Time waits for no man, woman or teacher. The rule especially applies to teachers who are up to their eyes in lesson planning, marking, teaching, meeting and general red tape. Sound familiar? If so, you’re probably in desperate need of more time. But short of giving up sleep altogether, what can you do about it?

Well, the answer is plenty. We’ve put together a list to top tips to help you work smarter, not longer, so you can put down that red pen, go home and enjoy a relaxing evening, knowing you’re still an amazing teacher.

Create to-do lists.

Sounds obvious right? But you’d be surprised what a difference it can make to your day – it makes you more productive and saves you time trying to figure out what you need to do. Take time at the start of each day to write down tasks into three categories: essential, important and non-essential. Get the essential ones out the way and the important ones if you can. Don’t feel guilty about transferring any incomplete tasks to the next day.


A messy desk is not a great way to work. Just imagine how much time you’ll save by knowing where everything is and being able to find it? Keep only the things you’re working on your desk – the rest should be binned or filed away.

Only mark what's necessary.

By all means provide feedback but only mark what you have to and check with your school what the minimum policy is. Spending hours correcting every piece will eat into your time and spill over into your social life.

Learn to say no.

Are you the first to volunteer for extra-curricular activities? Remember, it’s okay to say no. By all means commit to projects you really enjoy but don’t be afraid to politely decline any others. 

Plan to stay late twice a week.

Taking work home is a reality of teaching but it will really impact on your personal life so try and avoid it at all costs. Plan to stay an hour or two later and get it done before you leave – you’ll be more productive without the distractions of home and you’ll be able to enjoy your evening without having a load of marking hanging over you. 

Plan long term.

Don’t just plan a week ahead. Plan for the entire term! Yes, it’s a faff but it’ll save you time in the long run if you have the whole thing mapped out early on. There are some great apps and online planning tools available. 

Plan home life.

It sounds stupid but it can actually make a real difference – schedule in time for you and your family. Plan meals and shop online for groceries. Diarise time at the gym or working on a hobby.

Remember, you can’t shorten lessons or send pupils home early so think about how you can utilise your time during the day – work smarter not harder and make sure to take well-earned breaks. You deserve them!