You have meetings to attend, papers to grade, parents to please, and, if you've got the extra time-students to teach. Breathe. With proper planning, you can fit it all in.
Everything has its place. You are probably pretty tired of the adage, but it's true: "organization is key." Looking for lost papers, buried lesson plans, or misplaced books can turn into an hour of wasted time. Start with one spot in your room, such as your desk, and categorize its contents into "to keep," "to trash," and "to file away" piles. Then, execute!
Count on student helpers. When a student is assigned a task, not only does she feel more responsible, but you've gained valuable extra time. Let well-behaved students distribute handouts or read the morning announcements while you wrap up a task.
Learn to say ‘no.' You are the protector of your own time, and if you won't defend it, no one will. While it may not be easy to turn down a colleague who needs a favor, or decline to give up your prep time to attend a last-minute meeting, losing sleep or falling behind on your own work won't help anyone.
Closets are not landfills. It may be tempting to conveniently throw extra materials into your closet where they're out of sight, but before you know it, you won't be able to open the door for fear of a school-supply avalanche. Start with one shelf or drawer, clear out the whole space, wipe it clean, and put back only what you really need, in clearly labeled, stackable bins.
Call it a day. When you've had enough, it's okay to walk away and revisit your grading, organizing, or e-mailing after your batteries have been recharged. Trying to accomplish a difficult task when you're tired or burned out will only cause more frustration. Save the challenges for when you have the energy.
Teacher magazine readers share time-saving strategies they swear by.
"I type about five times as fast as I hand-write, so I type my comments and save my hand the pain!" —Andrew Fersch
"Ask for help. Other teachers can save you with their willingness to pitch in." —Rubi Bothwell
"I save time on paperwork by assigning each student a number, based alphabetically, to place on their work. I then quickly put them in numeric order." —Pam Tabor
"It may be nerdy, but color-code everything." —Alexandra Romanos
"Simple, I add more hours to my day! (I wish)." —Ann Wolff
Designate one "junk drawer" as the only place for things (power bars, annoying memos, and confiscated cell phones) that don't have a place. That way, you have a junk drawer and not a junked-up room.