Six ways to create more time in your day so you get to focus more on what you love and less on what you don’t.
Short of a time machine and some special magic, we can’t add time into our day, but we can make the work we do more efficient and reduce time wasters. Here are six tips designed specifically for educators and school administrators.
Tip #1: Multitasking is a Myth
Sure, you can fold laundry and chat with your best friend at the same time, but when it comes to complex tasks, studies show when someone tries to perform two tasks simultaneously or switch from one task to another in rapid succession, they perform these tasks slower and make more mistakes.
It takes the brain extra time to switch on the second task and switch off the first. If you are having to do this repeatedly throughout your day, the time lost can really add up. Focusing on one task at a time can actually save time.
Tip #2: Schedule Creative Time
You are a talented and smart individual, and you deserve uninterrupted time to focus on what you do best. Just as multitasking doesn’t work, having your thought processes interrupted causes big-time wastes as your brain tries to get back on track.
So, when your co-worker pops in and says, “Do you have a minute?” what it really means is “Do you have 10 minutes?” because that’s how long it’s going to take to get your groove back (and let’s face it, that co-worker never talks for just a minute!). And we all know this exchange happens often during the day.
To combat those breaks in your work stream, schedule “creative time” on your calendar. Twice a day block off 45 minutes, turn off chat and email notifications, silence your phone and only focus on one task. You will be amazed at what you get done.
Tip #3: Ditch the Paper
If your organization hasn’t gone through a digital transformation yet, now’s the time. Everything you do can be digital including all documents, forms, contracts, and communications. Stop spending time and money managing paper. Being able to access your files from anywhere, on a 24/7 basis, will allow you to complete small, short tasks in your gap time. So, while you’re waiting for your doctor’s appt., you can pull and send those enrollment reports.
Tip #4: Take Breaks
When you are working hard, your brain needs time to absorb, sort, link, and compartmentalize all data and information hitting it. Similar to the Pomodoro Technique, working in 45 minutes stretches and then taking a break for 15 minutes allows your braining organizing time.
Talk a walk (fresh air and sunshine do wonders for mental stimulation), chat with students, grab lunch, refill your water bottle or check-in with that co-worker that needed you for a minute earlier. Scheduling this around your bell schedule works great for school staff.
Tip #5: Use Better Tools
Did you know your not-so-great software can be causing up to a 40% loss in productivity? Opening and closing programs, copy and pasting data, fixing mistakes, tracking down documents and contracts, all contribute to added minutes to every task. Look for software that can manage multiple aspects of your job functions.
For example, your admissions, enrollment, tuition management, and student management software should all be connected. Key attributes that will save you time are integrated systems, automation, data sharing across platforms, personalized form fills, automated reporting, mass billing and crediting, online document management, and alerts and reminders for families.
Tip #6: Stop Waffling
Make decisions quickly and move on. Set a time limit for research and analysis; then determine your action. Use dashboards to quickly see your key data points in real-time. Address emails when you read them. If an item needs follow-up, make a list and set time aside to address the issue. By making decisions efficiently, you are giving your mind the space to focus on your more important tasks.
Check out these resources for other ways to improve efficiency in your office: