like to share ideas with others using it. Already some colleagues online are investigating the technique. The pomodoro website also links it to concentration spans for ADD sufferers, which is where I hope it will help my son.

This is one of my strategies for work-life balance, let’s see how 2016 goes.

P.S. If leaving 17 year old instructions while out, remember that 25 minute work slots can be timed. Games playing online has no such restrictions!! A less than impressed Dad.

The term moves on apace…

Well, I have not logged much or tweeted but what a busy return to school. Reading others tweets and blog posts as well as news stories this is another eventful term.

Demands – I find it frustrating how goalposts seem to be moving frequently and used to judge teachers’ value. My own school in preparation for Ofsted (which seems to have been in imminent for at least two terms) are now bringing in Lead inspectors so we can Experience what Ofsted offers but more frequently. Feedback gives us ideas which are valid but we can not realistically react to each new pronouncement unless we want to work staff into the ground. At the same time our small but faithful pedagogy group are meeting more frequently and sharing common practices across departments. Meetings / workshops promise to include more teachmeet style inputs once the pace slows slightly discussions between staff seem ever more focused.

So some positives and areas of concern more than negatives. So am I following the standard line? Nope, as I forge forward with SOLO in all of my Key stage 3 lessons to help pupils identify how to progress and this is combined currently. With a critique based homework- the first projects are coming in and some of the results are mind blowing with the creativity and commitment shown. Over the next week 8 classes will hand in their final pieces and I will review how they have developed work, has it shown progress? Was it challenging enough? What do they think? I am genuinely keen to read pupil feedback, I have had some verbally and a mixed set of responses so far. We also have a new marking scheme within our faculty that links work to individual targets so insufficient effort can be identified faster- it works but the workload is one that I am still trying to fit into a two week turnaround.

Open morning was on a Saturday this year- we will have time off in lieu, but is December a little too far away? It was nice to have visitors as sun streamed through the windows. In my room we offered a map quiz based on my UK wall map display, a new subject photo wall on the landing, examples of the critique homework project and how it was developing, SOLO hexagons with UK facts to match up – this kept other staff and ex pupils busier than visitors, an interactive app task for European capitals and countries that was popular and a chance to chat about our literacy mats on all desks – so yes, tiring but fulfilling, especially for parents and children seen during the week on daytime tours.

That’s enough to keep me busy, but of course there has also been new staff IT training sessions, Digital leaders meetings inc IWB training and developing a new mobile technologies group. An assistant form tutor (keen TA) who has brought in birthday cards, a Jenga competition and a fab new display that many stand and admire. …

So why this post? A release I think not my most eloquent yet a taster of the start of this school year.