6 Ways to Prioritize During Busy Times of the Year

By Kirsten Hammond

Ready or not, the holiday season is here!

In this whirlwind of Black Friday sales, family gatherings, potlucks, and gifting, it can get overwhelming for teachers. You may find yourself being stretched too thin in your work life or personal life.

Prioritizing your time and optimizing and improving your daily schedule can alleviate some of those pain points.

How to Optimize Your Time in Busy Seasons

Here are six small ways to optimize your time during this busy time of year in order to avoid stress, burnout, and biting off more than you can chew.

1. Pinpoint Your Must-Do

Make a written to-do list on what your day needs to be done.

On your written list, rank the MOST important tasks that absolutely need to be completed.

From there, pick one important must-do each day. It could be something as simple as cleaning the kitchen or as big as taking a Sunday to meal-prep for the week.

sticky note

2. It’s Okay To Say No

Know when to say no.

I know it can be hard, especially if you are a people-pleaser like I am! But before you know it, you end up with too many things on your plate, which can be a recipe for a high-level of stress.

Maybe you don’t feel comfortable traveling during the holidays and your in-laws are pressuring you to join in the festivities.

If you already feel overwhelmed, its okay to say no in a kind way. Most people will generally understand.

3. Keep Track of Time

Utilize a calendar planner to keep track of daily tasks, appointments, or conferences and meeting.

Use an alarm or timer for when you are leaving for work, when you are leaving work, and if you are a teacher, any time you transition with your students (e.g. for lunch or recess).

4. Keep School Work at School

You know when you are in a rush and you tell yourself , “I’ll just take some papers home to grade”?

Try as hard as you can to keep those papers at school! 

Try not to work past your contracted hours, or choose 1 or 2 days to get work done before or after school. Your health and your needs come first; everything else comes after.

reading a book with coffee

5. Recharge and Reset

Find time in your day to rest and not do anything business or school-work related.

Do something you enjoy, get a massage, have a spa day, garden, binge-watch your favorite shows, or don’t do anything at all! Sometimes we need those days.

6. Block It Out

If you don’t want to commit to de-activating your social media during this time of year, try deleting the apps off your phone.

Set office hours on when you will check and respond to emails.

My Experience With Prioritizing Tasks

In the 2020-2021 school year I was extremely stressed getting emails from work at all hours of the day and on weekends.

Deleting my work email off of my phone helped alleviate the stress tremendously! Doing this personally as helped me worry less about work and I no longer receive the occasional parent evening email that I so badly want to respond to.

Find time to give yourself grace and enjoy this season, especially given the year its been. Use these ways to prioritize and optimize your time for a more productive and less-stressful busy season!

plants by window

If you are a teacher and are itching for more ways you can be optimizing your time, especially in the classroom, check out 20 Time Management Strategies in The Southern Teach Store!

time management strategies

kirsten hammond

Kirsten is a former 3rd and 5th grade teacher who loves helping upper elementary teachers by creating resources and sharing ideas that are engaging, research-based, and TEKS-aligned. She is a work-from-home mama of 3 rambunctious little ones and loves running, true crime, and lots of coffee.

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