Happy Teacher Series: Stop Rushing Through Tasks

Why happy teachers don't rush through tasks complete with 9 tips for getting more done while not rushing.
There are so many things that have to be done during a teacher work day that it seems impossible to not rush through tasks. Despite feeling like you are getting more done when you rush through a task you are instead doing a slap together job that is more than likely stressing you out further. I don't know about you, but more stress is the last thing I need in my life.

You have heard the saying, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well," and this saying is especially pertinent in the classroom. While we have a million and one things to do, it is important that we prioritize what is most important for our students and do what we do well. There has to be some corners that get cut. It just has to happen. The trick is finding items that you can get away without doing while not interfering with your students learning or your completion of your job as a whole.

Happy Teachers Do a Task Just Once

The first step to stop rushing through tasks is to pay attention to what you are doing and do it well. When you take pride in how your complete a job and do your best you likely will only have to do it once. 

Alternately, when you rush through a task you are likely going to have to go back later and redo parts or all of the job. This probably means that you will be spending more time that you don't have on something that you already did. If you take the time to complete a task the right way the first time you can save yourself time and annoyance. 

The truth is, you make more mistakes when you rush. We tell our students this all the time, and we need to heed our own advice. 

When you slow down and complete a task in the right way you can lower your stress level, make fewer mistakes, and increase your productivity. Let's face it, all of these are ways that you can be happier too. 

Ways You Can Slow Down to Get More Done

There are only so many hours in a day, so it seems counterintuitive that slowing down on tasks would make you more productive, but all evidence points to it being true. When you complete tasks at a reasonable, productive speed you are able to accomplish more without getting burnt out. That is the key. 

Simple ideas that you can use to accomplish more while not rushing include:
    Why happy teachers don't rush through tasks complete with 9 tips for getting more done while not rushing.
  • Schedule out your day-This means that you build in time to complete the necessary tasks and are able to plan ahead. I am a huge fan of to do lists and use them every day at home and for work. They allow me to see what is coming up and delegate my time in an appropriate fashion. Along these lines, remember that sometimes you have to say no to a new commitment in order to remain sane and on schedule. Check out How to Say No for more information on this.
  • Cross off impertinent items-If a task does not affect you or your students directly push it to the side if possible. Prioritize your health and you students, because the truth is everything else can wait.
  • Under-schedule yourself-When you are making your to do list for the day only include what has to be done. You will feel a sense of accomplishment as you complete the tasks and will most likely be ready to take on additional tasks that fall lower on the list.
  • Accept Imperfections-I am a huge perfectionist and it took a long time for me to come to terms with the idea that not everything I do is going to be perfect. When you are able to accept imperfections you can move on and do more. For more information on learning to accept imperfections read here.
  • Hide-This may sound funny, but I am not kidding. During your planning or before/after school when you are trying to be productive go to your classroom, close the door, and turn out the lights. Pretend you aren't there and get to work. By doing this you are less likely to be interrupted by a well-meaning coworker that can throw your productive streak a curve ball.
  • Match tasks-When you have a long list of things to do match tasks with similar ones that you can do double duty on. For example, if you need to grade a writing assignment and enter the grades into your online grade book start by alphabetizing your students' papers then enter the grades directly into the grade book as you score each paper. You save time by not having to transfer grades from one place to another.
  • Use "extra" time-You know those extra five minutes you are sitting in a meeting before everyone gets there? Use that precious time to accomplish something. It is the perfect amount of time to do a little grading, make a to do list, or jot down ideas for a new lesson.
  • Turn off all distractions-Picture the scene. You sit down to start grading and your phone rings, you answer it, and just ask you hang up you get an email. After answering the email you can't remember what you were doing to begin with. Sound familiar?
    Take the time to eliminate some distractions before you get started and it will pay back in a big way.
  • Find your zen-No one is productive when they are stressed, at least not as productive as they could be. When you take some time to take care of yourself before completing a task you will be more productive and focused. 
By prioritizing yourself and what tasks you will complete you can be a happier teacher! For more ideas on how to be your best you check out 11 Things Happy Teachers Don't Do


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  1. This really is great advice.

    I love the idea of hiding in my classroom, people do love to just come chat!

    I agree that it is so important to just put you and your children first. EverythING else cam just be lower priority.

    Great post :)

  2. Thank you Ginger Teacher!

    I have hidden more times than I care to admit, but at a certain point it stopped feeling like hiding and it felt like getting my work done. :)

  3. I also love that you mention hiding out!! I thought I was the only one!! Whew! My classroom has a big window next to my door, so I seriously go to a desk in the back corner of the room so no one can see me through the window! Hehee!! And....lights off....yes, perfect! :-)


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