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14 Productivity Hacks for Teachers (Including Blueprint Storage Rack)

blueprint storage rack

We often put productivity hacks with the 9-to-5 office job or overworked college students acing finals. But what about teachers and children? With the new school year just getting started, teachers are busy as ever. Children too are in that transition phase from summer to kicking school off with new homework assignments and projects. It’s safe to say, it wouldn’t hurt to have some productivity hacks. Read to learn how teachers can leverage stereotypical “office hacks” in the classroom so he/she can have a more productive and manageable school day. (# includes blueprint storage racks!)

1. Pomodoro Technique for Kids

We’ve discussed the Pomodoro Technique in our last article. In case you’re unfamiliar with the technique, this method involves doing an activity for 25 minutes straight. After the 25 minutes are up, you take a 5-minute break. After working four 25-minute increments, you are rewarded a 15- to 20-minute break.

How to incorporate it in the classroom?

The Pomodoro Technique is great for clear, straightforward tasks. In other words, spontaneous tasks—such as free time—may not work with this technique.

Instead, use it when students are doing individual work. Perhaps you’ve taught addition and subtraction and children are practicing addition problems? After the 25-minute period is up, children can take a 5-minute stretch break? Especially given children’s short attention spans, this technique rewards students for their focus. Teachers can also apply this method to grading papers and creating lesson plans, effectively getting more done in less time.

2. Peak Productivity Times

Every student has their own productivity peak time. Some may be in the morning, others in the afternoon, and some after lunch. Observe classroom behavior, noticing when children are paying attention and when they’re inattentive. You don’t have to record peak times down. Simply, making a mental note of when your students are most engages will make planning scholastic activities easier.

You can plan new concepts and lessons around the most attentive time period. While scheduling free time and activities that involve concepts students are familiar with at the least attentive.

3. Meditation

Meditation has been linked with increased focus. Not to mention, reducing stress and increasing happiness.[1] Why not incorporate it in the classroom? Even taking 5 minutes out of the day to teach children how to sit still can have positive benefits. Try meditating at the beginning of the day, setting an intention on the type of school day you and your students want to have.

4. Free Time

Otherwise called innovative creative time, this time period is for creative exploration.[2] Since students are going from one activity to the other, always in the “doing” mode, it helps to change things up and allow students time to innovate. During this time, children can draw, build blocks, read…—anything that has to do with thinking outside of the box.

5. Designate a Specific Time to Check Your Email

It’s hard throughout the school day for teachers to have any free time, let alone time to check their email and make the most of the break that they have. By designating a specific time, teachers don’t need to go through emails on their days off or after school. This leaves them more time to relax at home and come to school the next day feeling refreshed.[3]

6. No Busy Work

It’s easy (and, at times, necessary) to pile on the practice work. But busy work—work that’s simply for the sake of doing—isn’t productive and, in fact, doesn’t help anyone. When planning assignments, simply ask yourself what the purpose of this assignment is? If it takes you a minute or so, chances are, it’s more busy work than productive work. If you’re on the fence, perhaps it’s not so much the lesson that needs to be changed but how the lesson is conveyed.

7. Have a Plan B

It’s a student’s birthday. There’s a fire drill. Today’s an assembly. There will always be events that interrupt the regular school day. Having a plan B makes it easier when dealing with these interruptions. And plan B can be as simple as doing the other half of the activity the next day.

8. Make Organization Fun

Let’s face it, students aren’t running to clean up and organize. That’s because it’s treated more as a chore than a game. Make organization fun by choosing a random, mysterious object that needs to be put away. Then, tell students that whoever picks the mystery item up wins a prize. (Of course, you don’t let on what the item is.) After the cleanup period is over, reward the student who picked up the random item.

You can also have a cleanup song. When students hear the song, they know it’s time to clean up.

You can also encourage teamwork by setting the timer. Students must try to cleanup before the time is up.[4]

9. Don’t Multitask

As we’ve mentioned in our other blog posts, our brains have a hard time multitasking. We think we may be experts, but, according to science, we actually spend more time jumping around from activity to activity. Try to create a learning environment where students are encouraged to only do one thing at a time. This will help keep student’s attention and decrease stress.

10. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

We often clump scheduling with meticulous color coding and post-its. But, in reality, scheduling works best when you do it your way. You can literally take out a sheet of paper and jot a few notes down. 5 minutes. Done.

11. Print Lesson Plans the Night Before

Make it a point to print your lesson plans the night before. That way, you don’t forget them at home. Or need to wake up a minute or two earlier to print them out.

12. Store Students’ Artwork in Blueprint Storage Rack

The blueprint storage rack cuts down on space while decreasing clutter. Conveniently place one of the racks next to cubbies or in the corner. Each blueprint hanger can hold up to 60 pieces of artwork. If you have a class of 30 students, that’s 2 pieces of artwork they did during the week. The blueprint storage rack allows piles not to build and helps keep the classroom clean and tidy.

13. Try to Only Do Work at the Class

While your students may leave around 2 or 3, you have lesson plans to go over, projects to grade, and permission slips to check off. You’re looking at least at 2 hours of extra work. Did you know that you’re the most productive 3 hours out of the day? According to an Inc. article, the average employees only work to the max for 2 hours and 53 minutes.[5]

So, spending extra time at home working won’t really solve the productive problem. Try to do work at your most productive peak time of the day. If you can’t, make it a point to only do work at the classroom. That way, you’re able to separate work from home and can decompress on your commute back home.

14. Work According to Your Age Group

Did you know an 18-year-old works differently than a 35-year-old? Yep, according to CNN Health, your prime work schedule depends on your age. Late teens to early to mid-twenties sleep and wake up later than older adults.

This is because of the levels of melatonin that are released during certain period of the day. In the young adults’ case, that’s later in the day. People in this age bracket then would probably do the best work after 10 am.

People in their mid-twenties to thirties could create a schedule based on their own preferences but be mindful of irregular shift work, which could have adverse health effects based on one’s own genes. Forty and above, the article stated, should try to do less than 25 hours a week of work so to not be fatigued.

Depending on your age, it may be beneficial to try out the corresponding schedule.

Summary

  • Use the Pomodoro Technique for kids; have them work on individual activity for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break
  • Observe when students are the most attentive, and then schedule the most in-depth lessons around that time
  • Incorporate daily meditation into the classroom to promote focus
  • Carve out free time for students to create and innovate
  • Choose a specific time to check emails so you have more time to spend relaxing at home
  • Ask yourself if you’re assigning busy work when making lesson plans
  • Have a Plan B for your Plan A
  • Make organization fun with games
  • Encourage a no-multitask environment where students are only focused on one thing at a time
  • Print lessons the night before
  • Incorporate a blueprint storage rack into your classroom
  • Only work at class
  • And work according to your age group

Use all the tips or some, whatever works for you and your class. For any questions or comments, contact us!

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[1] Huffington Post: 8 Ways Meditation Can Improve Your Life

[2] The Mission: 11 Amazing Productivity Hacks That Will Improve Your Life

[3] Forbes: Productivity Hacks That Successful People Use Every Day

[4] Education World: Keep It Clean! Quick Ideas for Clean-Up Activities

[5] Inc: In an 8-Hour Day, the Average Worker is Productive for This Many Hours

15 Ways to Be More Productive (#7 Includes Blueprint Racks Storage!)

blueprint racks storage

Do you feel overwhelmed juggling all of your commitments—work, friends, family, finances, health, hobbies, passions?

Do you feel like the doggy paddling to stay afloat in life seems like it’ll never end?

If so, you’re not alone. Actually, according to the Atlantic, you really only have around 30 hours of leisure per week.[1]

When you break it up over a 7-day, 168-hour week, that’s not a lot. (It’s little more than a full day!).

How do you make the most of it? What productivity tools can you use to increase that number (or at least not decrease it!).

Read on to find out! Plus, #7 includes productivity office furniture hacks such as using blueprint racks storage.

1. For 15 Minutes, All You Do Is Organize

Dedicate 15 minutes a day to only organization. This time could be used at home or the office, just as long as it’s consistently taken. [2]

For instance, take those 15 minutes to sort cluttered paper into 3 productivity piles: do, read, and file.

Then, on the next day, you can take 15 minutes to file the papers in the “file” pile, schedule in when and how to get the “to do” papers done. And skim over the “to read” papers to determine how much time you’ll need to dedicate in order to fully ingest the material.

2. One In, One Out

You can also spend those 15 minutes going through your office, tossing out junk you have no use for. Use the one in, one out rule to speed up the process.[3]

Basically, this rule calls for tossing out one item for every item you add to your office space.

You can even go as far to apply this rule to mandatory items such as receiving a new FEMA binder from your boss.

(You’d then toss out an unnecessary item—like the old, outdated one. Or that dead plant that’s an eyesore on your desk.)

3. Accomplish Goals by Prioritizing

Most people either don’t accomplish or procrastinate on their goals because they’re too big and overwhelming. To decrease the stress and turn an unmanageable project into a source of accomplishment, list and break down the goals.

This should be done each day and week. For example, let’s say you want to finish an in-depth report by the end of the week. Give it a number. How much of a priority is it for you? Does this take precedence in your work life?

If it is, it gets a number one. You’re going to then map out steps you need to take to get the job done. (And these will take precedence over the other steps for lesser goals.) In other words, finish the daily steps to getting that report done first before you start working on that bid.

4. Schedule in Time for the “Trivial Things”

According to Entrepreneur, it takes on average 26 minutes to get back on track after doing a trivial thing.[4]

Some trivial things include checking email and social media, IM’ing with a co-worker, taking an additional 15 minutes to go through the paper piles, throwing unnecessary paper and clutter away, and so forth.

The article goes on to state that taking time out to do unnecessary and unimportant tasks really hampers how productive your work day is.

While let’s face it, your email does need to get checked. Social media channels need to be updated to promote your products and/or services. And you enjoy those 10 minutes of IM’ing Alex about after-work plans.

That’s fine. Schedule them into your day. Plan on checking your email when you first come in, before and after lunch, and right before you leave. Set similar times for social media. (Or, better yet, assign the social media task to an intern.) And, as for IM’ing, set aside work breaks (which we’ll go more into detail) to talk with Alex.

5. Schedule Breaks to Avoid Burnout

Working nonstop for (at least) 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is a recipe for burnout. Those stressful hours won’t be put to productive use. Instead, you’ll be focusing your energy on not losing your concentration, falling asleep, or staring into space aimlessly.

That’s why you need to schedule breaks throughout your work day.[5] And not just one but multiple. Take a 10-minute break after you get done with 2 hours of writing that report. Schedule a 15-minute break 2 hours after lunch.

You can even schedule them more frequently; whatever works for you. (Read on to learn the Pomodoro Technique, which makes break taking easy and doable!).

6. Divvy Up Onsite and Offsite Tasks

Back to that report that’s due Friday. Let’s say you need to still do research, call a couple of clients, and write the first draft. Divide up the onsite and offsite tasks.[6]

That time would be put to good use with no interruptions from co-workers. In this case, these tasks would be best done offsite, where you can control the level of interruptions and collaboration.

On the other hand, collaboration and idea-bouncing tasks are great to have onsite. Perhaps you can have one of your co-workers read your first draft and give you feedback. Then juggle some ideas back and forth on how to write the second draft.

7. Be Picky with Your Office Furniture (Consider Blueprint Racks Storage)

You have a limited amount of work space in your office or cubicle. You don’t want bulky file cabinet to take up 25% of it.

It’s ok to move furniture around and invest in organizational and productive-friendly pieces— such as blueprint racks storage, which has poly hangers that can hold approximately 50 prints each.

8. 1-3-5 Rule

Apply the 1-3-5 Rule[7] daily. 1 being one big task, 3 medium tasks, and 5 smalls tasks. Yes, this makes up 9 individual tasks to do.

While it may seem like a lot, remember the level of time you need to accomplish each will vary (i.e. the one big task taking the most, the 5 small tasks taking the least.)

Try tackling the big task first, then the medium, and lastly the small. That way, you’re not burned out at the end of the day when all you have to do is check your emails and file your documents.

9. Pomodoro Technique

Remember scheduling in those breaks? Well, the Pomodoro Technique[8] does that for you. Basically, you focus for 25 minutes on work, no interruptions or diversions.

Then, after that 25-minute work period, you take a 5-minute break. For those 5 minutes, get up, stretch, use the restroom, fill up your coffee cup, do anything other than work.

Once the clocks up, do another 25-minute period and repeat.

10. Say It

Tell a co-worker when you plan to submit your part of the project.

Email the client when you’ll give them your bid.

The point is, tell someone. Put it out into the universe. By doing this, you make more of a commitment to getting it done because it’s harder to break a commitment with others than with yourself.[9]

11. Get a “Do Not Disturb” Sign for Your Office

Sometimes, you can’t physically leave your office and have to get “offsite tasks” done onsite. During those times, a “Do Not Disturb” Sign on your office door is your best friend.

If it’s an especially important task that needs your undivided attention, you can send out an email to co-workers an hour below telling them to not disturb you. Coupling that with the sign will ensure you tackle that task head on, without the unnecessary delays.

12. Take 15 Minutes at the End of the Day to Plan for Tomorrow

Yes, you’ll need to take an additional 15 minutes. But this time, it’s at the end of your day. Your last 15 minutes will be spent jotting down to-dos for tomorrow. Scheduling in last-minute items.

And planning on how you’ll organize your time the next day.

Summary

  • Take out 15 minutes to organize: Divide paper into 3 piles, marked do, read, and file
  • Toss out one item for every new item you bring to your office
  • Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize goals
  • Schedule breaks to monitor burnout
  • Use rules and techniques like the Pomodoro Technique and the 1-3-5 Rule to help you with this
  • Take scheduling a step further by dividing up offsite and onsite tasks
  • Should you not be able to leave the office, hang up a “Do Not Disturb” sign
  • Use verbal commitments to co-workers and clients to get more done
  • Be picky with your office space— consider pieces like blueprint racks storage
  • Have your last 15 minutes of your work day be dedicated to planning out tomorrow

From using these productivity tips, you should experience greater enjoyment at work and less stress in your life.

For more information about how to integrate organizational and productive-friendly furniture to make your day more successful, contact us!

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[1] The Atlantic: America’s Workers: Stressed Out, Overwhelmed, Totally Exhausted

[2] Huffington Post: 10 Incredibly Smart Ideas to Get Your Life Organized

[3] Forbes: How to Get Organized

[4] Entrepreneur: 10 Simple Productivity Tips for Organizing Your Work Life

[5] Entrepreneur: 10 Simple Productivity Tips for Organizing Your Work Life

[6] Entrepreneur: 10 Simple Productivity Tips for Organizing Your Work Life

[7] The Muse: A Better To-Do List: The 1-3-5 Rule

[8] Lifehacker: Productivity 101: A Primer to the Pomodoro Technique

[9] Inc: 23 Best Productivity Hacks of The Year