Organizing Your Teacher Prep to Work Less On Weekends

Saturday, December 8, 2018
How often do you hear teachers talk about working all weekend? I was one of those teachers too. After several years of working constantly at work and throughout the weekend, I had had enough. Very few other professions have you working 24/7. Why should teachers be doing the same? It's not cool to work all nonstop, nor is it fun.

I decided to make the most of my teacher prep times throughout the week so that I could work less (and sometimes not at all) on the weekends.

Before you say anything ... before you doubt me... just think: What if you could do this too? Think of all the time you'd have to be an actual real human on the weekends!

Have a Plan
The very first thing you'll need to do is make a prep schedule. My prep schedule is set up weekly - Monday through Friday (NO weekends, remember??!!).  It also includes all of the times throughout the day that I could get work done at school. That doesn't mean that I work through every prep time, but I do work through most of them.

The times I have chosen to include on my prep schedule are: before school, prep, lunch, and after school. I'd also like to be clear here. When I say "after school", I don't mean until after 5pm every night. I do have a family I like to get home to and the whole purpose of this is to feel like I'm not living at work or bringing work home with me every day. But more on that later.

After you decide when you'll work, decide what tasks you'll accomplish during each prep time. Here's a peek at what this looks like for me:

Stick to It
Sticking to your plan can be difficult, some weeks more than others. Things come up and we have to adjust. Here are a few tips to help you stick to your plan:
  • Print your Prep Schedule and hang it somewhere you'll be able to see it while working throughout the day. 
  • Close your door during your prep times. I love, love, love my colleagues, and sometimes we take breaks and chat, but if you want to stick to your prep schedule, you'll need as few distractions as possible. 
  • If you are going to have to bring work home, prioritize & pick preferences. Make sure the things you can only get done in your classroom get done. Leave anything that could be done at home or that you don't mind doing at home for last. For me, that's printing and laminating. Who else loves using their personal laminator?? 

Set Boundaries
Set boundaries for yourself. Don't work through every lunch. Don't stay late after school every day. For me, there are 1-2 days a week I might stay later. Those are our team planning days and sometimes one other day. 

Set a rule about when you'll leave. I set a rule for myself that on days I'm not staying later, I'll leave at 3:30. At my school, the kids are all dismissed by 2:45 so that gives me 45 minutes to get a few things checked off my to-do list after school. If I'm focused, there's no reason I can't accomplish a good amount in that time. 

I personally don't mind working through my lunch, but maybe you do! If you don't want to work through every lunch, then don't. At my last school, that wouldn't have even been an option because we had to have lunch with the kids. To make up for that, I tried to get to work earlier so that I didn't have to stay later. At my current school, I am not on lunch duty so I've chosen to use that time to cross things off my to-do list rather than having more to bring home with me.

Reward Yourself 
You work hard. Seriously. Your job can be difficult, exhausting, and extremely busy. You deserve breaks every now and again! When I get everything done on my to-do list, I don't look for more to do. Instead, I give myself a break!

For instance, if I get all of my Wednesday tasks done by the end of my prep time, I don't look for reasons to stay after school. I give myself a break and head home early that day. Why? I deserve it. And you do too. When you get what you need to get done, go home. Or take the rest of your lunch to just relax.

I have 2 editable versions of my prep schedule that you can download and use for free. They can be found by clicking here.

Do you have teacher tips for productivity throughout the week? Leave them in the comments below!

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