This article was written by Ben Kissam — a middle school teacher and coach in Denver, CO. Check him out on his website.
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When you’re a teacher, January is like being stranded on an island. You’ve come so far, but still have a long way to go. Winter break is over, and spring break seems years away. A few of your kids are a little too comfortable with you. Testing is on the horizon. The seeds for end of the year projects have already been planted.
Take a moment and breathe. Look over these 8 apps, resources, services, and ideas. They will help you be more productive, add time back into your schedule, and perhaps give you something to look forward to. It’s not too often teachers get to think about themselves, but you deserve it.
Please note, all links are resources I personally use or have seen colleagues use, and were not included for affiliate purposes. Enjoy!
*Bored Teachers may receive a share of sales from only the Amazon links in this article. Prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of publication.*
Evernote was built to be an extension of your brain. The basic (free) version gives you access to notebooks, reminders, a web clipper (good for taking pictures for Powerpoints), and sharing notes with your colleagues. When you make an account, it will sync across 2 devices and update whenever wifi is available.
In my opinion, it’s the best tool out there for increasing productivity, collaborating, and staying organized. And it’s free. Here are 30 ways Evernote can improve your life.
Todoist is the ultimate to-do list app. Use it on Monday mornings to map out your action items for the week, or keep a running tally. It’s a simple, free app that helps you put stuff in your head down on paper, which research shows increases productivity.
Evernote has basic checklist features as well, so if you aren’t big on downloading a bunch of different apps, check that out.
There are many applications like Self-Control for iOS, but none that work better or are simpler to use. It sits on your desktop and can be programmed to block any websites you don’t want to visit for up to 24 hours. Many of us are masters of procrastination. If you seriously have to shut off the Netflix and grade papers or enter grades, this app will help you. If you aren’t an Apple person, here’s a similar app available for Android.
**Disclaimer: If you set the app, there is nothing you can do to unlock the sites you’ve banned if you change your mind early. You’ll have to wait for the timer to run out. Be careful how long you set the dial for until you get used to the app.
How often do you prep your meals for school? Are trips to buy lunch a regular thing Save time and money with the most valuable meal prep tool most people never think to use. Your standard 6-quart crockpot is a great way to make 2+ days worth of meals in one go. You can even set it before you go to bed, waking up to food you can bring to work the next few days.
Even on a teacher’s salary, a crockpot won’t break the bank. I bought this one for about $35 over four years ago, and it still works great. Here’s a page of easy slow-cooker recipes you can use on your busy days to get started. Pot roast and vegetables, anyone?
How would it feel to get home from work and have your groceries waiting for you on the front step? Following the consumer-to-consumer trend that has changed the world in recent years, Instacart hires people pick out groceries for those who don’t have time or energy to shop for themselves.
If you live in a major U.S. city, Instacart is usually free. No matter what, you can try the service once for free. Register an account and use it when going to the grocery store is 1 of 263 things you have to do some Friday in the next 2 months. If you like picking our own produce or don’t trust the judgment of a stranger, use it for the essentials. Your order can be as big or as small as you want.
6. This list of wine subscription companies.
Bacon and eggs. Peanut butter and jelly. Teachers and wine- it’s a combination as old as time. It’s no secret that many teachers like their wine, and these 19 subscription services make it easier than ever to get the good stuff delivered right to your door. Many of them include a free bottle in your first order, so check out the list.
If you become a regular, many of them start to learn your wine preferences and send you stuff they know you’ll like. What a world we live in, right?
7. Your schools’ substitute request system.
Seriously, go put in for a sick day. Right now. Pick a Friday or Monday in the next 8-10 weeks and give yourself an additional long weekend sometime between now and spring break. Use this article as your excuse to not feel guilty.
The psychological benefits of doing something for yourself will boost you, and you can begin to make plans for your 3-day weekend. One day is pretty harmless, especially if you manage to get a good sub.
8. Book a massage.
There are few things to look forward to more than a 60-minute massage. Trust me when I say that you’ll even be a little more lenient towards the regular culprits in period 8 when you’ve got an appointment booked right after school. The drawback of massages are that they can be expensive, but you can usually find deals on sites like Groupon. You can usually find a reputable masseuse for $60/hour, which isn’t bad if you go once a month. Another suggestion is to look into local massage schools in your area. They often book outside members for their students to practice on, and you usually only pay $25-30 for the whole hour. You can’t beat that deal.
Self-care is vital. Being more productive and effective will make your personal life better. You spend so much of your life giving to others, as a teacher. When you take a few moments to fill your own cup, you and the people in your life benefit, and that includes your students!