4 Apps to Help Teachers Manage Their Time and Stay Organized
Teachers have to be incredible multitaskers to juggle so many roles and get their to-do lists done. Learning how to master time management and stay organized can reduce stress and create more time to enjoy the rest of your life. These four apps can help you do just that.
What it is: Toodledo is an app for organizing tasks, setting goal deadlines, and tracking productivity.
How it can help: Toodledo can track everything you need to get done in one organized place. I used to be a big fan of sticky notes, but I quickly became the teacher known for her sticky note-covered desk. Now I have all of my to-do lists compiled, categorized by folder, listed by level of priority and organized by due date. Toodledo also lets you attach documents and include a note with each task. You can set alarms for time-sensitive tasks, search by word for listed or completed tasks, and even time tasks to see how long they take.
Downside: Though I’m not the biggest fan of the layout on the iPhone version versus the desktop version (a bit less functionality and WiFi required to update it), it’s still really easy to use.
Cost: There is a free version plus paid subscriptions that offer storage and extra features like assigning tasks to other paid users. This could be handy for collaborating on a project or event with another teacher or within your department to keep track of everything. Paid plans start at $19.99 per year, which is probably less than most teachers’ monthly coffee habit. Visit the Toodledo website.
2. Focus Keeper
What it is: This time-keeping app helps you work on tasks in 25-minute increments with five-minute breaks in between.
How it can help: Focus Keeper applies the Pomodoro Technique, which recommends dividing your work into manageable chunks of time to become more effective on the job and avoid burnout. This can be particularly helpful for teachers grading mountains of papers and projects. We often tell ourselves we’ll take breaks but then try to power through—eventually leading to exhaustion, bitterness, or a combination of the two. Apps like Focus Keeper can help us manage our time better to keep us going strong.
Downside: The free version of this app is pretty basic with few options to customize it.
Cost: The basic version is free; the paid version costs $1.99. If you “go pro” and pay, then you can set and reach daily goals, set timer lengths, change the ticking and alarm sounds, and create focus reminders. Visit the Focus Keeper website.
What it is: Slack is an app for collaborating on projects. You can send messages to other collaborators, upload documents and photos, share links, have video chats, and organize various materials all in one place.
How it can help: If you’re working with other teachers to design a cross-curricular project, planning a schoolwide event with a team or helping a group of student leaders plan a fundraiser, Slack can keep everyone organized and up to date. You won’t have to sort through emails, texts, and various documents and spreadsheets, taking notes on what still needs to be done. Instead, you can create a channel that serves as a category for a type of project like “Annual Read-a-thon” or “WWII English/History Project.” Then you can invite people to that channel and upload all files, tagging people and asking them questions, sending messages back and forth to collaborate, and starring messages to come back to them when you’re too busy to respond. When looking for something, you can search for a word or phrase and every message, document or uploaded photo title with that word or phrase will come up.
Downside: While there is a free plan, the paid plans have more options that make it much more useful—especially for large teams and long-term use.
Cost: The free plan gives basic user options and 5GB of storage per team member, while the standard plan for teams is $6.67 per user per month, with 10GB of storage per team member and more functionality. The plus plan is $12.50 per user monthly with 20GB per team member and a few more features than the standard plan. Visit the Slack website.
What it is: The Remind app helps you keep parents in the loop and stay in touch with students via text without revealing your personal contact info or theirs.
How it can help: If you run a club or feel like you spend too much time writing newsletters or bulletins on your class website that parents and students often miss, then Remind might be able to help. Remind can reduce the time you spend contacting a long list of people and it can help you keep track of what you said to whom and when. Since everyone signs up using a code you send them, it’s a secure way to communicate with staff members, students and parents. It can keep everyone up-to-date on project due dates, big events and more. You can also schedule reminders ahead of time, see who has read your sent messages and translate messages into 17 languages.
Downside: Some of your students and parents might not have cell phones or be able to get these types of texts. Using this app with students encourages them to be on their phones even more, which some might dislike.
Cost: There is a free plan, a school plan and a district plan. You can enter your school or district’s info to get a quote for a specialized paid plan. Visit the Remind website.
Regardless of whatever tool you decide to use, be sure you’re properly planning and organizing your time. Start with these time management tips for inspiration.
Kara Wyman has a BA in literature and an MEd from the University of California-Santa Barbara. She spent a decade working with adolescents as an English teacher, as the founder and director of a drama program, a curriculum designer, and a project manager for a teen-centered nonprofit organization.