As I suffocated under the avalanche of work that came my way as a new assistant principal, something had to change. To avoid burning out I needed to manage my workload in a healthy way, without compromising its quality.
I’ll be sharing the strategies that helped me in this series about managing workload.
The first post of the series is about one of the tools I find most valuable: a workload audit. I found out about it in the book Managing Teacher Workload: Work-Life Balance and Wellbeing by Sara Bubb and Peter Earley. Their audit was a fairly rigorous process, but I took a more relaxed approach.
1. Keep a diary
Keep a diary of what you spend your time on at work for a couple of weeks. (Yes, I know that this is yet another thing to remember to do). Write down very briefly what you were doing and the duration of the activity. Include interruptions, meetings, both informal and formal, breaks etc.
The very process of keeping a diary may immediately help you identify some areas you can change.
2. Categorise your activities
Try to categorise the activities in your diary. Here are some that I used:
- lesson preparation
- lesson delivery
- parent meetings
- planning meetings
- information meetings
- professional learning
- responding to email
- sorting paperwork
- mentoring staff
- preparing newsletters
- organising resources
- school management
Record the amount of time you spent on each category over the two-week period.
3. Cost-Benefit Analysis
Ask yourself the value of the time spent on each category in terms of student learning outcomes.
In my case, I spent a ridiculous amount of time preparing activities for the IWB. I’d been known to spend hours preparing resources that would only be used very briefly on just a single occasion. I learned to cut down on this sort of preparation time and reserve that effort for resources that would be used again and again.
4. Identify and plan to reduce the time-wasters
This is where it gets tricky. Some of those time-wasters feel as if they are beyond your own control. Start with the areas you can control, and make a time to discuss some of the other areas with your supervisor. Working collaboratively, you may find a creative solution to some of those areas that seem too hard to change.
Once you’ve completed your audit, you are well on the way to managing your workload. I’ll be sharing the time-wasters I found and more importantly, how I reduced or eliminated their impact, in the next posts of this series.
Have you struggled to manage your workload? What were some of the issues for you and what were some of the solutions?