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As a full-time teacher, who also runs the Empowering Expat Teachers community, has a side business showing expat teachers how to get top teaching jobs abroad, recently published a book on “How to Be an Empowered Expat Teacher: Personally, Professionally, and Financially”, and properties to maintain and rent out, so many people say to me, “Where do you get the time to do all that? You’re obviously very disciplined and focused to keep all those plates in the air!” Well, as teachers, I guess we are natural time managers, aren’t we?
Actually, I have a confession to make… I am naturally really terrible at time management. If I do not consciously manage my time well, this is what my life looks like on a Friday:
– 6am: I get up early and start “working” on my mental to-do list.
– 6.15am: I get on Facebook to respond to some comments on the EET group, but then I am distracted by those “Big Bang Theory” clips that constantly appear on my Facebook.
– 6.45am: I remind myself to get back to work but feel overwhelmed, so I just decide to watch another episode of “Murder She Wrote” on Youtube (Disclaimer: I am addicted to watching Jessica Fletcher and her sleuthing skills!).
– 8.45am: Ok, I actually end up watching 2 episodes… I panic that I have done none of my to-do list in the last 3 hours, so I decide to skip the gym to get back to my list. My exercise time is pivotal to my mental and physical wellbeing, so not only do I feel guilty that I haven’t been to the gym, I also get mad at myself when I skip sessions.
– 11am: I spend far too long on a task that is actually not urgent, rather than completing them in order of priority.
– 1pm: I end up half-doing many tasks rather than doing one or two well.
– 3pm: I realise that I have been faffing about and have actually achieved nothing worthwhile! I have wasted HOURS of my weekend procrastinating over a few tasks that I could have done in 60 minutes!
So what do I do to manage my time better?
I have many tried-and-tested strategies to manage my time better and here are a couple of things I do:
- The night before, I write my goals down for the next day. I make sure they are specific, realistic, and prioritised in order of urgency.
- On the day, I set a timer to spend 20-25 minutes on a task and I do not allow myself to get distracted until the time is up! Then I give myself a short break before my next task!
- I am a reformed perfectionist, so my motto is, “Get it done, not perfect!” We could waste hours making sure that every single detail is perfect, but at the end of the day, there needs to be a point where we have to stop and just get it finished!
- Last year, I bought Time Management by Brian Tracy last year, which has 21 proven time management techniques to gain at least 2 productive hours daily, whether it be at home, at work, or in your side business. What I love about this book is Brian Tracy realises that time management is also a psychological shift, so he delves into our mentality towards it to ensure the changes we make are lifelong. He talks about the “Four Ds of Effectiveness”- desire to get your time under control; decisiveness about making time management part of your daily routine; determination to succeed; and discipline to make it a lifelong habit. He also teaches us how to overcome procrastination, how to batch tasks effectively, and minimise interruptions that cause us to waste valuable time at work. I highly recommend his guide as it combines the psychology and practicality of time management, which boosts our chances of actually implementing his advice and transforming our ability to manage our time well!
Your time is precious, so do not waste it needlessly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, watching others who are living their best lives! Watch an interesting documentary with a friend, go out for a coffee, listen to a podcast or an audiobook while decluttering or doing something productive, or find a side-hustle to make you some extra cash!
What books or tips do you recommend to help us manage our time better? Please let us know in the Comments below!