We’ve all fallen victim to procrastination. There are just some tasks that we would rather put off until tomorrow than tackle today (aka laundry, grading papers, grocery shopping), but truly productive people know what they want and take the necessary actions to make those things a reality. If you are tired of always just getting by and you want to get ahead of the game, then there are four things you must implement immediately in order to take control of your chaos and be more productive (and happier!)
1. Make Clear, Measurable Goals
Making clear, measurable goals is your first step to being a more productive, effective and happier teacher. Highly effective teachers not only have high expectations for their students, but for themselves as well. They write down their goals for the week and the year and revisit those goals often to measure their progress. Want a weekly goal sheet plus so much more?
We all love the feeling of accomplishment. It’s a great feeling to check things off of our to-do lists as we get them done because we know that it is bringing us one step closer to our goal. A little tip about that to-do list: Don’t just write a whole bunch of random things that have nothing to do with your goal. Disorder is Disadvantage, and you will become overwhelmed and end up just falling into the trap of procrastination once again. Want to know how to eliminate all the paper clutter in your home? Check out the ultimate guide to the Paperless Home right here!
If you are lacking focus, there is a good chance that you are unclear as to what your focus really is, and when you don’t know, your tasks can seem even more daunting. Don’t be tempted to tackle the easy tasks first. Always start with the more pressing tasks that are of the highest priority. Ask yourself these questions when writing down your to-do lists:
- Will accomplishing this task bring me closer to my goal?
- What would be the consequences if I do not accomplish this task?
- Will accomplishing this task help to make my life easier?
If the answers to these questions are unclear, then you have not set a clear, measurable goal and you should revisit your goals to make some necessary revisions to make them more focused on your desired outcome. When you understand the bigger picture, you are better able to focus on the details.
When you begin to gain momentum and start to see changes in just a matter of weeks from writing down your goals and keeping a clear vision of those goals, you will be hooked. You will want to see more positive changes, and the energy and optimism you receive from the sense of accomplishment will only fuel you with more energy to tackle more tasks to reach your goals.
When you allow yourself to become distracted with emails, texts and social media you will immediately see a drop in your productivity. Oh, and let’s not forget the demands of our families! This step will most likely be the toughest to take control over, but when you eliminate these distractions from your life for the time you have set aside to be the most productive, you will certainly see change.
Facebook especially can be the biggest time-suck. How many times have you logged into Facebook and it wasn’t until over an hour later you realized how much time has passed? Don’t get sucked into this time warp if you truly want to take control of your productivity.
After you have accomplished your tasks for the day, it is perfectly OK to turn those tweets, pings and likes back on if that’s what you choose to do with your free time, but there are so many other ways to decompress that are better for your mind and body, such as:
- Taking a brain-break and doing nothing (yes, that’s right!)
- Meditating or practicing yoga
- Having some family fun time
- Relaxing on your couch with your cat, dog, spouse or kids and watching a movie
- Taking on a hobby that you truly love doing that engages your creative side (scrapbooking, graphic design, cooking, baking, decorating, crafting)
- Going to the gym and releasing some stress, tension and excess energy
Scheduling some downtime is necessary to recharge your battery so that you are ready to be more productive later. When you take care of yourself and make yourself a priority, you will see a difference in your stress level. You will also feel less anxious and actually have more time to enjoy the things that truly matter in your life—your family!
You probably know what time of day you are most productive. I consider myself a morning person, so I schedule my time to tackle my most important tasks during the morning hours. After lunch, it just all seems to go downhill from there until I get a second wind in the evening after dinner. This is the time I set aside to work on my blog posts and product creation.
3. Face Your Fear of Failure
Let’s face it—no one truly wants to fail at something, and some people never take risks or even attempt the unfamiliar because they fear they will fail. This leads to them doing the same things day after day with little to no progress to show for it.
No one is good at everything and everyone has something to learn. Don’t just look at all the success stories, be one of them by taking control of your own life and success. Even those success stories had to start somewhere and chances are it is right where you are now. You will face some setbacks, but don’t let them stand in your way. Instead treat them as lessons to learn from and use them to your advantage.
The truth is that your failures are not fatal. You live, you learn and you move on, so take those risks and see where it takes you. Enjoy the challenge and THINK BIG!
4. Stop Making Excuses and Turn Someday Into Today
Things that you have put off until later in life can become a reality sooner than you think by taking action now, even if you are just devoting 15-30 minutes a day to a particular task that is focused on your goal.
Make a promise to yourself to keep a clear focus on your goals and get started now. Some days may be harder than others to get started, but once you force yourself to start, you will soon feel the reward of accomplishment and wonder why you’ve waited this long to focus on you.
As humans, we are hard-wired to form habits, both good and bad. It takes about three weeks of consistency for something to form into a habit, and it is of utmost importance to foster good, healthy habits. The more things we can form into habits, the more time we have to think about and focus on other things.
Teachers are faced with an extreme amount of pressure on a daily basis from our students, our administration, our families and ourselves! We all want to figure out the magic formula of work-life balance, and it can become a reality when you make yourself a priority.
As a busy mom of two, I often find myself focusing on my kids and their needs before my own when I should be focusing on the both of us equally. When my focus is one-sided and I feel like I’ve lost sight of my goals, I am less happy and also less motivated to pick up where I left off.
I feel the same pressures as you, and that is why I put together this ultimate teacher lesson planner that not only organizes your lessons and work life, but it also organizes your home life too. This resource is the ultimate organizational tool to bring you one step closer to taking control of your chaos and not losing sight of your goals, both short-term and long-term. As a teacher appreciation gift, Top Form Teaching is rewarding one lucky teacher with a free lesson planner. Click here to sign up for the giveaway! The drawing will be held on May 5th, so keep an eye out for an email from us.
The Top Form Teacher Lesson Planner is all you need, and within its colorful 200+ (back/front) pages it includes:
- 25 covers to choose from
- Matching back covers
- Weekly goal sheets
- Inspirational quotes
- To-do lists
- Birthday tracking sheets
- Absentee tracking sheets
- Graphing paper
- Year-at-a-glance sheets
- 2-page monthly calendar spreads
- Weekly menu planners with space for a grocery list
- Weekly errand planner sheets
- Student checklists
- Car/bus rider tracking sheets
- Student ID tracking sheets
- RTI and IEP tracking sheets
- Emergency Procedures sheet
- Parent-teacher conference notes sheets
- Parent communication log
- Notes sheets
- Family Vacation Checklists
Would you prefer to print out and bind your Top Form Teacher Lesson Planner yourself? You can purchase a PDF of this ultimate planner designed specifically for teachers by a teacher in my TpT store here. You won’t be disappointed!