Back-to-School Self Care, Part 1: Time Management

Posted by Cortnie Gurren on Sep 4, 2019

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As William Penn once wrote, time is a valuable commodity. One that we want most but use worst.

Let that sentiment settle in for a moment. Does it resonate with you? Think about your day-to-day activities, during the school year and breaks. What are you always wishing you had more of? If you answered “time,” you are not alone. That said, let’s start off this school year talking tips and tricks to time management, not only within your school setting, but within your personal time as well.

Set Aside Personal Time

We know how quickly the day escapes us. Balancing work and life continues to be a challenge for many of us. So, how can we be better at this? The answer is scheduling what I call “me” time. Every day, there should be one block of time, no matter how short, that is about you and you only. The challenge may not be scheduling that time but being fully engaged during the time you do take. According to Loehr, J. & Schwartz, T. (2005), in the book, The Power of Full Engagement, there are four principles of becoming “Fully Engaged.” Principle One requires drawing on sources of energy: Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual. We will cover these in depth in Part 2 of this blog, when we focus on our well-being.

For now, take the first step and put aside a small block of time each day that focuses on you and you only. Remember, only you are in control of how you manage your energy within all four principles.

Create an Organization System

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have an organized, procedure-based space. Whether you are in the classroom, the office, or a district setting, a sense of calmness can be provided by the systems we create. If you are in the classroom, this starts from the moment your students walk in the door, through every transition occurring throughout the day. While we may face overcrowding in many of our classrooms, it is best to keep our spaces free of clutter and have a “home” for student materials. A place all students can access. A space that is labeled properly so it takes away questions about its function. These types of systems begin as early as preschool. If a student can manage themselves and their belongings in a classroom, it helps them take ownership. But remember, your students need use of these spaces modeled for them. What does it look like when we walk in the classroom daily? Are we dropping homework in a homework bin? Where is the placement of that bin? If it’s directly at the entrance of your door, is it causing a pile up of students? If so, is there a better location that allows for more student movement?

Let’s not forget about your personal space within your classroom or office. Now is a good time to go through your things and purge items you haven’t used in years. Have a clear space/board with important items you access regularly. Arranging and maintaining an organized space is a personal endeavor. You have to start where you are comfortable and build from there. Once you create that space in your home away from home, your emotional and mental principles will build. The calmness will be present because you have made that space yours.

Focus on Priorities

If you are like me, I tend to work backwards. I feel if I finish something farther down my list rather than face what is quickly approaching, then I am ahead. WRONG! All I am doing is causing myself more angst. How do we focus on tasks that need to be completed when there is so much to do?

Step 1: Make a list with deadline dates for tasks that are approaching within a two- to three-week time frame.

Step 2: Identify what is urgent and what is important. If it’s urgent, start there.

Step 3: Focus only on those things you can control and complete. If you are facing an issue you can’t do anything about, let it go.

Step 4: Think about your time and ask yourself, “What is the most valuable use of my time in this moment?” Then, move forward on that.

Learn to Say 'No’

Isn’t this one of the first words we learn as a toddler? Yet, it’s also the one we seem to lose from our vocabulary as we become adults. Your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical pillar needs this. When you say “Yes” to someone when you really want to say “No,” you are taking away from yourself. This year is about self-care and taking care of you. Keep your vision clear and your path clearer. When you do say “Yes,” make sure it is for the right opportunity, one that has a benefit to you and your growth and well-being.

Have a great start to another amazing school year and check out Part 2 of this blog, where we will dig deeper into the four principles of managing energy.

Cortnie Gurren has worked in special education for more than a decade, beginning her teaching career with Clark County School District in Las Vegas, NV. She joined Voyager Sopris Learning® four years ago as an implementation specialist, before moving into a sales role. She continues to share her passion for student and teacher success by ensuring both teachers and students are equipped with the necessary solutions to be successful. She is honored to still be a part of helping students achieve their goals and realize anything is possible. Cortnie is a “bonus” mom and resides in Colorado with her husband and 17-year-old step-daughter. As of late, she is spending her free time preparing her daughter for college. As Cortnie says, “Life is a continuous journey.”

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