5 Simple Hacks That Will Cut Your Planning Time In Half

Smart Classroom Management: 5 Simple Hacks To Cut Your Lesson Planning Time In Half One of the many benefits of exceptional classroom management is that it saves time.

With far fewer disruptions, you’re free to focus on student learning.

You’re free to teach and inspire and build influential relationships.

You’re free to recede into the background just to observe, to think, and to make adjustments.

In other words, you’re free to do your job.

It also allows you to spend your mental energy preparing great lessons rather than figuring out how to better control your class.

Which leads us to the first of five simple hacks that will cut your planning time in half.

1. Be a classroom management expert.

When you never have to consider how poorly your students may react to moving around the room, breaking into spontaneous groups, playing learning games, etc., then planning becomes much, much easier.

You can prepare whatever lesson you see fit—fun, interactive, mundane, or otherwise—without concern or fear that it won’t go well. Nothing saves more time than good, solid classroom management.

2. Arrive early.

You’ll accomplish far more in the quiet of the morning than you ever will after school when distractions are great, energy stores are low, and the images of the day are still running through your head.

After a night’s rest, and a much needed break from teaching, your powers of concentration will be at their peak. Your thinking will be clear, efficient, and more objective. Your perspective, positive and healthy.

3. Plan first thing.

If first you check your email, visit the school office, or drop by a colleague’s classroom, you’re inviting distraction. You’ll get pulled into a discussion or lost in thought, and your planning time will disappear in the wind.

Dedicate your first block of time each morning to planning for the day or the week ahead. Shut your door, take a deep breath, and get down to it. No need to motivate yourself or get psyched up. Just begin, and the magic will happen.

4. Focus on one thing.

It’s also important to guard against distractions within your classroom. Avoid busying yourself with opening blinds, waking computers, and pulling down chairs. It can wait. Focus on planning and preparation, and nothing else.

Teachers who try to multitask (studies show it isn’t really possible), tend to be absentminded, stressed-out, and disorganized. They also get a lot less done and with poorer quality than those who attend to one thing at a time.

 5. Give yourself less time to plan.

Counterintuitive as it seems, when you give yourself less time to plan, when you set a deadline and stick to it, you’ll get more accomplished. If normally you give yourself 45 minutes to plan, instead try 30 or even 20 minutes.

Limiting your time—as long as it’s focused time—has an almost supernatural effect of speeding up your thinking. It immediately puts you into a flow state, where ideas are clear, solutions are apparent, and the path forward is obvious.

The Teacher You Were Meant To Be

Most teachers are overwhelmed with work.

They’re rushed and breathless. They don’t eat properly. They don’t get enough rest or exercise. They’re forever behind and straining to catch up.

It’s not possible to be an effective teacher this way.

It’s not possible to influence and inspire students when you’re not at your best, when you’re just trying to keep your head above water.

The five simple productivity shortcuts above will do wonders. Apply them consistently and your teaching life will slow down. The mental clutter will evaporate.

Stress will ebb away.

You’ll have more time to breathe and think and be the teacher your students so desperately need.

The one you were meant to be.

PS – If you’re a principal and would like to improve recess behavior, click here.

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8 Responses to 5 Simple Hacks That Will Cut Your Planning Time In Half

  1. Karen Orlemann August 20, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

    Which book do you recommend as a good resource for substitute teachers?

    • Michael Linsin August 21, 2015 at 7:52 am #

      Hi Karen,

      I’m sorry, I don’t have one to recommend.


  2. Anne Hembree August 31, 2015 at 4:13 am #

    How do I keep up with how many warnings I give a student? I teach over 125 children per day and just can’t remember names anymore!! I thought about putting a little piece of colored tape on their table but fear they will just tear it off…or a colored popsicle stick….will they just hide it?? Any ideas??

    • Michael Linsin August 31, 2015 at 6:41 am #

      Hi Anne,

      A simple clipboard and roster will do.


    • carolyn October 6, 2016 at 9:18 am #

      I just write their name on the whiteboard. It works.

  3. Lisa September 11, 2016 at 7:08 pm #

    Mr. Linsin,
    Sincere thanks for your blog. After 18 years in the classroom, I finally found effective management strategies which make sense.

    Question- what is your advice for dealing with students avoid any and all work/ related tasks?

    • Michael Linsin September 12, 2016 at 7:42 am #

      Hi Lisa,

      There are articles in the archive that deal with motivating unmotivated students. However, The Happy Teacher Habits covers the topic in full.