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"Either you run the day or the day runs you." Jim Rohn

Have you got a spare 10 minutes? Dede, shares her top tips on clawing back your free time.

For those 37 years I was in the classroom, not only did I teach three subjects, I also coached golf for 33 year and directed musicals and shows for 20 years, plus I served on many committees.  I learned very quickly that I had to become a good time manager to be able to fulfill all the requirements of my school jobs, plus my real life as a wife. I am willing to share a few ideas with you that worked for me.

First, I kept a giant desk calendar with everything I needed to know about my life and my jobs at just a glance.  You can read more about the calendar in a previous blog.

Next, I kept separate briefcases for each of my jobs.  I had a briefcase for my classes, as well as one for my job as golf coach, and another for when I directed the musical, and yet another for directing the talent shows. I can’t tell you how much time it saved me – no more looking through papers in one overstuffed and unorganized briefcase!  I left a few papers in there from year to year (in a manilla folder marked with the year), and when I needed an idea or to make a checklist of tasks to complete, I did not have to reinvent the wheel.

The school day is packed and teachers seldom have much time, but when a few minutes appeared, I did not waste them talking to friends or looking at my phone.  If I had just 10 minutes until a class, I used that time to call the parent who left a message earlier.  I explained that I had only 10 minutes, which meant the conversation did not drone on and on.  We cut to the chase and resolved the issue.  If I found another 5 minutes, I used it to input grades.  When you add up all the tiny increments of time in a week, a teacher can get quite a bit done, using that time wisely. Ten minutes is plenty of time to answer a parent email or complete a form for a student.

Teachers should set realistic goals.  Don’t make a list of things to do that is so long you are defeated before you begin.  Also, what can you delegate?  I always had great ideas for bulletin boards, but little time to implement them. My 10th graders were happy to come in during their study halls and create a beautiful and meaningful bulletin board, following my ideas, and adding their own.  Students enjoyed being involved and adding beauty and meaning to our classroom.  I liked the idea that students shared ownership of the classroom.

Another suggestion – use your commute time to and from school as planning time.  In the  mornings, I would plan what I needed to do and who I needed to see that day.  On the drive home, I reflected on accomplishments, and thought about what I needed to do for the next day.  This really worked for me.

I hope some of these tips can help you to get work done more quickly, so that you have more time for yourself and your family. Work and school are important, but your family should come first.  Good luck!


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The author

Dede Rittman is a 37-year veteran English/ Theater teacher from Pittsburgh, PA, teaching 35 years in the North Allegheny School District, where she also was Varsity Head Boys’ Golf Coach for 33 years, directed the spring musical and talent shows, and contributed to many district initiatives. She was a PA Teacher of the Year semi-finalist in 2011, the year she had to retire when her husband, Scott, was dying from stage four colon cancer. Dede’s book STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER was published in September 2014 and the book has won 8 awards. Nationwide, colleges and universities are using her book, and Dede accepts speaking engagements around the country, with some focusing on education, and some on motivation. She is a guest blogger for educational magazines and was the Co-host of The Total Education Q and A Show, which was heard around the world on 120 stations in 80 countries on Dede gives presentations around the globe on both of her books through and . Dede writes a weekly blog for teacher inspiration at GRADY GETS GLASSES, Dede’s children’s book, just came out in hardcover. The book won Best New Children’s Book 2016 from The Authors’ Zone. Dede has also won two Album of Distinction Awards from Delta Kappa Gamma in 2015 and 2017; the prestigious I AM L.E.E. (Living Education Everyday) Award in 2016; and she was inducted into the North Allegheny Sports Hall of Fame in October of 2017. Dede works very hard on promoting her books and speaking engagements. She enjoys continuing teaching grades kindergarten to college through her books!

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