As afterschool program leader, you have a lot on your plate. From large projects to smaller administrative tasks, you’re responsible for providing a safe, nurturing and well-supervised program for students day after day.
It’s important to prioritize your day and build a schedule that’s both realistic and manageable. It’s easy to skip these steps and instead wing it. But the key to having efficient, productive and relatively stress-free days is learning how to effectively manage your time.
10 Time-Management Tips to Help Afterschool Professionals Stay on Track
In your role, you can count on having an extensive to-do list on any given day. Here are 10 tips to help you effectively manage your time and feel accomplished at the end of the day:
Plan ahead. Don’t jump into the day without a clear idea of what needs to be done. Take 15 minutes the day before or at the start of the day to plan your tasks and activities. This helps you set priorities and start your day on a productive note.
Complete most important tasks first. The first hour of work is usually the most productive. Use that time wisely by scheduling an uninterrupted “power hour”. Tackle big projects and tasks, like creating fun, engaging activities for your program or building a marketing plan to recruit more students. Handle smaller, administrative tasks, like answering emails and creating reports, afterwards.
Avoid procrastination. It may be easy to avoid completing a task until the very last minute. And it may even work for you. But getting an early start on a task reduces stress and improves the quality of your work. It’s also a way to ensure that your schedule stays intact rather than using an entire day to complete a task before it’s due.
Establish systems and processes. Your role as program leader involves many routine tasks, like creating reports or completing supply order requests. The key is to build a step-by-step process for completing these tasks. Write it down, follow it each time and you will become more efficient at completing it over time. And efficiency leads to productivity!
Keep your systems organized. Being organized saves you a lot of time and energy. Take time to organize your file systems, email, reports, program materials, etc. Not only does it help you find items quicker. It also reduces stress and eliminates clutter.
Eliminate distractions. Email notifications. Social media. Phone calls or unexpected visits from friends and co-workers. These are all things that can distract you from getting things done. And leaders like you spend nearly three hours a day, on average, tending to interruptions at work. Turn off app notifications, set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” and find quiet areas to work alone. Constantly starting and stopping interrupts your focus and causes you to spend more time than needed on certain tasks.
Use time-management tools. You may need some help keeping track of your schedule. Use a planner or apps like Wunderlist and 135 List to build a to-do list and prioritize your day. These apps will also send alerts and reminders to help you stay focused and on task throughout the day.
Batch similar tasks together. Do related work at the same time, or in batches. Divide your work into core categories, like staffing, program development, site management and administrative. For example, if you need to make calls to parents, school administration and vendors, schedule a time to make all of your calls at once. It streamlines the process and saves you time in the long run.
Learn to delegate. You’ve hired a talented and dedicated staff. Trust them to help you carry some of the load. Look for opportunities to pass on responsibility for specific tasks, like checking attendance, managing tuition or preparing materials for the day. This frees up time for you to focus on more important tasks.
Schedule downtime. Take time throughout the day to slow down, relax and take a mental break. Whether it’s to take a short walk, eat a snack or simply sit quietly, scheduling downtime can boost your mood, energy and productivity.
In your role, the to-do list may never seem to end. Use these tips to effectively manage your time and end your day feeling productive and accomplished. Do you have any tips to add? Share your time-management strategies below!