Some people may wonder if you are really THAT busy all day in the library… do you get those questions like I do? I have to smile and giggle a bit when I walk away! Librarians are just as busy as classroom teachers and honestly, sometimes our schedule is EVEN more hectic with very few breaks throughout the day and back-to-back classes!
Let’s discuss time management for a second. Time management can make or break you as a librarian (and a classroom teacher). Your days are BUSY! Your time is PRECIOUS! Taking work home and staying late is just no fun so let’s talk about some tips for how to have better time management skills. Back to school season is always the best time of year for this topic!
I’ve been at this a long time now and I’d like to think that I’ve learned a thing or two over the many years in the library about time management. Here are my 5 tips to have THE BEST time management skills around.
1. Start each day with a specific purpose
Leave yourself a note or a list of a couple of things that must be accomplished first that day. I like to make this list before I leave the day before. Then you don’t waste any time trying to remember what it is you needed to do. I don’t make a list for the whole week. Instead, I simply list 2-3 things that I want to accomplish the next day when I arrive at work to help me stay ahead of schedule.
2. Use a 5-minute break wisely
Have 5 minutes to spare during the day? Try making your list for supplies/activities that you need to prepare for next week’s lessons or creating a sign-up genius to send out for library times or 5th-grade student helper sign-up.
3. Keep the coworker conversations to a minimum
We all have friends at work and it would be super easy to spend 30 minutes a day catching up with coworkers as they walk by or come in during their plan time. It’s hard to do at times but I will chat for 5-10 minutes and then let them know that I need to go finish my task at hand. We are all educators and understand that the to-do list is never-ending in our profession.
4. Assign tasks to certain days of the week
Something that has helped me tremendously with time management and just organization in general is assigning tasks to certain days of the week. For example, I like to make all of my copies on Tuesdays and do all of my lesson planning for grades K-2 on Wednesdays and grades 3-5 on Thursdays. I use my trusty paper planner to keep track of all of this and when I can cross it off when finished in my planner, there is great satisfaction in that! I also keep track of any meetings and duties in my planner as well.
5. Use older students to your advantage
If you are not lucky enough to have a library aide (or even if you are), use older students at your school to your advantage! Since I work in the elementary setting, I like to use 4th and 5th graders to help me do tasks around the library that help to free up a lot of my time! Some things I have them help with are reshelving books, cutting out lamination, basic book repair if possible and creating book displays. They can also help with putting up posters and decorating as well, just have the supplies ready for them. They will feel helpful and you will feel productive by keeping up on all of these “daily things.”
Remind yourself that you simply can’t do it all. Prioritize your tasks and do what you can. Don’t beat yourself up over not being able to do it all. If you use a to-do list, always make it realistic. Stick to 3 things per day to accomplish so you don’t get overwhelmed. It can be easy to become overwhelmed as an educator but we are all busy and doing the best that we can!
What tips do you have for time management in the library?