Are You Really Running Out of Time?

Susan Collins Life in the Classroom, Social Issues

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It’s a new calendar year, and many resolutions have been made. According to an article on the top 10 resolutions for 2019 are:

Exercise more

Lose weight

Get organized

Learn a new skill or hobby

Live life to the fullest

Save more money / spend less money

Quit smoking

Spend more time with family and friends

Travel more

Read more

As I ponder this list it seems that we want more of the things that build us up and less of the things that drag us down. In the #teachermyth twitter chat on January 8, moderator Aaron Hogan put forth a challenge to look at how we use our time and how to “find” time in our day for the things that matter to us and eliminate those things that do not serve us well.

I made the decision, at that moment, to delete the FaceBook app from my phone. I had already been pondering (for about a year and a half) cutting off the cable TV, so I made the phone call the next day to make that happen. You see, when I feel overwhelmed and overloaded, I simply want an escape. That’s when I start mindlessly scrolling through FB on my phone, just to kill time. Before I am aware of it, whatever time I had is gone and I’m frantic to get to the next place. It may have been 2 minutes or 30 minutes, but it’s time that is gone and will not be returned to me. On non-school days, I love to wake up and leisurely enjoy my coffee. That’s a great way to start the day…until it turns into sitting in the recliner, scrolling through social media and watching the news/morning show until the noon news comes on! Wow! I was awake at 6am, where did the time go???  That is what social media and cable TV can do to me. 

I don’t know how many other people have this issue, but it’s real for me. It gets in the way of the things I really want to do. The household projects I want to accomplish, the time I want to spend with my family (I have 2 teenagers, time is SHORT), reading articles that can really open my eyes and push my teaching practice, writing to elected officials about education issues, sewing patches on my son’s scout uniform, organizing my folk song collection, researching setting up centers in the music classroom, supporting national board candidates, writing my blog for Stories from School! All of the things that I never “have enough time” to accomplish. There is a lot of time that I have spent doing “nothing.” 

Now here I sit, 2 weeks after the challenge was presented. There is no FaceBook app on my phone and no cable TV in my home. I have read two books, just for fun, watched 3 documentaries with my daughter (GREAT conversations), finished my blog before it’s due, prepared learning centers for 4th and 5th-grade music classes and read the newspaper each day. Monumental changes? No, but they have made a big difference in my mental state. I’m calmer, more focused, and I’m not late!

What are some things that you can do to “find time” in your day? It doesn’t have to be a huge change. One of my running friends reminds me frequently: Small changes over time create a big difference. I put out a call (yes, on FaceBook), for teachers to share ways they have “made” time in their day. Here are some of the responses:

clear rubrics for grading projects and writing

Using Google forms for self-grading quizzes 

Using a “grading station” to discuss grades and give feedback to students (this teacher is in high school)

only checking/responding to school emails at school

Can you help me expand this list? Some areas to consider:

planning time

beginning of day

end of day

social media


What works for you? What are you considering? I’d love to hear your suggestions for carving out or finding more time in your day!

Other blogs on resolutions and finding time:

Rachel Perugini suggests a 30-day challenge.   

Aaron Hogan: Deleting Distractions


Susan Collins began her teaching career in 1991 in rural Mississippi. She served in 4 different communities in central and north Mississippi as a music educator, mostly elementary general music with one year as a middle school band director. She stepped out of working full-time in the classroom for 9 years when her children were very young but never left teaching. She set up an early childhood music studio and taught music from birth to age 5 (with an adult caregiver). Susan moved to Kingman in northwest rural Arizona in 2016 where she teaches k-5 general music. Susan achieved National Board Certification in the fall of 2016, just after moving to Arizona. She has served as a 2017-18 Arizona Hope Street Group Teacher Fellow and a Candidate Support Provider for National Board Candidates. She is passionate about advocating for the needs of rural schools and ensuring that every student receives an excellent education. When she is not teaching, advocating, or writing about education issues, she is outdoors hiking, reading, and going to musical performances. She can often be found off the grid pondering her next writing piece!

Comments 10

  1. Beth Maloney

    I love this idea, Susan! So many people ask me how I do everything and I always laugh because I have just enough time as everyone else. I’m just very organized! For example, I started adding my daily workouts to my calendar, therefore setting an appointment for myself. When I get the reminder email, I don’t delete it until the workout is complete. It works for me!

    1. Susan Collins

      Another great idea! We all have the same amount of time, it’s how we choose to organize it that makes the difference.

  2. Caitlin Corrigan

    I started using Google Forms for grading tests, and it saves so much time! It takes a while to train my students (2nd graders) on what to do, but they can definitely do it! It saves me so much time and I would have them take every test that way if I could. Well, almost every test.. Writing tests or assignments are a different story.

    1. Susan Collins

      I hadn’t thought of that until someone else mentioned it! What a great time saver if you have the available technology

  3. Jaime Festa-Daigle

    I try to be careful about sending emails in the evening. Although it is clearning my list for the next day, I always struggle when people answer me. I didn’t mean for them to. So, while I check emails, I try to not send emails within my organziation until the morning.

    1. Jess Ledbetter

      Such a good point. I’ve used the “scheduled send” response before when I need to get an email written but don’t want the person to think that I am typically available to respond at that time. That way, I can get it off my mind so I don’t have to come back to it–without creating an expectation that I write back to email around the clock. Also, I’ve never added my work email app to my phone. I only login through the website occasionally if I am away from work on a workday and unable to use a computer. It’s so hard to have balance when work emails are coming through at home. (Of course, I don’t think administrators have the luxury of this choice! One of the perks about being at a teacher level).

  4. Jess Ledbetter

    This year, I started using the Remind App to communicate with parents. It has been AWESOME to save time! Instead of having to print little reminder tags for backpacks like “Scholastic due tomorrow,” I can send out a group reminder. It has also made it easier to communicate about things like absences, scheduling IEPs, and sharing photos of kids engaged in learning. I think it has made my relationship with families stronger (a good investment in saving time in the future). Perhaps this is not a good thing, but I don’t feel as much pressure to carefully choose my words (like I do in email). It’s a more relaxed way to communicate with families to get the same point across. I have also found out more details about my students and their home life (making it easier to connect with the kids and know what they need). Love. Love. LOVE Remind!

  5. Mike Vargas

    Susan I am going back and reading blogs and I just have to say I read this one again because I too want so very much to unplug my FB and go dark for a while. I hope one of these days I can pick your brain on what it did for you..

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