Unit 1: Conditions & Connections

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Unit 2: Physical Well-Being
Unit 3: Social Well-Being
Unit 4: Emotional Well-Being
Unit 5: Mental Well-Being
Unit 6: Academic Well-Being
Unit 7: Character

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Unit 8: Citizenship

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Unit 9: Supplemental Lessons

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Lesson 27: Time Management

Markers or colored pencils

First Day of School Timelapse:


The Top Five Regrets of the Dying:


Big Rocks:


How To Manage Your Time More Effectively:


3 Rules for Better Work-Life Balance:


Your 3-Step Guide to Setting Better Boundaries at Work:


How to Be a Team Player – Without Burning Out:


  • I limit distractions to focus and use my time well at work.
  • I am realistic when estimating how long tasks take.
  • I plan my time and adjust as needs arise.
  • I say “no” and establish boundaries within my job.
  • I take breaks and spend time away from work.
  • I ask others for help and delegate.

Parent Guide

The purpose of this lesson is for teachers to consider how their use of time affects their success and well-being. Teachers will connect time management with their well-being, sort priorities using different criteria, discuss efficiency, reflect on their weekly schedule, collaborate about school culture, and explore the pros and cons of time management strategies.

Studies have shown that proper time management can alleviate stress and improve well-being and life satisfaction. Although many messages surrounding time management focus on efficiency and outcomes, the results from several studies showed that time management helps boost well-being more than it boosts performance. Of course, poor time management can impact the amount of work that we get done (think: distractions, interruptions, no boundaries, etc.). However, we should be wary of the trap of thinking that more time management (e.g., planning) equals more productivity. In fact, overplanning can actually diminish the amount that we get done due to analysis paralysis. 

No matter what system or strategy we use to manage our time, several tips are helpful in organizing our priorities and protecting the time that matters most:

  1. Say “no.” Develop criteria and be pickier about when you say “yes.”
  2. Prioritize. Organize tasks based on importance and deadlines.
  3. Limit distractions. Protect certain times (e.g., prep time) for what you need.
  4. Establish boundaries. Turn off phone/email notifications. Leave on time.
  5. Move tasks to tomorrow. Consider the risks of not completing a task today.
  6. Don’t waste time. Create efficient procedures to make work quicker.
  7. Know when to take a break. It is important to also relax and regain focus.
  8. Make adjustments. Plan in pencil and alter as needs arise.
  9. Use your energy wisely. Conserve energy in routines so you savor rituals.
  10. Ask for help. You are not alone in this work. Utilize peers, family, students.

(Source: “7 Time Management Tips to Transform Your Day” by Select Health)

Strong time management helps individuals to plan ahead, be early to appointments, accomplish little tasks, simplify demands, and increase reliability, all while eliminating unnecessary stress. Poor time management can definitely impact stress and overall wellness. Fortunately, that stress is completely avoidable.

Activity 1: (30 minutes) TIME & WELL-BEING

Watch the video, “First Day of School Timelapse,” by Dysart Schools. Begin with a disclaimer about this topic: “Teachers are organizational rockstars. Just think back on that time lapse and consider all of the things that you do that keep our school running like a well-oiled machine. You could all teach an excellent lesson about time management yourself, so this lesson is less about the dos and don’ts of time management and more about how your life and well-being is impacted by the demands and constraints of your time. You are the experts. I invite you to share wisdom that you have gained with your colleagues throughout the following activities.”

As a group, read through some snippets of research about time management and well-being. While each quote is read, ask teachers to raise their hand if the words that resonate with them based on personal experience or based on their observations of other educational professionals:

  • Too much busyness can be emotionally taxing. We may be too busy to attend to our needs, including our basic needs, like eating, sleeping, and social connection.” (Caitlin Nevins, PhD, Director of Psychological Services)
  • “Being busy can also lead to physical and emotional burnout, making us less effective in the tasks we are trying to achieve… When we coat sadness, anger, or loss with a layer of productivity, we aren’t able to process such feelings as effectively as when we face them directly.” (McLean Hospital)
  • “Time management training has a positive effect on improving anxiety, depression, sleep quality, and time management disposition of [middle-aged] women.” (Wang & Wang, 2018)
  • “Overall, this study offers the most comprehensive, precise, and fine-grained assessment of time management to date… Interestingly, we found that time management impacts well-being—and in particular life satisfaction—to a greater extent than performance. That means time management may be primarily a well-being enhancer, rather than a performance booster.” (Aeon, Faber, Panaccio, 2021)
  • “Most participants defined the ‘problem’ as their own private troubles, taking intensive, escalating, and boundaryless work-time demands as the new normal of work in the 21st century.” (Moen, et. al., 2013)
  • “If you’re constantly battling to maintain a balance of working, socializing, relaxing, self-care, and sleeping, then you might become burned out. Burnout appears most often as:
    • Fatigue (lower engagement with tasks and reduced energy levels)
    • Higher susceptibility to illness
    • A cynical or overly pessimistic outlook on work and life
    • A mental detachment from work

“One major problem with burnout is that many see it as an inability or unwillingness to perform or attribute it to other circumstances or conditions. Also, it’s hard to diagnose at the onset. As such, it can be difficult to realize that you’re burned out.” (McLean Hospital)

Have a discussion:

  • How can you tell when you are overloaded? What happens to your body, mind, etc.?
  • How does planning your time impact your feelings of well-being?

Activity 2: (30 minutes) PRIORITIES

Watch the video, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying,” by Bronnie Ware, a medical professional who worked with people with serious illnesses and kept anecdotal records of their life-long regrets. Share the list of the top 5 regrets:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

Read the quote and discuss how time can reflect our values:

Don’t add activities to your schedule for the wrong reasons, and end up spending your days doing things that don’t reflect your values and priorities. If you find yourself struggling to fit in what’s important, then necessities like adequate sleep and other healthy habits may fall by the wayside. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, make a list of what’s most important. List things like family, friends, and career. Then look at how you spend your days. See how much time goes to these things. Is it a good match, or are you spending an inordinate amount of time doing things that aren’t as important to you? It’s never too late to make changes.” (Elizabeth Scott, PhD)

Post the image and read through the quotes about habits, routines, and rituals.

Image Source: https://nesslabs.com/habits-routines-rituals

  • “A habit usually manifests itself as an automatic urge to do something, often triggered by a particular cue. The stronger the connection between the trigger and the habit, the more ingrained the habit.” (Anne-Laure Le Cunff)
  • “Both habits and routines are regular and repeated actions, but habits happen with little or no conscious thought, whereas routines require a higher degree of intention and effort. With enough time and the right techniques, routines can turn into habits, but it is not an automatic, unconscious process.” (Anne-Laure Le Cunff)
  • “The difference between a routine and a ritual is the attitude behind the action. While routines can be actions that just need to be done—such as making your bed or taking a shower—rituals are viewed as more meaningful practices which have a real sense of purpose… Rituals do not have to be spiritual or religious. What matters is your subjective experience. With rituals, you are fully engaged with a focus on the experience of the task, rather than its mere completion.” (Anne-Laure Le Cunff)

Pass out the Big, Medium, Small Rocks handout to each teacher. Invite them to fill out the handout based on their current priorities as they watch the video,“Big Rocks” by Franklin Covey. Go through each rock size and invite educators to call out some examples of big rocks, medium rocks, and small rocks. 

Ask for a raise of hands for who has a hard time saying no. Then post “10 Ways to Say No” by Erin Eatough, PhD at BetterUp. 

  1. Sadly, I have something else going on.
  2. I have another commitment.
  3. I wish I were able to.
  4. I’m afraid I can’t.
  5. I don’t have the bandwidth for that right now.
  6. I’m honored you asked me, but I simply can’t.
  7. Thanks for thinking of me. However, I’m not able to.
  8. I’m sorry, I’m not able to fit this in.
  9. Unfortunately, I already have plans. Maybe next time!
  10. No, thank you, but it sounds lovely.

Have a discussion:

  • What is most challenging about saying “no” at work?
  • How often does “no” mean “no” vs. “not right now”?
  • What is your personal criteria when choosing to say “yes”?

Activity 3: (30 minutes) TIMING

Watch the video, “How To Manage Your Time More Effectively (According To Machines,” by Brian Christian at TED-Ed.

Have a discussion: 

  • What can we learn about time management from machines?
  • How do you feel about comparing yourself to a machine?
  • Are you ever expected to run like a machine? If so, in what ways?

Read the quote: 

“A common time management trap many people fall into is that they don’t know where their time goes, or they overestimate the amount of time they have available and underestimate the amount of time each activity takes to complete, and become overcommitted. If this sounds like your days, you may need to keep a careful schedule, writing down everything you do. Don’t agree to new activities until you’ve found a way to pencil them in, overestimating the amount of time you think it will take to complete them.” (Elizabeth Scott, PhD)

Invite teachers to complete a quick challenge: 

  1. Think of an activity on your to-do list that you think will take 5 minutes. 
  2. Complete the task and record the time that it took. (10 minutes max)
  3. After 10 minutes have elapsed, come back together to discuss. 

Ask several teachers to share how their challenge went. Were they successful? Did they run out of time? Did they get close?

Have a discussion:

  • What things do you have to consider in order to best estimate how long tasks will take?
  • What affects how long our tasks take? (e.g., interruptions)
  • What tips would you give new teachers to maximize their prep time?
  • What time of day are you most productive? Why is that?

Activity 4: (20 Minutes) IDEAL SCHEDULE

Pass out the Ideal Weekly Schedule handout to each teacher along with some markers or colored pencils. Ask teachers to box out and label their regular weekly schedule, beginning with big and medium rocks. Encourage teachers to add in buffer time for things like travel time, finding a parking spot, and other preparations. Display the schedule example on the slides.

After the boxes and labels are added, ask teachers to color code their schedule using the color guide on the slide. They can simply outline the box in the color.

Color Schedule Category 
RED Urgent or Irregular (Hard to Remember)
PINK Social Events & Connection Time (Social)
ORANGE Brain Breaks or Hobbies (Mental)
YELLOW Time for Yourself & Self-Care (Emotional)
GREEN Exercise, Meals, or Medical (Physical)
BLUE Work, School, & Learning (Professional)
PURPLE A Category of Your Choice
GRAY Normal Activities That Do Not Have a Category
WHITE Open & Unplanned Time

Have a discussion: 

  • Does your schedule look more like a rainbow or more monochromatic? What might this mean?
  • Is it okay for your schedule to be less colorful? Why or why not?
  • Did you experience any surprises or ah-ha’s during this activity?
  • How can an ideal schedule be both helpful and harmful?
  • How often can you expect your ideal schedule to work out perfectly?

Activity 5: (30 minutes) SCHOOL DISCUSSION

As a group, watch 3 videos from the TED series “The Way We Work.” 

  • Video 1: “3 Rules for Better Work-Life Balance” (5 mins)
  • Video 2: “Your 3-Step Guide to Setting Better Boundaries at Work” (6 mins)
  • Video 3: “How to Be a Team Player – Without Burning Out” (5.5 mins)

After the videos, invite teachers to discuss various questions from the following list for 10 minutes:

  • How did the videos apply to our work?
  • Can collaboration save you time? If so, how?
  • In what ways can we be better at eliminating work or simplifying?
  • What are some norms that you think would be helpful to implement?
  • How can we kindly hold each other accountable for work-life balance?
    • How do you like to be encouraged in this area?
  • How do we sometimes wear busy as a badge of honor? 
  • How do our responsibilities affect our lives outside of school?
  • Who are some people that you can delegate to when you need it?
  • How can our school support a better work-life balance?

For the last 5 minutes, gather back together and have each group share a favorite thought that they discussed.

Activity 6: (30 minutes) TIME MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES

Divide the group into 8 teams. Post the list of strategies on the board and designate one strategy to each group.

Strategy 1: Pareto Analysis (a.k.a., the 80/20 rule)

Strategy 2: Pomodoro Technique

Strategy 3: Eisenhower Matrix

Strategy 4: Parkinson’s Law

Strategy 5: Time Blocking

Strategy 6: Getting Things Done (GTD) Method

Strategy 7: Rapid Planning Method (RPM)

Strategy 8: Eat That Frog Technique

Give teams 10–15 minutes to research, review, and rate their assigned strategy. One great resource is the blog: “9 Proven Time Management Techniques and Tools” by the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. However, teams can gather other resources, as well. Each group should prepare to present on their strategy by including the following: 

  • A summary of the time management strategy. (How does it work?)
  • The pros and cons of the strategy.
    1. What are the limitations of this strategy for educators?
    2. What are the benefits of this strategy for educators?
  • Could you adapt this strategy to work well for teachers? If so, how? 

After sufficient time, invite each group to present their strategy. Following every presentation, ask a number of staff which strategy they liked the best and why. You can even have educators create a quick rubric to score the strategies based on important criteria for them (e.g., preparation time, easy to implement, etc.).

  • What distracts or interrupts you most at work?
  • If you could change anything about our work to make it more efficient, what would you change and why?
  • What kinds of boundaries have you set with work? What additional boundaries would you like to set with work? 
  • What podcast, books, or other resources have you found helpful as you have developed your time management skills?
  • Do you know any teachers that manage to balance their work and home life well? What have you observed about them? What might their philosophy be?
  • Overestimate time for tasks.
  • Make a plan and adjust as needed.
  • Limit distractions to remain focused.
  • Say “no” to save energy for your commitments.
  • Establish habits, develop routines, and protect rituals.
  • Take breaks from work to fill your buckets in other ways.
  • Ask for help and delegate tasks on teams.