Happy Friday! How fitting is it that this post is on productivity, when I’m sure we’re all a little checked out at this point. My “summer” officially started on June 2nd; however, I have summer classes that have already started, and will end in late July/early August.
Since I don’t really get a break where I get to sit around and do nothing (before my classes started I spent a great deal of time reading ahead so that I wouldn’t have to do as much each week). I have to continuously be productive without a relaxing break. Plus, when you add in my extracurriculars (blogging, Junior League, alumnae association, working out) it can be very difficult to be productive when I’m not super interested or engaged in a task.
One reason I’ve been given why some people cannot work from home is because they won’t be productive. Well, I think we can all see that we can be productive when we work from home, as long as expectations are fair. As professions that have never dreamed of being remote moved suddenly to all virtual (including teaching) it is important to know that we had to be productive in a medium that we are not used to using 100% of the time. I won’t try and hide the fact it was difficult to do this switch. I suddenly couldn’t help students in real time, sit with them if they need an adult to help keep them focused, and have continual conversations with them. Yes, I was able to continue implementing things that I had been doing all year, like read aloud, and providing students with opportunities to choose their assignments but it wasn’t the same.
When quarantine started, I was asked to spend the majority of the day available to email, still have team planning, provide at least weekly class meetings, and contact families each week. I ended up doing meetings twice a week and used that time for read aloud. We read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The rest of the time was really my own and I had to figure out how to be accountable to my own productivity. This is how I did it:
- Create a daily to-do list. Each day, the first thing I did was create a daily to-do list. I made this specific to things I needed to accomplish for school. I then re-wrote the list in a priority order. I also made sure to include any meetings for the day so that I wouldn’t forget something important.
- Keep a consistent schedule. I kept a pretty consistent schedule. Each week, the meetings were the same (Read Aloud on Tuesday and Thursday, team planning on Mondays, etc.).
- Take a break. If you’re sitting there starring at your computer screen, you’re not being productive. Give your eyes and brain a break and take a step away from your computer for 10 minutes. I did some yoga to help get the blood flowing.
- Take lunch! Oh my goodness, this was definitely the best thing I did for myself! Every day I made sure to schedule in lunch time so that I knew I would have that break consistently and knew it was a time that no one could intrude.
- Drink plenty of water. Another general great health tip, but drink water! First, it helps keep you awake and hydrated. This helps keep you focused! I add lemon to my water to give it a bit of taste so I drink more. I also used filling up my Yeti as a natural break in my day.
- Get dressed. This one was definitely harder for me, but get dressed every day! A lot of the time, I switched from what I slept in to different lounge clothes. Since my meetings were via Zoom and Google Hangouts, I would switch my top if I needed to look a little more presentable.
- Plan something to do after your work time. Plan something fun to do after work time that you can only do if you finish all you work. This could be a quick little treat like online shopping, or self care like painting your nails. If you don’t finish everything on your to-do list, you don’t get the treat or whatever you planned.
- Workout every day. Take time every day to workout. This makes your brain more focused and allows for endorphins to flow through your body. I have to eat before I workout, so I always worked out during my lunch break or right after my day was finished.
- Use materials you like. Use your favorite pens, favorite planner, favorite anything and it will make you more productive! You’ll enjoy what you’re using which makes you more willing to do your work. I always used my favorite pens.
- Make sure you’re being reasonable with yourself. Set your expectations for the amount of work you’re going to get done to the point where they are reasonable. As a teacher, it wouldn’t make sense for me to sit down and go “I’m going to plan all of writing for the year” right now. It’s just not feasible. Instead, I can make a template and a plan for what I want my potential writing block to look like, but that doesn’t mean that I can plan specific SOLs that I will need to cover or what everything will look like.
How’s everything going for you? Are you being productive?