How To Shorten Your Work Day
In The Happy Teacher Habits, I covered several ways to leave work at a decent hour.
This is important because it . . .
Makes the job more enjoyable.
Frees you to enjoy your family and hobbies.
Helps you avoid burnout.
Gives you energy.
Makes you more excited for each day.
Efficiency has been a priority for me for the past 31 years of teaching. It’s a big reason why I continue to teach, with zero plans to retire.
But you have to be purposeful about it.
Former Navy Seal and author Jocko Willink has a book called Discipline Equals Freedom, and I think it’s absolutely true. To make room for life outside of school, you must have discipline.
You must have strategies in place to guard your time and enhance your ability to focus. One of the best is to place strict limits on your daily schedule.
For example, unless there is an unusual and unplanned incident that I must be involved in, I leave school at the same time every day.
I know this. It’s with me always and otherwise cannot be changed. What this does—and here is the real benefit—is force me to be intentional.
It forces maximum efficiency, creativity, directness, and clarity of speech and thought.
By limiting your time, you become sharper. You become more organized, foresighted, and systematic. It becomes who you are, the way you think and move.
Giving yourself less time is based on a well-known phenomenon called Parkinson’s Law.
Quoting from The Happy Teacher Habits:
“Parkinson’s Law is the tendency for organizations and individuals to expand a task in complexity and importance in relation to the time given for its completion.
In other words, if you give yourself an hour to prepare for a day’s teaching, then you’ll fill the whole hour, often with obstacles and difficulties you would have never encountered had you allowed yourself only half the time.”
The key is to do it every day.
Have constraints in place for when you arrive in the morning and leave for the day. The deadlines will naturally allow your brain to subconsciously do what it needs to do.
If you have x-amount of things to get done, you’ll figure out a way to do it. It will come to you as long as you trust the computer sitting atop your shoulders.
The amazing thing about Parkinson’s Law is that because it enhances creativity and concentration, and forces you to rely on your best instinct, the product is better.
I recommend getting started by creating a firm time for leaving school that moderately challenges you to get your work done. When that no longer becomes a challenge, shrink the deadline.
Keep shrinking until you reach the perfect departure time.
You’ll be astonished by how much you’ll accomplish. For most people just trying the strategy the first time, they’ll see their efficiency improve drastically. And it won’t be a rushing, scatter-brained experience.
You’re not moving faster per se, you’re getting smarter and more discerning, which translates to speed. You may even find yourself physically slowing down and becoming calmer.
There is more to this topic, including how to say no, limit your screen time, plan a lesson in two minutes, and set parameters on specific tasks.
We’ll be sure to cover these and more in future posts. In the meantime, if you have questions, please leave them below and I’ll get to them in an upcoming video.
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