Teachers have all been stuck in a negative cycle of procrastination when faced with large, difficult, or time-consuming tasks. Facing the task head-on seems too daunting and can provoke feelings of anxiety, so we instead put it off for later and focus on other less-urgent items. As the deadline approaches, we become even more anxious, last minute panic, compounding procrastination further.

Aside from the obvious downside of missing a deadline, procrastination comes at our own expense by preventing us from using our time efficiently. One way to prevent procrastination is by identifying your “power hours“—the blocks of time when you’re most productive—and arranging your demanding tasks for that time. For example, I personally find I’m most productive in the morning from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., before the business of the day requires more of my attention. You can then save your least productive times for smaller, more mundane tasks, meetings, e-mails, and phone calls.

I use my power hours to write that letter to the parents about a controversial topic, design programs and prepare for the day. I should add here that I am also more productive on Monday and less on Friday. So all difficult conferences, meetings, and projects are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, if possible.

I find that grading student papers and assessments require something between Monday and Friday energy level. Grading with grace and understanding requires more attention than I can give on a typical Friday. To know your specific idiosyncrasies in terms of energy level and attention span is to know and plan to give your very best to each and every student!

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