Time-blocking for teachers and trainers: manage your time to improve your wellbeing

In this article, Martine Ellis presents a wellbeing-centric approach to the popular time management strategy of time-blocking, tailoring it to the unique needs of teachers and trainers.

What is time-blocking?

Time-blocking is a time management method where you schedule specific tasks for defined periods in your day, turning your calendar into an organised collection of blocks of work. This method is about more than just keeping a to-do list; it's about dedicating specific chunks of time to individual tasks or groups of tasks, allowing you to concentrate on one thing at a time.

Time-blocking can help you take control of your day and work more efficiently. 


Teacher-specific productivity challenges

One of the biggest productivity challenges teachers face is completing non-teaching work in the gaps between lessons. Long stretches of uninterrupted time are rare in a teacher's working day, so doing any work that requires focus and concentration is difficult, leading to teachers working evenings and weekends.

Can time-blocking help?


How time-blocking can help teachers

The structured nature of a teacher's day lends itself surprisingly well to time-blocking. Since teachers already work on a timetable, their day is already partially time-blocked with lessons.

By time-blocking the rest of their day, teachers can create a more balanced and manageable schedule that fits within their existing timetable. Rather than cramming work into every available minute, they can allocate specific times for tasks like lesson planning, marking, responding to emails, and – most importantly – breaks.


Benefits of time-blocking

The main benefits of time-blocking are:

  1. Improved focus: time-blocking can help you concentrate on one task at a time, producing higher-quality work more efficiently.
  2. Reduced stress: knowing what you will work on and when you will do it can make your day less chaotic and reduce stress.
  3. Improved understanding of workload: scheduling all tasks means you have a realistic picture of your workload, enabling you to prioritise more effectively.


How time-blocking contributes to wellbeing

Time-blocking is about more than organisation; it can also improve your wellbeing by encouraging you to take regular breaks.

When scheduling your day, you should block out time for short breaks and a lunch hour. These breaks allow you to rest and recharge, making you more productive when you return to work.  

Time-blocking also helps you create "margin" in your day; this is extra time you can use when tasks take longer than expected. This cushion can reduce stress and help you stay on track.


Implementing time-blocking: practical tips

Are you ready to try time-blocking? Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Start small: block out a few tasks daily and gradually increase as you get comfortable with the method.
  2. Be realistic: don't try to fit too much into each block, and remember to schedule time for breaks.
  3. Stay flexible: if something urgent comes up, adjust your plan. The point of time-blocking is to help you, not to create a rigid structure that you can't deviate from.
  4. Prioritise wellbeing: block out your breaks first – remember that you will work more efficiently when rested. To do well, you need to be well.
  5. Use existing tools: your paper diary, Outlook calendar, or Google calendar lend themselves well to time-blocking. If you’d prefer to time-block in a separate application, TickTick or Morgen are strong solutions, as they both have task management and calendar capabilities.


Over to you

Now it's your turn to try time-blocking. Remember, this is about making your day easier, not harder. Start slow, be flexible, and adjust your time blocks to fit your needs. With some practice, time-blocking can help you feel more in control of your day and improve your overall wellbeing. 


Further reading


Martine Ellis (FSET ATS) is a writer, speaker, and trainer specialising in professional development and wellbeing-driven productivity.